AlphaTauri boss Franz Tost has detailed how Daniel Ricciardo may get himself back into a Formula 1 seat.
The energetic Australian is spending a year on the sidelines in 2023 having been let go from his McLaren contract a year earlier than originally planned.
Facing a future completely out of the sport, he took up an offer to return to his former home at Red Bull but having sat out for the first eight races of the season, Ricciardo has suggested he is itching to come back.
A move anywhere during the 2023 season seems unlikely at this stage but if that option were to open up, it seems most likely to happen at Red Bull’s sister outfit AlphaTauri where rookie Nyck de Vries finds himself under pressure.
As seen with the likes of Yuki Tsunoda and Pierre Gasly, the primary function of the AlphaTauri team is to ready young drivers for a potential move up to Red Bull but Tost has admitted if their young drivers are not ready, they will not risk them.
F2 drivers Isack Hadjar and Ayumu Iwasa, both members of the Red Bull academy, have been linked with a move but Tost said it may be too early for some of them.
“The philosophy is quite clear, the performance decides,” the AlphaTauri boss said, as per the Race. “Of course, the team philosophy is to educate young drivers. But if young drivers are not currently there – they’re coming, some good young drivers, Iwasa is doing a good job, Hadjar is doing a good job, but it’s simply a little bit too early for them.
“I see them earlier or later in our team but if the time is too early, then maybe we have to find another solution. But this has not been discussed so far.”
Super Formula driver Liam Lawson looks to be the leading candidate of the young talent but Tost still said they must find out which driver has “matured enough.”
“Liam has done a good job when he was driving for us last year in Abu Dhabi and he is currently doing a good job in Japan because it’s quite a tough championship over there,” Tost said. “As I said before, it’s a performance question.
“We have to find out, we have to see which driver is first of all, available and matured enough and educated enough and ready to go for a Formula 1 car. This we will see. Currently, nothing has been decided.”
AlphaTauri’s Plan A remains to stick with De Vries but with every passing race, more pressure is added to the Dutchman’s shoulders. In the build-up to the Austrian Grand Prix, Red Bull senior advisor Helmut Marko let slip that Christian Horner was not keen on signing De Vries in the first place.
Tost though, who is set to retire at the end of this year, believes De Vries’ performance will improve when F1 goes to tracks he is familiar with.
“In Formula 1 every driver has pressure,” he said. “We will see how Nyck is doing here, how Nyck is doing in Silverstone because he knows these race tracks.
“We must not forget that the rookie drivers nowadays are really in a difficult situation. Why? If you look to the first part of the season most of the race tracks they don’t know. They haven’t raced in Melbourne before in Formula 2 or Formula 3, they haven’t raced in Saudi Arabia or Miami.
“Baku, maybe, but in Baku we had the sprint race like here: FP1, qualifying for the race and then the qualifying for the sprint race. That means the weekends are flying away. And for the rookie drivers this is really very, very difficult.
“Now at least they come to race tracks which they know. It’s Austria, it’s Silverstone, Spa, Budapest, Monza and I think this helps more. It helps them be more confident.”