Nyck de Vries has been dropped from the AlphaTauri Formula 1 team’s line-up and will be replaced at the second Red Bull outfit by eight-time grand prix winner Daniel Ricciardo.
Red Bull has described the move as Ricciardo – its third driver this season – going “on loan” to AlphaTauri for the remainder of 2023.
Neither Red Bull’s nor AlphaTauri’s press releases made mention of De Vries, save for AlphaTauri team principal Franz Tost acknowledging his “valuable contribution”.
“I’m very pleased to welcome Daniel back into the team,” said Tost.
“There’s no doubt about his driving skill, and he already knows many of us, so his integration will be easy and straightforward. The team will also profit a lot from his experience, as he is an eight-time Formula 1 grand prix winner.
I would like to thank Nyck for his valuable contribution during his time with Scuderia AlphaTauri, and I wish him all the best for the future.”
De Vries’ axing comes just 10 grands prix into the season.
The 28-year-old was hired by Red Bull for the 2023 season following an impressive last-minute stand-in drive in place of Alex Albon at Monza in 2022, when De Vries finished ninth.
But the Formula E and Formula 2 champion has struggled to make an impression in his first full season in F1. He is one of only two drivers yet to have scored a point, with a best finish of 12th in the Monaco GP, and has been outqualified 7-2 by team-mate Yuki Tsunoda.
The security of his seat has been the subject of speculation for some time, and when a fortnight ago Tost said De Vries “decides” his fate with his performances in the troublesome AT04 Red Bull junior Liam Lawson was thought to be first in line to replace him.
Lawson is racing in the Japanese Super Formula series this year and is in title contention, having won races in F2 last season as well.
Red Bull said in announcing Ricciardo’s on-loan move to AlphaTauri that it followed a “strong performance in Wednesday’s tyre test at Silverstone”, which marks his first appearance in its RB19.
“It is 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,” said Red Bull team principal Christian Horner. “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 has returned to the Red Bull fold for 2023 after four seasons away, with the second half of that an often-bruising two-year spell at McLaren.
Though he claimed his eighth grand prix win by leading a 1-2 at the Italian GP in 2021, Ricciardo struggled last year in a McLaren MCL36 that had problematic corner-entry characteristics and was comprehensively outperformed by team-mate Lando Norris. He was bought out of the third year of his deal to make way for rookie Oscar Piastri.
Ricciardo got his original F1 break by going out on loan from Red Bull while on its junior books to the HRT squad in 2011, then contested his first full F1 season with the Toro Rosso outfit that changed its name to AlphaTauri in 2020.
Seven of his eight grand prix wins came during a five-year spell at the senior Red Bull team from 2014-18.
Ricciardo was quoted by both Red Bull and AlphaTauri as saying: “I am stoked to be back on track with the Red Bull family!”