Daniel Ricciardo To AlphaTauri: What Does This Mean For Red Bull And Perez?

Ricciardo is back on the grid
11:00, 14 Jul 2023

Daniel Ricciardo’s return to AlphaTauri came as somewhat of a surprise this week. The popular 34-year-old has been waiting in the wings as part of the Red Bull team, but the hard-nosed decision to ditch Nyck De Vries after just 10 races was a shocking one from one of the most cut-throat teams in the sport. 

As Red Bull’s sister team, AlphaTauri are going to be used experimentally at times. Yuki Tsunoda is the perfect example of a young driver who has been able to cut his teeth in Formula One but, having failed to outperform his younger team-mate, former Formula E champion De Vries has been ditched less than halfway through the season.

He almost certainly would have been given more time if Ricciardo wasn’t available, but the Australian’s patience has paid off, and he’ll be back on the grid in Hungary. It marks a return to AlphaTauri for Ricciardo, who was with them in 2012 and 2013 when they were known as Toro Rosso. From that point, he was promoted to Red Bull where he finished third in the Drivers’ Championship twice. 


It completes a full circle for Ricciardo, who returns to Red Bull’s sister team a decade after departing. Franz Tost, team principal at AlphaTauri had warned De Vries that his performances had to improve a couple of weeks ago and, unfortunately, he couldn’t match the results Tsunoda has been getting. 

It was thought that Liam Lawson, a Red Bull junior, would be next on the list for Tost, but the prospect of Ricciardo back on the grid has proved too difficult to resist. A key pulling point is likely to have been the times that the Aussie posted during tyre practice for the British Grand Prix. Although the track was in better condition than it was at the weekend, Ricciardo posted a time that would have seen him qualify in second place, behind only Max Verstappen.

That sort of pace simply cannot be ignored, and this move clearly provides Ricciardo with the chance to make a case for his Red Bull return. That becomes increasingly likely when you consider Sergio Perez’s current form and the fact the Mexican's current contract expires at the end of the year.


Perez has failed to make Q3 for the past five races and finished way off his team-mate every weekend. He’s now 99 points behind Verstappen and only 19 ahead of Fernando Alonso, despite racing in one of the best cars the sport has ever seen. Red Bull should be hoovering up one-twos every time they take to the track, but instead they are relying on the magnificent Verstappen to secure them both world titles. 

There’s also the inescapable feeling that the public support Christian Horner has given Perez feels somewhat hollow. “He’s the type of guy that just needs an arm around his shoulder and you work with him,” the team boss said recently, which is equally as familiar as the spiel he gave about Alex Albon before he ditched him in 2020.

“We need to be patient with him and we’ll put an arm around his shoulder and make sure he feels he’s got the support,” he said three years ago before replacing Albon with Perez. Now it looks like the Mexican could be given the same treatment at the conclusion of this season.

It feels as though Ricciardo is being lined up for a title tussle with Verstappen next season, especially given the added praise Horner gave him. 

“It is great to see Daniel hasn’t lost any form while away from racing and that the strides he has been making in his sim sessions translate on track,” Horner said. “His times during the tyre test were extremely competitive. It was a very impressive drive and we are excited to see what the rest of the season brings for Daniel on loan at Scuderia AlphaTauri.”

For Perez, the writing looks like it is on the wall. Ricciardo is coming for his seat, and Horner already knows how this is going to pan out. 

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