Written by Alejandra Guajardo Lozano, Edited by Meghana Sree
Daniel Ricciardo’s comeback to Formula One was announced earlier this week. He will be replacing the Dutch driver Nyck de Vries in AlphaTauri for the rest of the 2023 season due to de Vries’ “underperformance” after just ten races. This news stirred up the media chatter, and opened a discussion about Ricciardo’s future in the sport. Will he be able to make it back to the top?
Many spectators were shocked that Ricciardo came back to the sport with AlphaTauri, as last year when he was left without a seat, he had stated he didn’t want a back-of-the-grid drive. Instead, he wanted to prioritise finding a competitive seat. So why is he back with Alpha Tauri?
Alpha Tauri (formerly known as Toro Rosso) is Red Bull Racing’s junior team, where young drivers get the chance to develop their skills and prove they deserve a seat in the top team. This team is usually composed of rookies and has been a starting point for many great drivers like Sebastian Vettel, Max Verstappen, Carlos Sainz, Pierre Gasly, Alex Albon, and more. Ricciardo used to be a Toro Rosso driver back in 2012 and is now coming back 11 years later.
The only reasonable explanation there is for Ricciardo to be in a junior team is the hopes of proving himself and going back to his former team. Ricciardo proved back in the day that he’s capable of handling a Red Bull seat, giving the Austrian team seven wins before leaving in 2019.
With Verstappen’s contract not ending until 2028, Ricciardo has about a year to prove himself to Red Bull as Sergio Perez’s contract ends at the end of the 2024 season. For this situation there are two outcomes for the Australian driver: one good, and one not so good. Starting on the positive note, let’s assume Ricciardo does prove he still has what it takes to be in Red Bull and starts getting consistently good results with AlphaTauri. In this case, he could go back to Red Bull alongside former teammate, Verstappen, getting the chance to win races again and even aim for a Championship.
Now, if Ricciardo doesn’t show the expected results and the team notices, he will most likely be dropped immediately and replaced by a younger driver from Red Bull’s academy. This would be catastrophic for the Australian as most of the teams already have their drivers or potential drivers set, which means he’ll be out of F1 for good this time.
There’s no way of knowing what awaits Ricciardo in the future, after having two rough years with McLaren which ended up in him being dropped by the Woking based team. Now, he is back after just ten races of being Red Bull’s reserve driver and assures that he is as confident as ever, aiming to get a shot at a competitive team. Now, he gets the chance to show his impeccable racing skills for the first time this year at the 2023 Hungarian Grand Prix. What are your opinions on Ricciardo’s comeback? Make sure to leave your thoughts in the comments.