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Daniel Ricciardo

Will Ricciardo win in AlphaTauri gamble?

Ricciardo was initially reluctant to drop down the grid, but will his AlphaTauri return prove fruitful?

Daniel Ricciardo
Article
To news overview © Red Bull Content Pool

Daniel Ricciardo's F1 career looked over at the end of last season.

The Australian lacked his effervescent mojo during his time at McLaren and was forced to settle for a berth at Red Bull as third driver, left only to cling onto hope that a competitive team would take a punt on him for 2024 onwards.

So, having turned down back-of-the-grid outfits last year, the option to take over from the ousted Nyck de Vries is a curious move. Will it work out for Ricciardo?

			© Red Bull Content Pool
	© Red Bull Content Pool

The mission

Ricciardo's form had disappeared behind the wheel of the McLaren, despite having secured victory at the 2021 Italian Grand Prix.

But word from the Red Bull hierarchy indicates he has recovered what he had lost through his simulator work, and impressed on his return to the cockpit at the Pirelli tyre test before his spot at AlphaTauri was announced.

So what must he do to reassert his position on the F1 grid to secure a competitive drive from next year?

Simply put, Ricciardo has to beat Yuki Tsunoda.

The Japanese driver has been much improved this season after his first two years of experience in the sport, which were riddled with inconsistency and incidents.

Tsunoda's form this year led him to being named in the top three drivers of the year so far by his contemporaries despite scoring only two points in what has proved a difficult car to drive.

De Vries' inability to match Tsunoda ultimately cost him his F1 shot, so this is the main goal for Ricciardo. Of course, there will be a bedding-in period in the two races before the summer break, but after that he has to put himself ahead of his teammate.

The future

Should Ricciardo impress sufficiently at AlphaTauri, there is every chance he could end up at Red Bull next season.

Motorsport Advisor Helmut Marko has been as forthright as ever with his views on Red Bull's driver situation and the only distinguishing factor he could make between Sergio Perez's situation and de Vries' was that the Mexican was second in the Drivers' standings.

But should Perez continue to struggle and be usurped in the race for runner-up behind teammate Max Verstappen [he has secured one podium in five races], there is every chance the hammer could fall to enact change.

Whilst Red Bull could look elsewhere, with Lando Norris and Alex Albon likely candidates, consistently strong performances from Ricciardo would almost certainly catapult him to the front of the line to take over from Perez.

Any alternatives?

If Ricciardo does perform to a high standard, there is nothing to suggest another team couldn't come knocking at his door.

Ferrari is always at the forefront of F1's silly season rumour mill, despite both of their drivers being locked into contracts for at least another season.

That would be the most likely landing point for Ricciardo if he were to search for a competitive seat outside Red Bull, though that in itself remains an outside chance.

The right move?

The long game was always to wait and see what would turn up for 2024 in terms of an F1 seat.

That has been accelerated and Ricciardo now finds himself in what is a real-life evaluation of whether he is ready to compete at the top of the tree again.

Of course, the riskier side of the knife edge he finds himself on dictates that his F1 career will be over should he fail to at least match Tsunoda.

But on the brighter side of that edge lies a potential seat with all-dominant Red Bull alongside Verstappen and with race wins certainly back on the table.

It is definitely a risk worth taking for Ricciardo, even if he may have to settle for limited scoring opportunities in what is a lacklustre AT04.

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