Red Bull accused of playing mind games with Sergio Perez by signing Daniel Ricciardo

Sergio Perez is contracted to Red Bull until the end of 2024 but his current form has come under huge scrutiny.

Formula 1 presenter Will Buxton shared his opinion on Tuesday’s breaking news, which saw Nyck de Vries sacked from AlphaTauri.

It was announced on Tuesday that after just 10 races, De Vries would be replaced by Red Bull development driver Daniel Ricciardo for the remainder of the 2023 F1 season.

As a result, Ricciardo will be alongside Yuki Tsunoda at the Faenza-based team from next weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix, marking the end of his relatively short-time away from the grid.

Ricciardo had been keen on returning to the grid for 2024; however, he’s very pleased to be back at AlphaTauri for the remainder of the season.

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What this means for Red Bull and AlphaTauri in 2024 is something which is now being heavily discussed, especially with Sergio Perez currently struggling for performance.

Whilst he’s contracted to the end of 2024, Perez’s current form will likely see Red Bull consider his future with the team ahead of next season.

Buxton is convinced that Red Bull loaning Ricciardo to AlphaTauri is to try and put “pressure” on Perez to quickly improve or be replaced next season by the eight-time race winner.

With Red Bull junior Liam Lawson expected to race for AlphaTauri next season, there won’t be room for Ricciardo at the side.

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Putting Ricciardo in De Vries’ car could potentially be Red Bull’s way of “seriously evaluating” the Australian for a move back to the first team for 2024, to replace Perez.

Ricciardo has impressed Red Bull this season with his work in the simulator, whilst he also set a time which would’ve been good enough for the front row at the British Grand Prix on Tuesday, during a Pirelli tyre test.

Whether Ricciardo can perform in the worst car on the grid is now a question on everyone’s lips, given how he must show strong pace in the remaining races this season to warrant a seat somewhere next season.

“To me it screams of the wider play and that’s about putting pressure on Perez to sort himself out,” Buxton said on Twitter.

“No point rushing [Ricciardo] back early solely to prep for AT in 24. Either they’re seriously evaluating him for RBR 24 or want Checo to think that they are.”

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Buxton wouldn’t be shocked if Ricciardo does replace Perez at Red Bull, with the presenter having raised the idea of Checo perhaps returning to Aston Martin, who he raced for whilst they were known as Force India and then Racing Point.

Buxton later added: “It shouldn’t be a surprise if Ricciardo ends up back at RBR. No lineup since his departure has been as strong as him and Max. How the rest of the field could shake up makes for an intriguing bit of mental gymnastics.

“Lawson to AT makes complete sense as a strong option for 24. As for Checo, how about a dream return to team Silverstone alongside Alonso at Aston?”