Daniel Ricciardo is not being lined up to replace underperforming Nyck de Vries at AlphaTauri at present, sources have told ESPN, despite reports linking him to a move.
Multiple reports said on Thursday that Ricciardo visited AlphaTauri’s headquarters in Faenza, Italy this week for a seat fitting, adding that Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko has given De Vries until the Spanish Grand Prix to improve his performances.
While it is understood Red Bull’s senior figures have been frustrated and underwhelmed with the Dutchman’s recent form, sources have told ESPN that Ricciardo is not in the frame to replace him. In that scenario, Red Bull junior Liam Lawson, who is racing in Formula 2, would be the primary candidate.
Ricciardo, who is Red Bull’s third driver this year, has indicated a desire to return to racing in 2024, but he wants to do so with a front-running team. Sources told ESPN that Ricciardo did have a seat fitting for AlphaTauri ahead of the Miami Grand Prix — behind closed doors, to avoid rumours spreading of him racing for the team — as Lawson did not attend the race.
Ricciardo’s contract with Red Bull is solely in a reserve capacity, with additional marketing obligations. He is set to conduct an on-track test for Red Bull later this year. While Red Bull’s drivers traditionally have contracts that allow them to be moved between the company’s two teams, the Australian does not have anything similar when it comes to a full-time race role.
Sources close to Ricciardo told ESPN he did not visit Faenza at any point this week.
Ricciardo travelled straight to Europe after the Miami Grand Prix, but he did so to attend the wedding of two friends, Australian Olympic snowboarder Scotty James and Chloe Stroll, daughter of Aston Martin owner Lawrence and sister of driver Lance. Ironically, Ricciardo was at James and Stroll’s engagement party last year when he first saw reports suggesting he was due to be released from his McLaren deal one year early, which was confirmed during the August summer break.
Red Bull and AlphaTauri did not respond to ESPN regarding the Ricciardo link when asked for official comment.
It remains to be seen what role Ricciardo plays in the 2024 driver market. While some have speculated he could be a replacement for Sergio Perez at the senior team, Red Bull is understood to be delighted with the Mexican driver’s role at the team and his recent performances. He has a contract until the end of 2024.
Lewis Hamilton is yet to sign a contract extension with Mercedes but is widely expected to do so in the coming months. Were Hamilton not to sign, Ricciardo would likely be a lead contender either for that seat, or to fill any gaps created by the seven-time world champion’s departure.
Ricciardo not in line to replace De Vries at AlphaTauri – sources