Daniel Ricciardo returns to F1 grid as Australian driver replaces Nyck de Vries at AlphaTauri

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Daniel Ricciardo is making a surprising mid-season return to the Formula One grid, with the Australian driver replacing the struggling Nyck de Vries at AlphaTauri.

Ricciardo, currently a Red Bull reserve driver, is being sent “on loan” to Red Bull’s feeder team for the remainder of the 2023 season, the team announced Tuesday.

The 34-year-old, who will race for AlphaTauri in the next grand prix in Hungary on July 23, said he was “stoked to be back on track with the Red Bull family,” according to the F1 website.

According to F1 correspondent Lawrence Barretto, Ricciardo’s best lap in Tuesday’s tyre test, his first time driving in Red Bull’s 2023 car, would have been fast enough to make the front row of the grid for Sunday’s British Grand Prix.

“It was 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,” Red Bull team principle Christian Horner said.

“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.”

Ricciardo previously raced for AlphaTauri – then named Toro Rosso – in 2012 and 2013 before being promoted to a Red Bull seat in 2014, going on to win seven grands prix in five seasons with the team, including top spot on the podium at the 2018 Monaco GP.

Ricciardo opted to join Renault in 2019 – a decision that was played out in the hit Netflix series ‘Drive to Survive – and then McLaren two years later, but was dropped by the team at the end of his second season, a year before his contract was due to expire, after several disappointing performances.

He rejoined Red Bull as the team’s third driver for the 2023 season, and now the door has opened for a return to the grid after Dutch driver De Vries, a Formula E world champion, failed to perform in his first season in F1.

De Vries sits bottom of the driver standings as one of only two drivers not to score a single point this season and has managed a best finish of 12th place at the Monaco GP.

Red Bull is notoriously brutal with its driver selection, dropping Pierre Gasly to Toro Rosso midseason in 2019 and replacing him with Alex Albon, before axing the British driver at the end of the following season, with the pressure facing Red Bull drivers becoming a key theme in ‘Drive to Survive.’

Sergio Perez is now feeling that same pressure after a string of poor performances. The Mexican driver has failed to make the third round of qualifying for five straight races and has fallen 99 points behind Max Verstappen at the top of the driver standings while racing in the same car.

After a fast start to the season, Perez has made the podium just once in the last five races.

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