Daniel Ricciardo ‘knew before’ Silverstone test that AlphaTauri seat was at stake

Michelle Foster
Daniel Ricciardo smiling. Silverstone, July 2023.

Daniel Ricciardo smiling. Silverstone, July 2023.

Daniel Ricciardo knew even before the first lap of his Red Bull test that if he performed he’d take Nyck de Vries’ AlphaTauri race seat, revealed Helmut Marko.

Signed by Marko at the beginning of the year to replace the Alpine-bound Pierre Gasly, 28-year-old De Vries, the antithesis of the AlphaTauri junior programme, was under pressure from his very first lap of the 2023 season.

It was pressure he wouldn’t be able to live up to, the driver axed after the British Grand Prix where he once again last of the classified runners.

Daniel Ricciardo came out on top in the ‘pressure situation’

In stepped Ricciardo, the Honey Badger handed an audition for De Vries’ seat when he took to the track in the RB19 on Tuesday morning for a Pirelli tyre test.

It was a pressure-test that Marko says he excelled at.

“Daniel will now also be the benchmark for our junior Yuki Tsunoda,” he told F1-Insider.

“And one more thing: Daniel knew before the tests at Silverstone that he would have the cockpit at AlphaTauri if he could perform.

“He more than survived the pressure situation.”

According to ESPN, while Red Bull weren’t entirely sold on Ricciardo’s pace in the simulator, within an hour of him hitting the track at Silverstone Christian Horner was on the phone to Marko to talk up the Honey Badger’s impressive lap times.

Shortly afterwards, Marko called Horner to tell him he’d just fired De Vries and that the AlphaTauri seat was Ricciardo’s.

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AlphaTauri team boss Franz Tost has welcomed Ricciardo’s return to the team for whom he raced for two seasons in 2012 and 2013, scoring 30 points.

“There’s no doubt about his driving skills,” said the out-going team boss. “He already knows many of us, so his integration will be easy and straightforward.

“The team will also profit a lot from his experience, as he is an eight-time Formula 1 Grand Prix winner.”

However, former F1 driver turned pundit Ralf Schumacher wonders what, if any, good Ricciardo can do given AlphaTauri’s troubles with their AT04.

“I think the little break did Daniel good and he can approach things in a relaxed manner,” he told Sky Deutschland. “However, the car is not particularly good. But who knows – maybe the vehicle concept suits him.”

Meanwhile Oscar Piastri, the man who replaced Ricciardo at McLaren, has welcomed his compatriot back onto the F1 grid.

“Amazing guy,” he told the Age. “Very happy for him to be back on the grid.”

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