Helmut Marko has hinted that a full season at AlphaTauri in 2024 may be on the cards for Daniel Ricciardo, if he performs in the second half of the season.
Ricciardo was drafted in to replace the struggling Nyck de Vries at Red Bull’s junior squad after the British Grand Prix, with the Australian having rejoined Red Bull as reserve driver prior to the 2023 season.
The eight-time race winner is back with the Faenza-based team for the first time since 2013 as he looks to re-establish himself on the Formula 1 grid, and Red Bull motorsport advisor Marko hinted that he may be there a little while longer.
Helmut Marko to assess if Daniel Ricciardo can give ‘full commitment’ to AlphaTauri in 2024
Ricciardo himself has made no secret of the fact he aims to put himself in the hunt to partner Max Verstappen at Red Bull in 2025, with next season being the final year of Sergio Perez’s contract with the team.
Marko acknowledged that he knows this is Ricciardo’s target, but hinted that he may well end up staying with the junior squad for a full season – with a rebrand from AlphaTauri set to be in the works and Marko looking to bring the team as closely aligned to Red Bull as the regulations allow.
The Red Bull motorsport advisor also pointed out that there will be competition for those seats next season, however.
“Of course, you have to know from Daniel Ricciardo what his… We know his goals, but how to achieve them, whether he is ready to do a full year at AlphaTauri next year with full commitment,” Marko told Motorsport-Magazin in Germany.
“Yuki Tsunoda has steadily improved in and of himself, has his emotions under control for the most part, is now also conditionally capable of driving through a GP.
“We have alternatives, for example [Liam] Lawson, who is second in Japan and is very successful there and has made a big leap forward in his whole development since he’s been driving in Japan.”
Ricciardo has been praised for how well he has performed since returning to the grid two races ago, being thrown in at the deep end by tackling one of the sport’s most physical races in Hungary without much notice.
Marko believes the popular Australian’s return has been good for the team, and thinks Ricciardo is already much closer to Tsunoda’s level than De Vries was performing.
“The change has had a very positive effect, in terms of mood and motivation in the AlphaTauri team,” he elaborated.
“While the gap of De Vries was on average three to five tenths, Ricciardo, if you adjust for all that, is significantly less, if not on par with Tsunoda.
“We have nine races left; in these nine races we will watch how it develops. Tsunoda had a very good race in Spa, maybe in the middle sector when it was raining a bit too much, maybe he could have had a better result. Daniel was not far away from points in the sprint. This direction fits.”