Daniel Ricciardo could return to the F1 grid very soon after the struggling Nyck de Vries was given a three-race ultimatum to save his career.
Ricciardo was left without a driver for 2023 after McLaren cut ties with the popular Aussie following two mostly underwhelming years with the team.
The 33-year-old had a number of options for this season, including Haas, but ended up rejoining Red Bull as their test and reserve driver, and remains incredibly determined to get back on the grid for 2024.
But according to recent reports, he could be back racing in just a few weeks with De Vries’ seat at AlphaTauri under threat.
The Dutchman has endured a torrid start to his first full season of F1, having made several notable and avoidable crashes, and alongside Williams’ Logan Sargeant he is the only driver yet to score a point this year.
AlphaTauri, Red Bull’s sister-team, signed the former Formula 2 and Formula E champion after his highly impressive debut at the Italian Grand Prix last year, which followed years of waiting on the sidelines with Mercedes for an F1 drive.
But the 28-year-old has shown none of that talent so far in 2023 and Motorsport.com claim that Red Bull chief Helmut Marko has told De Vries that if he does not up his game at the next three races – Imola, Monaco and Spain – he will be replaced.
Adding fuel to this rumour are the reports that Ricciardo recently visited the AlphaTauri factory to have a seat fitting, though this could just be a precaution with the eight-time race winner also unofficially listed as a reserve driver for the team.
It may seem harsh to sack a driver after such a short time but the Red Bull programme are notoriously cut-throat, harshly demoting the likes of Daniil Kvyat, Pierre Gasly and Alex Albon over the years.
Ricciardo previously drove for AlphaTauri from 2012 to 2013, when they were known as Toro Rosso, before being promoted to Red Bull where he would remain for five years before switching to Renault and then McLaren.
On Wednesday, it was announced the he would be driving the Red Bull RB19 at Silverstone following July’s British Grand Prix at a Pirelli tyre test.
He told ESPN: ‘I’m certainly excited to drive a fast car, but also a car that maybe still feels familiar for me – it does a little bit in the sim. But I’m just excited to drive again and to just try to remind a team obviously I once had a lot of success with that I can still turn a fast lap.
‘I’m definitely still in like a really good place – I’m very happy with this [being a reserve driver]. Does it mean that I’m happy doing this for the next two or three years? Probably not. But I think for this year it’s certainly a good thing for me.
‘Right now, I do want to get back on the grid next year. I do feel like there’s certainly some unfinished business. I’m staying like in the loop and staying prepared and whatever.’
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