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Daniel Ricciardo | Image: Red Bull

Is Daniel Ricciardo Set to Join AlphaTauri F1?

UPDATE: As of July 2023, Daniel Ricciardo has been confirmed as AlphaTauri’s new driver. The Australian takes over from Nyck de Vries, effective from 12 July.

The Honey Badger could be making his way back into the first driver’s seat. The internet is rife with speculation that Australian Formula 1 (F1) driver and Grand Prix winner Daniel Ricciardo is set to join AlphaTauri F1. The rumour mills started earlier this week after Ricciardo took a trip to the team’s factory in Italy for a seat fitting, with fans convinced the Aussie star will soon replace underperforming rookie Nyck de Vries. But is it all just smoke and mirrors or is Ricciardo heading back to the track?

RELATED: The New Daniel Ricciardo Has Arrived

Daniel Ricciardo | Image: Instagram
Daniel Ricciardo | Image: Instagram

Daniel Ricciardo AlphaTauri F1 Visit

It’s no secret that Ricciardo is looking to rejoin the ranks as a lead driver in the near future. His highly-publicised exit from McLaren last year saw the Australian star step back from the racing grid, taking on a role as a backup driver for reigning championship team Red Bull. At the time, Ricciardo was vocal in his support for incoming McLaren replacement Oscar Piastri while also noting that he was happy to take some off from the pressure of motorsport’s greatest spectacle.

“For me, the ability to contribute to and be surrounded by the best team in F1 is hugely appealing, whilst also giving me some time to recharge and refocus,” Ricciardo said upon his Red Bull appointment. “I can’t wait to be with the team and support them with simulator work, testing sessions and commercial activities. Let’s go!”

While Ricciardo is yet to get behind the wheel of a Red Bull car, fans are already speculating the Aussie star is looking to make a change. The 2021 Monza GP winner was recently spotted in Faenza at the AlphaTauri F1 factory for a seat fitting, sending the rumour mill into overdrive.

However, as Motorsport‘s Jonathan Noble rightly pointed out, Ricciardo’s visit to AlphaTauri wasn’t completely out of the ordinary. In addition to being a reserve driver for Red Bull, Ricciardo is also contracted as a backup for AlphaTauri.

That distinction is important, as it means his services will be utilised whenever either team is struggling to find a first-seat driver. As a result, it’s unlikely that Ricciardo is suiting up to take over from de Vries in the immediate future, but the underperforming rookie is certainly under the pump.

AlphaTauri driver Nyck de Vries | Image: Instagram
AlphaTauri driver Nyck de Vries | Image: Instagram

de Vries Rumours

In his first season with the AlphaTauri livery, de Vries has struggled to make an impact, with a career-best finish of 14th. By all reports, Red Bull senior advisor Helmut Marko is unhappy with his development, with Nine suggesting that the team has given De Vries “until the end of the upcoming triple-header at Imola, Monaco and Barcelona to improve”.

If true, the team’s dissatisfaction wouldn’t be unwarranted. In his first six starts as an F1 driver, de Vries has failed to reach the top 10, whilst also being the catalyst for a number of silly incidents. Just last week at the Miami Grand Prix, de Vries was involved in a crash with McLaren’s Lando Norris that sent both of them spinning out of control.

AlphaTauri driver Nyck de Vries | Image: Instagram
AlphaTauri driver Nyck de Vries | Image: Instagram

According to AlphaTauri team principal Franz Tost, however, the team is committed to staying with de Vries, confirming that mistakes are part and parcel of new driver development.

“As I always say, there is a learning process and a crash period because, if the drivers don’t crash, they don’t know the limit,” he said. “This is a credit you must give them, otherwise it doesn’t work. And there was no driver not crashing. I remember with Sebastian (Vettel) in the first races, he came back on the first lap most often without the front nose. That’s part of the game.”

Daniel Ricciardo | Image: Instagram
Daniel Ricciardo | Image: Instagram

Daniel Ricciardo’s Future

As for Ricciardo, the future looks undecided. The 33-year-old is currently contracted with Red Bull until the end of the 2023 season and hasn’t stepped foot inside an F1 vehicle on race day since last year. That being said, the Honey Badger is in good company.

Red Bull has previously claimed that Ricciardo has recaptured his best form in the simulator, making him an ideal candidate for any team looking for an established driver. Whether or not that is true will be revealed later this year, when Ricciardo officially hops into a Red Bull driver’s seat for a tyre test following the British Grand Prix at Silverstone.

At this stage, it does appear that Ricciardo will remain a backup and that de Vries will keep his seat at AlphaTauri, but it will be worth keeping an eye on seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton. The Mercedes star is expected to re-sign with the tea in the next few weeks, however, should he decide to retire, the door would be well and truly open for Ricciardo to make a triumphant return to the grid.

General FAQs

Is Daniel Ricciardo joining AlphaTauri?

No, Daniel Ricciardo is not joining AlphaTauri. The driver was recently spotted at the organisation's factory in Italy for a seat fitting, however, it was merely a contactual obligation. As a backup for Red Bull, Ricciardo also serves as a reserve driver for AlphaTauri.

How old is Daniel Ricciardo?

Australian Formula 1 star Daniel Ricciardo is 33 years old. He was born in Perth in 1989.