Daniel Ricciardo made a swift and impactful impression in his Silverstone test, so much so that Red Bull have booted Nyck de Vries out of AlphaTauri and put Ricciardo in.
Red Bull had said that they wanted to see how Ricciardo’s performance level truly stacks up by putting him out on the Silverstone track in the RB19, having been confined to simulator work on the current package until now.
What followed was a chain of events which led to the first driver sacking of F1 2023 and, when looking at the other main headline, you can’t help but wonder if Red Bull are already starting to play the long game with their driver options.
Nyck de Vries out and Daniel Ricciardo in at AlphaTauri
How a simple Pirelli tyre test can change the landscape at Red Bull! Of course, this outing for Ricciardo was about much more than just lending Pirelli a helping hand, and it was clear he was pushing the limits from the spin that was captured on film during the day. Thankfully no damage done!
And with Ricciardo ensuring that his simulator performance carried over to an impressive display on the track, that spelt curtains for De Vries who loses his seat at Red Bull’s sister team AlphaTauri after only 10 races with no points scored.
Ricciardo’s first outing back with the Faenza squad will be the Hungarian Grand Prix on loan from Red Bull until the end of the season.
“It is great to see Daniel hasn’t lost any form while away from racing and that the strides he has been making in his sim sessions translate on track,” said Red Bull team principal Christian Horner.
“His times during the tyre test were extremely competitive. It was a very impressive drive and we are excited to see what the rest of the season brings for Daniel on loan at Scuderia AlphaTauri.”
Daniel Ricciardo dazzles with time worthy of British GP front row
Horner described Ricciardo’s times during the test as “extremely competitive”, and it is understandable why the boss was impressed since the eight-time racer winner apparently clocked a time that would have put him on the front row for the 2023 British GP.
That is the claim of Formula 1 reporter Lawrence Barretto, sources having tipped him off on that golden nugget of information.
Of course, this was not the British Grand Prix though, and so another key factor may well have been at play…
Lando Norris shares the Helmut Marko praise with Alex Albon
Could this Ricciardo-De Vries move be only the start of a wider Red Bull shake-up ahead? If you believe the rumours, the Ricciardo-shaped spectre is now looming large over Sergio Perez who is struggling in the RB19 as team-mate to Max Verstappen.
It would seem though that Ricciardo is not the only threat, as both Horner and Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko have interestingly been far from shy to heap praise on their former driver Alex Albon, and now Marko has brought McLaren star Lando Norris into the circle of praise.
Red Bull are known to have held an interest in signing Norris in the past.
“He has a contract with McLaren until 2025, but he is by far the strongest of the young drivers. His youthful nature would also suit him best to Red Bull,” Marko told Kleine Zeitung.
Martin Brundle warns not to count Lewis Hamilton out
Former racer turned Sky F1 pundit Martin Brundle believes British motorsport is in safe hands with George Russell and Lando Norris, a duo often spoken about as potential future World Champions in the right machinery.
But, Brundle was also keen to point out that there is another Brit with legendary F1 status who can still hang with them, that being Russell’s Mercedes team-mate, seven-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton.
Speaking to PlanetF1.com at a reunion of members of his former Tyrrell team, Brundle said: “We’ve got a lot of good circuits in the UK, a lot of racing and we’ve really got some good kids with Lando and George but Lewis is still right there with them.”