Formula 1: Is this Daniel Ricciardo’s final opportunity?

Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, AlphaTauri, Formula 1 (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, AlphaTauri, Formula 1 (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images) /

Daniel Ricciardo is set to make a shock return to Formula 1 as a full-time driver for Red Bull’s sister team, AlphaTauri, as the replacement for Nyck de Vries.

Ever since Daniel Ricciardo exited Formula 1 after the 2022 season, when his contract was bought out by McLaren, rumors of the 34-year-old making a return have circulated.

Rumors of a mid-season switch gained a lot of steam very recently, with Nyck de Vries having had a very poor start to his rookie season at Red Bull sister team AlphaTauri, and that move has now come to fruition.

With the Aussie, who signed with Red Bull as their third driver ahead of the 2023 season, being one of the most well-liked drivers on the grid, fans will be very excited to see his season debut in the Hungarian Grand Prix at the Hungaroring later this month.

With Red Bull choosing to make this move with immediate effect, it clearly means that they have quite a lot of belief in Ricciardo to produce results for the team currently lowest in the constructor standings.

With Daniel Ricciardo nearing the end of his Formula 1 career, this is his last chance to show he is deserving of a full-time seat.

Is Ricciardo still one of the top 20 drivers in the world? He is best known for his great performance with Red Bull in the first half of his career. Since then, his stints with Renault and McLaren did not go as he had hoped. As a result, there is some concern as to whether he can still produce good results, given the Faenza-based team’s standing as the worst team on the grid.

Ricciardo’s thoughts on driving for such a team are quite contrary to what he said in Australia earlier this season.

"“To go back and to maybe put myself in any seat that’s fighting at best for like a top 10, I don’t think it’s going to bring the best out of me.”"

Times have definitely changed, and his opportunity to show how capable he still is has come much earlier than expected.

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With 12 races left on the 2023 schedule, Ricciardo’s goal will be to score as many points as he can and put in good performances each race weekend. The stakes are quite high, and his performance could very well determine whether he retires or comes back full-time in 2024.