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Daniel Ricciardo Returns to the Grid

By Jeff Stinger

Daniel Ricciardo makes his Formula 1 comeback at AlphaTauri. Formula One announced last week that the Aussie will replace Nyck de Vries in the constructors’ No. 1 car for this weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix and the remainder of the 2023 calendar. The move came after the announcement that the former McLaren driver would take part in a tire test for the team on Tuesday at Silverstone. Ricciardo served as Red Bull Racing’s reserve driver this season behind defending champion and -312 Hungarian GP favorite Max Verstappen and No. 2 driver Sergio Perez.

Both Red Bull Racing and AlphaTauri are owned by the same company, and Danny Ric now teams up with Yuki Tsunoda for the rest of the season. This will be an interesting pairing and one that could determine the Australian’s trajectory in the not-so-distant future.

Daniel Ricciardo Grid Comeback

Daniel Ricciardo made his Formula 1 debut in 2011 and built most of his success with Red Bull Racing between 2014-2018. During his five-year stint with the constructor, the Aussie recorded seven of his eight career wins and finished a career-best third in the standing in 2014 and 2016.

The Perth-born driver departed Red Bull and raced for two years for Renault. He spent another two years with McLaren, winning a race over those four seasons. He finished P8 in the 2021 Driver Standings and 11th last season, the latter of which was his worst career finish since coming in 14th with Toro Rosso in 2013.

However, Danny Ric made it clear that he isn’t just making a Formula 1 comeback at AlphaTauri just to race with the team. The 34-year-old has been adamant about his goal of winning more races. In an interview with the Aussie, he said:

“Honestly, the fairytale ending [would be] to finish my career [at Red Bull Racing] if I could have it all my own way,” he said before his move to AlphaTauri was confirmed. “I’ll probably have to work my way up a little bit, but it’s really nice to be back here.”

This move takes him back to his early days in the sport as a former Toro Rosso wheelman. It’s a similar route he took to gain traction in the sport in the first place, joining the junior team in 2021 after a half-season stint with the now-defunct HRT. The stars aligned for him then as Mark Webber retired 24 months later, at which time Ricciardo proved worthy of a promotion.

The devastating side of the story went Nyck de Vries’ way. He’s only in the midst of his first season as a full-time F1 driver since standing in for Alex Albon’s Williams last year. But, the Dutchman struggled to keep up with the rest of the pack with no result better than P12 over ten races. This is where Ricciardo steps in. The accomplished driver can inject some veteran presence into the team and gives Red Bull Racing a strong contingency plan should Sergio Perez fail to deliver positive results.

Checo’s contract with Milton Keynes-based team ends after the final 2024 season race, meaning Ricciardo is already one foot in the door and could possibly take his spot in 2025 if the Aussie races well for the rest of the season and in 2024. Ricciardo’s first chance to impress Helmut Marko and company will happen in the Hungarian Grand Prix at the Hungaroring track as a +10,000 winner.

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