AlphaTauri and its parent team, Red Bull, made waves on Tuesday with a stunning announcement. The future of their current driver, Nyck De Vries, is hanging in the balance as third driver from Red Bull, Daniel Ricciardo, is set to replace him from the Hungarian Grand Prix next week. This implies Ricciardo‘s surprising comeback with his prior team during his rest period from Formula One.
Red Bull advisor Marko threw light on the decision to replace de Vries after his 10-race stint. According to him, the Dutch driver’s pace was not pacing up as compared to his team-mate Yuki Tsunoda, contrary to what the team and he had hoped.
Marko explained, “We contracted Nyck because he performed great at Monza last year. We expected him to be at least equal to his team-mate Tsunoda this year, but that was not the case. Actually, he was always three tenths slower than Yuki. We saw no improvement. Why wait, and what do two more races matter if you don’t see any improvement? Nyck is a very nice guy, but the speed just wasn’t there.”
Marko’s assessment also took into account de Vries’ experiences as a Formula 2 and Formula E champion, which put him under a different light compared to other drivers like Tsunoda. The latter had been given an extended tenure despite several hiccups in his 2021 rookie season.
Marko continued, “He is 28, has a lot of experience and has also been able to gain a lot of knowledge as a test driver in multiple Formula 1 cars. You can’t compare him to a young rookie in my opinion. At the end of April in Baku, he started the weekend well and I thought he would perform better, but then he crashed again. Unfortunately, he didn’t do one super lap that really amazed us.”
The decision to replace de Vries was cemented after Ricciardo‘s impressive performance during Tuesday’s Silverstone Pirelli test in Red Bull‘s current RB19. Prior to this, he underwent a rebuilding phase following his exit from McLaren. Marko believes Ricciardo‘s arrival would breathe fresh life into the Faenza squad, currently in tenth place of the constructors’ championship and bracing for an off-season overhaul.
Marko noted, “Ricciardo‘s lap times were competitive during the tyre test, on three different tyre sets. If Ricciardo hadn’t had the speed, we would have needed to consider something else. But AlphaTauri is not in a good position right now and is last in the constructors’ standings, so we had to do something to change that. That often happens after a driver change and Ricciardo brings new energy to the team.”