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Riccardo in Alpha Tauri is a bad idea. What’s wrong with Dan’s possible return?

Date: June 18, 2024 Time: 11:56:28

Rally rookie Nyck de Vries has so disappointed Red Bull management that Helmut Marko is publicly speculating about a possible sacking of the Dutch driver later this season. According to insiders, the leading candidate for the vacant spot at Alpha Tauri is Red Bull reserve driver Daniel Ricciardo. It would seem that an experienced Australian is a great option for the junior bull team, but this is only at first glance.

A year ago, Riccardo showed terrible results

In the second half of the 2010s, Daniel Ricciardo was considered one of the most capable Formula One drivers. The Aussie won regularly for Red Bull, also fittingly taking on young genius Max Verstappen in a team duel. Riccardo’s break with Red Bull at the end of 2018 was largely connected with the person of the Dutchman: the “bulls” frankly trusted Max, which did not suit Dan.

Ricciardo will spend the next two seasons at Renault, but this cooperation will not bring much joy to the Australian: without expecting rapid progress from the team, Daniel will leave the Frenchman for McLaren. Who would have thought that this transition would ruin Dan’s racing career in so many ways?

It turns out that Riccardo had it all at Renault

Photo: Mark Thompson/Getty Images

In the field of “orange” Riccardo appeared in the worst version of himself. Despite the victory at Monza, Dan did not spend his debut season at McLaren in the best possible way, losing on all fronts to his teammate Lando Norris. Also, worse. The following season, Ricciardo became one of the worst riders in the peloton. The Australian was defeated by Norris himself in the intra-team battle (20-2 in the tie and 122-37 in points).

Daniel was so disappointed with the Orange management that they paid him a lot of money and preferred yesterday’s junior with zero F-1 experience Oscar Piastri. After the failure at McLaren, Ricciardo didn’t have many career options, so he readily agreed to become a reserve driver for his ‘native’ Red Bull team.

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There are two arguments against Riccardo.

Once on the Red Bull bench, Ricciardo did, in fact, put his formula career on indefinite hiatus. He can take the place of a fighter pilot in one of the two bull teams only in an emergency. And, apparently, this case just arrived.

Alfa Tauri’s rookie, Nick de Vries, totally disappointed the bullfighting bosses, so it is likely that the Dutchman’s dismissal is a matter of time. The Formula E champion is supposed to leave the junior bull team after the summer break in the championship. Today, Riccardo appears to be the most likely candidate to replace the failed rookie.

In favor of the Australian, his impressive experience (12 seasons in F-1), a brilliant segment at Red Bull, as well as accessibility speak in his favor, even right now you can put him in the cockpit of Alpha Tauri. However, despite Riccardo’s obvious advantages, his likely return is a rather dubious move on the part of the bulls’ leadership.

Nick de Vries has yet to make his own in Formula 1

Photo: Peter Fox/Getty Images

The first thing that is alarming in this whole story is the actual form of the Australian pilot. The arrival of such an experienced rider in the “youth” team of “bulls” can be carried out with only one goal – to improve the results here and now. At the moment, Alpha Tauri sits a humiliating last place in the Constructors’ Championship, with just two points to their credit. Such a depressing situation was the result, among other things, of the terrible performances of Nick de Vries – in the team rating, Alpha Tauri fights exclusively with the forces of Yuki Tsunoda.

But Riccardo will be able to perform much better than De Vries, the big question is. Last year, the Australian had the worst season of his career, the last time he consistently showed decent results three years ago. Also, do not forget that Riccardo did not drive the current Alpha Tauri car tritely, and it is not known how long it will take him to adapt to an unknown car.

Can Ricciardo quickly adapt to the weak Alpha Tauri?

Photo: Mark Thompson/Getty Images

The second factor that works against Dan’s return is status. Yes, Ricciardo is an eminent racer and an eight-time Formula 1 Grand Prix winner, but let’s not forget which team Daniel is preparing to join. Still, Alfa Tauri (formerly Toro Rosso) was originally conceived precisely as a place to test potential Red Bull drivers. In other words, one of the main tasks of the junior bull team is to prepare the riders for the “older brother”. Does Ricciardo, 34, fit into the Alpha Tauri concept? Clearly not. Still, the bull team is destined for the future, not former Red Bull drivers.

Of course, it can be assumed that the bullfighting bosses are considering Ricciardo as a possible replacement for Sergio Pérez (the contract with Red Bull expires at the end of 2024), and the transition to Alfa Tauri is a kind of aptitude test. But even if Perez does not renew his contract with Red Bull, the Austrians will surely have much more attractive options than the 35-year-old veteran, who recently lost his place in the F-1 field. Therefore, with him in Alpha Tauri, Daniel will simply take a place away from one of Red Bull’s young talents.

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Who else can replace de Vries?

Besides Riccardo, at least three drivers are claiming de Vries’ place: Liam Lawson, Alex Palou, Ayumu Iwasa. Each of them seems to be quite a promising option for the Red Bull system.

Lawson, for example, got off to an incredible start in Super Formula this year, becoming the first driver to win his debut race in the Japanese championship. After five stages, Liam sits second in the individual standings, with two wins to his credit. Success in Japan is especially valuable because of all the racing series, it is Super Formula that has the closest technology to F-1 in terms of speed.

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Besides Lawson, the other candidate for promotion is fellow Red Bull academy student Ayumu Iwasa. Last year, the Japanese became perhaps the best newcomer to Formula 2, showing impressive progress during the championship. This year, Iwasa looks even more confident: according to the results of the first half of the season, Ayumu is in the third line of the personal ranking, although he still has good chances for the champion title.

Another contender for a place in Alpha Tauri, unexpected for many, was Alex Palou, who shines in IndyCar. The Spaniard already has a title abroad, with a high degree of probability that he will repeat his success this year. Driver Chip Ganassi has been in fantastic form with four wins in his last five races. Only bad luck can prevent the Spaniard from getting the second title.

Palow’s undeniable advantage is its ability to adapt to new conditions. Alex immediately gave decent results in Japanese Super Formula and IndyCar, championships that are completely different in detail. It is likely that the Spaniard will not have much difficulty adapting to Formula 1.


As we can see, Red Bull has much more interesting and promising options than Riccardo. However, Nick de Vries should not be ruled out either. Who knows, maybe the Dutch rider will undergo a miraculous transformation and convince the bulls to give him another chance. To remedy the situation, de Vries has at least a few races. These will be the most important races in the Dutchman’s career.

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Puck Henry
Puck Henry
Puck Henry is an editor for ePrimefeed covering all types of news.

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