Christian Horner, the head of Oracle Red Bull Racing, has shed some light on the mid-season "loan" of reserve driver Daniel Ricciardo to the AlphaTauri team. In a recent podcast interview, Horner addressed the move that has seen Ricciardo replace Nyck de Vries, who had hitherto struggled to make his mark on the Formula 1 stage.
An Unexpected Turn of Events
Nyck de Vries had served as Mercedes' reserve driver for three seasons before landing a seat in the AlphaTauri car at the commencement of the current season. His transition to the AlphaTauri cockpit was sparked by his surprise performance at Williams during last year's race weekend in Italy, where he managed a commendable ninth-place finish.
However, despite his initial promise, de Vries has had a difficult season, consistently failing to match the performance of his teammate, Yuki Tsunoda. His struggles were underscored by a glaring zero-point record in the ten races he competed in this season.
Commenting on the situation, Horner stated, "It was becoming obviously a difficult situation for Nyck De Vries. But there was a high expectation on him because, whilst inexperienced in Formula 1, he's obviously a very experienced driver."
The Decision to Switch
According to Horner, there was a consensus within the team that de Vries was falling short of expectations, which naturally led to deliberations over potential alternatives.
He elaborated, "I think there was a general feeling that Nyck wasn't quite hitting the mark. And then the question was, you know, what are the options if we were to switch things around?" The solution materialized in the form of Daniel Ricciardo, a promising backup driver for Red Bull Racing.
The team's interest was piqued by the opportunity to assess Ricciardo's performance in the competitive arena, leading to the decision to reassign him to AlphaTauri. “It all happened pretty quick, and here he is for the Hungarian Grand Prix,” revealed Horner, highlighting the swift decision-making process that transpired.
Though the switch was executed quicker than anticipated, especially since testing hadn't been completed, Horner believes it was the right call. He closed, “If we've got to do something, we might as well get on with it and give Daniel 12 races to see what he's capable of”.