Sky F1 pit-lane reporter Ted Kravitz has his concerns over Daniel Ricciardo joining AlphaTauri, namely over the quality of their challenger and a lack of acknowledgment for the team from their new driver.
We are only 10 races deep into the new F1 2023 campaign and already we have our first driver casualty, Red Bull deciding to sever ties with Nyck de Vries after an underwhelming start to his rookie season.
Taking his place as of the Hungarian Grand Prix will be Ricciardo, on loan from Red Bull for the remainder of the season, having impressed in his Silverstone tyre test following the British Grand Prix.
Ted Kravitz holds multiple Daniel Ricciardo concerns
Having been at the wheel of the dominant Red Bull RB19 for that Silverstone test, the challenger which has claimed 10 wins from 10 to start F1 2023, Ricciardo will now be parachuted into arguably the slowest on the grid in the form of the AlphaTauri AT04.
And considering Ricciardo was informed of his impending McLaren dismissal only midway through last season after after a nightmare spell, that MCL36 a stronger challenger in its year compared to the AT04, Kravitz has his concerns over this Ricciardo return.
“It’s all well and good basing it on the Red Bull RB19, which is the class of the field, but he’s not driving that car,” Kravitz noted on the Sky Sports F1 podcast.
“He’s driving probably one of the slowest cars on the grid, if not the slowest, which is the AlphaTauri.
“The AlphaTauri had some upgrades at Silverstone and they finished further down than they normally do with a non-upgraded car. This is not a great AlphaTauri, it’s fair to say.
“Not to say that they shouldn’t have replaced Nyck de Vries – clearly it wasn’t working – but the surprise is why Daniel Ricciardo would want to go in to that car that is worse than the McLaren he left last year, probably.
“That quote from Ricciardo I thought was odd. He said ‘I’m stoked to be back on track with the Red Bull family’. He can’t even bring himself to say AlphaTauri! He doesn’t want to say I’m delighted to drive the AlphaTauri because it’s not a quick car.
“Maybe there’s some longer-term gain in it for Ricciardo, because there might well be some short-term pain if he can’t do any better than De Vries.”
AlphaTauri the stepping stone to desired Daniel Ricciardo destination
To Kravitz’s point, Ricciardo likely is not in any way delighted to be jumping in the cockpit of potentially F1 2023’s slowest car, but he will be thrilled to have an opportunity to unlock a pivotal door within the Red Bull Racing family.
The Aussie has said that returning to Red Bull would be the “fairytale” way to close out his Formula 1 career, his immediate comments after securing this AlphaTauri seat very much adding credit to that, but now the pressure is very much on to make that dream a reality.
Ricciardo seemingly is now in with a very good chance of replacing Sergio Perez at Red Bull from 2024, the Mexican racer struggling for form with many believing this Ricciardo move has been made by Red Bull to test out his performance and add that extra layer of pressure for Perez to up his game.
Of course though, this relies on Ricciardo proving that his McLaren woes were not a sign of his ability being on the decline, but instead an extreme example of team and driver not gelling.
He also goes up against a team-mate in Yuki Tsunoda, who while has impressed this season, is rarely spoken about as highly as Ricciardo’s former team-mate at McLaren Lando Norris. Ricciardo is under even greater pressure then to put Tsunoda in his back pocket through the remainder of the campaign.
This is a risk for Ricciardo no doubt, if he bombs, his F1 career is likely done, if he thrives, he could be a Red Bull driver again next year. Watch this space!