With Nyck de Vries failing to live up to his teammate Yuki Tsunoda at AlphaTauri, speculation has begun over how much longer the Dutchman will remain at the team.
The Red Bull junior team famously expects a lot from its drivers, with a willingness to ruthless dump anyone who fails to rise to the demands placed upon them.
If de Vries was dropped from AlphaTauri, Daniel Ricciardo has been touted as the obvious choice for his replacement given the Australian’s experience and current role as Red Bull reserve driver.
The rumours have been fuelled by Ricciardo’s recent seat fitting at AlphaTauri’s Faenza base, although this later turned out to be a long-planned event as part of his deal with Red Bull.
Ricciardo is available as a reserve driver for AlphaTauri should one of the current drivers be unavailable to fulfil their duties.
Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko has also played down claims that Ricciardo is in line to replace de Vries while accepting the Dutchman has been warned he needs to vastly improve to keep his seat.
Now, 1996 Formula 1 world champion Damon Hill has joined the list of people who have ruled out Ricciardo’s return at the Faenza team, as he believes the Australian wouldn’t settle for a midteam outfit.
“He [Ricciardo] had a seat fit an AlphaTauri so that set chins wagging,” Hill said on the Sky Sports F1 Podcast.
“Realistically what does Daniel Ricciardo have to gain by going up against Yuki Tsunoda or Nyck de Vries in an AlphaTauri?”
“I think there is nothing more to this than them needing a reserve driver. If they do then he’ll jump in.
“He’s already said he doesn’t want to be in a middling team. He only wants to be in a car that can win.”
After five races, AlphaTauri is struggling, having secured only two points, leaving them in P9 and just one point clear of Williams.