Red Bull wanted to block Daniel Ricciardo comeback

Red Bull signed Daniel Ricciardo for 2023 as their development driver before loaning him to AlphaTauri.

AlphaTauri CEO Peter Bayer has revealed that Red Bull were initially against Daniel Ricciardo returning to their sister team, something which ultimately happened at the 2023 Hungarian Grand Prix.

The Faenza-based side had started the 2023 season with Yuki Tsunoda and rookie Nyck de Vries, although the latter significantly struggled in the opening rounds.

Pressure was quickly applied onto De Vries, before it became crystal clear that he’d be sacked if he failed to improve.

Bayer joined AlphaTauri during De Vries’ struggles, resulting in him making a ‘Plan B’ in case a new driver was needed.

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At the time, Ricciardo was Red Bull’s development driver, a role he accepted for 2023 after having his contract terminated at McLaren.

Bayer was certain that Ricciardo would be an excellent driver to replace De Vries, given the “positive impact” he’d have on the team.

However, Red Bull and advisor Dr Helmut Marko were initially against letting the Australian leave for De Vries’ seat, although they eventually allowed the move to happen after the British Grand Prix.

Ricciardo completed a successful test at Silverstone after the British GP for Red Bull, which confirmed to the Austrians that he was still quick enough for a seat on the grid.

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“When I started, I always looked a bit and thought to myself, ‘If Nyck de Vries doesn’t make it in terms of performance, then Daniel would be a great solution for us’,” Bayer told Motorsport Magazin.

“Why? Daniel has experience, so he helps us with the setup on all the routes. Daniel is a real reference for Yuki [Tsunoda]. He brought an incredible amount of new energy into the team within a week.

“Our mechanics were happy, ‘Hey, wow, something is happening!’ The transition wasn’t easy, but at the end of the day it had such a positive impact. Originally it was said, ‘No, Daniel is a reserve driver at Red Bull and it stays that way’.

“And then over the course of a month we actually kept asking how things were going. At some point Christian Horner came to us and said, ‘We’re doing the test at Silverstone, maybe we’ll take a look at it’. Then Helmut [Marko] said, ‘Yes, why not?'”

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Bayer went onto explain how driver line-ups are discussed between Red Bull and AlphaTauri, with Marko ultimately having the final call on Ricciardo returning to the sister squad.

“Everyone really sits at the same table,” Bayer revealed.

“There were discussions in which [Red Bull projects chief] Oliver Mintzlaff was involved, [outgoing AlphaTauri team principal] Franz Tost was of course involved in a leading role, but Christian Horner was also at the table at one point. Ultimately, the decision is made by Helmut Marko – it will stay that way.”