On Tuesday, Red Bull and its affiliate team, AlphaTauri, made the announcement that Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull’s third driver, would be taking the place of de Vries starting from the Hungarian Grand Prix next week. This surprising move sees Ricciardo return to his former team during his sabbatical from F1.
Marko, the Red Bull advisor, explained his decision to remove the 28-year-old rookie de Vries after only 10 races, stating that the Dutchman failed to bridge the performance gap with his teammate Yuki Tsunoda in the manner expected by the team.
“We signed Nyck based on his impressive performance at Monza last year,” Marko told Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf. “We anticipated that he would be on par with his teammate Tsunoda this year, but unfortunately, that was not the case. In fact, he consistently lagged three tenths behind Yuki. We observed no improvement.”
“We had to take action. Why wait, and what difference would two more races make if there is no progress? Nyck is a great person, but he simply lacked the necessary speed.”
Marko further explained that de Vries’ previous accomplishments as a Formula 2 and Formula E champion led to a different evaluation of his performance compared to other under-pressure drivers, such as Tsunoda, who was given an extended opportunity despite a challenging rookie season in 2021.
“At the age of 28, with substantial experience and being a test driver for various Formula 1 cars, he cannot be compared to a young rookie, in my opinion,” Marko clarified. “After his promising start in Baku at the end of April, I expected him to perform better, but unfortunately, he had another crash. Regrettably, he never delivered a truly outstanding lap that impressed us.”
Marko confirmed that Ricciardo’s performance during the recent Silverstone Pirelli test in Red Bull’s current RB19 was the final factor that convinced the team of the 34-year-old’s return to form after his departure from McLaren.
Marko emphasized that Ricciardo’s arrival would inject fresh energy into the struggling Faenza-based team, currently placed 10th in the constructors’ championship and awaiting an overhaul during the off-season.
“During the tyre test, Ricciardo’s lap times were competitive across three different sets of tires,” Marko revealed. “If Ricciardo hadn’t shown the required speed, we would have needed to explore other options. However, AlphaTauri’s current position in the constructors’ standings is far from ideal, and as a result, we needed to make a change. Such transformations often occur after a driver switch, and Ricciardo will bring new vigor to the team.”
Additional reporting by Ronald Vording
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about driver swap
Why did Red Bull replace de Vries with Ricciardo in the AlphaTauri F1 team mid-season?
Red Bull made the decision to replace de Vries with Ricciardo due to de Vries’ failure to close the performance gap with his teammate, Yuki Tsunoda. Despite his previous accomplishments, de Vries consistently lagged behind and showed no improvement. Red Bull believed that Ricciardo’s experience and competitive lap times during testing made him a better choice to bring fresh energy and potentially improve the team’s standings.