Formula One

Daniel Ricciardo to replace Nyck de Vries at Alpha Tauri

Daniel Ricciardo in the Red Bull garage earlier in 2023.
Photo by XPB / Icon Sport

Nyck de Vries has lost his Alpha Tauri seat with immediate effect after just ten races at the team. More significantly, the seat will be taken over by Daniel Ricciardo, as the eight-time Grand Prix winner looks set to return to Formula 1.

De Vries, who is the 2019 Formula 2 champion and the 2020-21 Formula E champion, earned his seat at the Italian team after an impressive performance last year at Monza. The 28-year old stood in for Alex Albon in the Italian Grand Prix and finished ninth for Williams.

His season has not panned out well at all, as he has been outclassed by Yuki Tsunoda all season long. He has beaten the Japanese driver on just two races so far; at Monaco (as Tsunoda battled brake problems) and at Austria, two races ago.

His seat will be taken over by Daniel Ricciardo, as confirmed by the team. The 34-year-old returns to Formula 1, having lost his seat at McLaren at the end of last season. He has since signed a contract with Red Bull to become its test and reserve driver, returning to the squad after 2018. He has tested for the team in the simulator and today he returns to the track, as he tests the Red Bull RB19 as part of a Pirelli test at Silverstone.

Who is Daniel Ricciardo?

Born in 1989, Daniel Ricciardo started his racing career in his native Australia, beginning karting when he was nine years old. At the age of 18, the Aussie chased his dream to reach Formula 1 as he moved to Europe. He made a significant step towards that dream when he joined the Red Bull Junior Team at the end of 2007.

Then next two years were brilliant for Ricciardo, who won the Formula Renault 2.0 WEC in the first season and the British Formula 3 championship in the following one. That set him up for a seat at the Formula Renault 3.5 Series, which at the time was one of the most important stepping stones to Formula 1, on level with GP2 (which is now known as Formula 2). With a runner-up finish in 2010, he became the test and reserve driver for Toro Rosso ahead of 2011.

Halfway through the season though, a new opportunity presented itself. The 22-year-old earned a Formula 1 seat, albeit at a struggling team, HRT. His good performances confirmed what Red Bull already knew, and he was placed at Toro Rosso for 2012. With a much better car, the Australian was able to score points in both seasons. His close battles against teammate Jean-Eric Vergne were close and drew even more attention when Mark Webber, who was driving for Red Bull, announced he would leave Formula 1 and his seat became open.

It was Ricciardo that would replace his countryman and become the teammate of Sebastian Vettel, who was coming off the back of four consecutive World Championships. Unexpectedly, Ricciardo outperformed the German and impressed throughout the season. He earned his maiden win at Canada, after taking the lead in the closing stages and he repeated the feat in Hungary, before adding a third win in Belgium. He would end the season third in points and as the only driver to win except the dominant Mercedes.

Daniel Ricciardo performing his trademark celebration, the shoey.
Photo by XPB / Icon Sport

The 2015 season was not as competitive for Red Bull in general, but 2016 for sure was. Ricciardo would also have a new teammate three races into the season, as Max Verstappen joined the team. Despite cruelly losing a victory at Monaco, he rebounded to claim his fourth victory in Malaysia, along with seven other podiums and third in the standings. 2017 provided another win and eight more podiums, in another season he was able to beat the young Dutchman.

In 2018, a lot changed though. Verstappen took a leap and Ricciardo was outscored, despite a couple of wins early in the season. The pair also had a few clashes, most famously a collision that took them both out of the race in Baku. With his contract expiring, Ricciardo took the decision to leave the team and join Renault, taking a big risk.

It did not pay off. Ricciardo had a quiet season in 2019 and returned to the podium on two occasions in 2020, in an impressive season that saw him finish fifth in the standings. Then came a move at McLaren. His first season was okay and even saw him win a race, as he shocked everyone at Monza when he led a McLaren 1-2. Last season was a disaster though and his performances saw him lose his seat to Oscar Piastri, as he completed the season with 37 points, while his teammate -Lando Norris- was on 122.

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