In a surprising turn of events, Daniel Ricciardo, the Australian racing driver, has announced his return to Formula One. After taking a hiatus from racing this year as Red Bull’s third driver, Ricciardo is set to make a comeback with Red Bull’s second team, AlphaTauri, for the remainder of the season. His return to the grid will take place at the Hungarian Grand Prix on July 23, reigniting his aspirations to eventually rejoin the Red Bull team he parted ways with at the end of 2018.
Ricciardo’s decision to join the secondary outfit not only presents him with an opportunity to prove himself but also adds pressure on Sergio Perez, who has been struggling to find his form at Red Bull. Many have speculated over the past days of a return with insiders claiming that Ricciardo is prepared to drive for AlphaTauri for as long as necessary to demonstrate that he has overcome the challenges he faced during his time with McLaren in 2021 and 2022.
The confirmation of this news came on Tuesday, coinciding with Ricciardo’s participation in a tyre test for Red Bull at Silverstone. The team highlighted that his exceptional performance during the test was a significant factor in making this move. Christian Horner, the team principal of Red Bull, expressed his excitement about Ricciardo’s return, emphasizing that the Australian driver had not lost his touch during his time away from racing. Horner praised Ricciardo’s impressive times during the tyre test and conveyed his anticipation for the rest of the season, during which Ricciardo will be on loan at Scuderia AlphaTauri.
The departure of Nyck de Vries from AlphaTauri seemed inevitable for some time, given his ongoing struggles and the public criticisms voiced by Helmut Marko, the motorsport advisor of Red Bull. Marko previously admitted that Horner’s doubts about De Vries’ suitability for Red Bull’s F1 program were justified in hindsight. De Vries, a former champion in Formula 2 and Formula E, secured a contract for this season following his exceptional Formula One debut with Williams at the Italian Grand Prix last year, where he replaced the unwell Alex Albon and scored valuable points. However, De Vries has been unable to replicate that level of performance in 2023, leading to his departure from AlphaTauri.
Ricciardo’s return to AlphaTauri marks a homecoming for the Australian driver, as he previously raced for the team in 2012 and 2013 when it was known as Toro Rosso. His impressive performances during that period earned him a promotion to Red Bull for the 2014 season, during which he experienced a breakout year, clinching three Formula One victories.
With this unexpected turn of events, the Formula One community eagerly awaits Ricciardo’s return to the track. His experience, skill, and determination will undoubtedly make him a formidable contender as he strives to prove himself once again. As the season progresses, all eyes will be on Ricciardo and his performance at AlphaTauri, wondering whether this is the stepping stone he needs to make his long-awaited return to the Red Bull team, where he aims to compete at the highest level and challenge for race wins and championships.