AlphaTauri is serving a different purpose by fielding Daniel Ricciardo amid doubts over Sergio Perez’s future at Red Bull, believes ex-Formula 1 driver Pedro de la Rosa.
Perez has endured a difficult season alongside Max Verstappen this year, despite winning two of the opening four Grands Prix.
After his strong start, Perez endured a difficult run of form which allowed his team-mate to streak away in the Drivers’ Championship.
Midway through the campaign, AlphaTauri parted ways with Nyck de Vries and signed Daniel Ricciardo, who has also been retained for next season.
At 34 years of age, Ricciardo is well beyond the average age for a driver who is usually placed in Red Bull’s sister team, which has traditionally nurtured young F1 talent.
Ricciardo offering 'cover' for Red Bull
However, Perez’s contract at Red Bull expires at the end of next year, with some speculating that he could be ousted from the team for Ricciardo.
De la Rosa shares that view, suggesting that Ricciardo has a spot at AlphaTauri to keep him fresh in the scenario that he is brought back to Red Bull.
“What [Christian Horner, Red Bull Team Principal] said was very interesting,” de la Rosa told the F1 Nation podcast.
“He said that after the Silverstone Grand Prix there was a test. And Daniel, I think he said 11 laps, he did times capable of being in the top five on the grid for the British Grand Prix.
“That gave Daniel a chance in AlphaTauri given the fact that they want to be covered, just in case whatever happened with Checo.
“If they had no doubts that Checo would be close to Max, then they wouldn't have taken Daniel.
“But the fact that they are not sure what can happen in the future, that’s that's a bit what Christian told us.
“So all in all, what I'm saying is the AlphaTauri team is meant to give young drivers opportunities, yes, but I think that they are using it for a different purpose at this moment in time.”