Despite the question marks over his performance level, as well as his age, Daniel Ricciardo remains a top prospect for a full-time seat with AlphaTauri in 2024.
AlphaTauri’s remit may be developing young drivers into refined versions of themselves in order to put themselves in the shop window for a seat with Red Bull Racing, but the veteran Daniel Ricciardo remains a leading prospect for a seat with the Italian team in 2024.
That’s despite his, for an F1 driver, advanced years at 34 years old, while also being a question mark in terms of his performance level having only done two races with AlphaTauri after his promotion to a race seat in place of the struggling Nyck de Vries.
Peter Bayer explains why Daniel Ricciardo remains a priority
Speaking in an exclusive interview with PlanetF1.com over the Italian Grand Prix weekend, new AlphaTauri CEO Peter Bayer spoke at length about various topics – not least of which was the drivers that may be on board next season.
With the Austrian explaining the team’s responsibility to help Red Bull cultivate and develop junior talent, it was put to him that Ricciardo, given his age and experience, is at odds with that purpose.
“My belief is that… obviously, we cannot only develop young drivers – we also have to be competitive,” he told PlanetF1.com.
“I think, to be competitive nowadays, you need… in order to fulfil both cars, you need to have one experienced driver and one young one. That’s really what I’m trying to achieve, you know, to have an experienced one and a young one.
“Because then the young one will learn more from the experienced one, the experienced one will help us and, for example, Daniel helped us tremendously on setting up the car.
“So whilst we give feedback to a young driver, the experienced one gives us feedback, and I’m convinced you need to have those two.”
Peter Bayer: Liam Lawson has been amazing
Given the apparent vote of confidence in Ricciardo’s abilities and likelihood of being retained for next season, the big question mark is who might be in the other seat.
Yuki Tsunoda has been with AlphaTauri for three years and has fared well throughout the season, but is it enough to remain in the seat for next year? The Japanese driver’s performances were set to come under scrutiny alongside Ricciardo until that plan was scuppered at Zandvoort, while Tsunoda now has to contend with the impressive form of rookie teammate Liam Lawson.
With the Kiwi earning praise from Helmut Marko after racing to 11th at Monza, Bayer also admitted his admiration for what Lawson has managed to achieve having been dropped into the AT04 at such short notice.
“Liam has been amazing, honestly,” he said.
“What he did is, I think… I have a huge amount of respect for him and his achievements here in the paddock. Zandoort was probably the worst possible baptism that you can possibly have, you know?
“I mean, raining, the track in Zandvoort was wet then dry, right? It was everything that you possibly would not wish for. Still, he did a very good job.
“Honestly, what I really like about Liam is how professionally he’s approaching the task and he’s very calm in the car. He will get feedback from the engineers and, lap after lap, he will improve. It’s very impressive, really.”