Daniel Ricciardo looks set to return to AlphaTauri in 2024.
According to ESPN, Ricciardo and Yuki Tsunoda will continue to be the team’s two primary drivers next season. Tsunoda is currently in his second season with the team while Ricciardo replaced Nyck De Vries after the first 10 races of the season.
Ricciardo is currently sidelined after breaking a bone in his left hand during a practice crash at Zandvoort ahead of the Dutch Grand Prix. He’s been replaced by Liam Lawson for the past three races and Lawson is again set to compete in Ricciardo’s place in this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix.
The return of Ricciardo and Tsunoda to the team could put Lawson’s immediate F1 future in limbo despite impressive results in his three substitute races so far. Lawson finished 13th in the Netherlands, 11th at Monza in the Italian Grand Prix and was ninth in Singapore. He finished two spots ahead of Tsunoda at Zandvoort while Tsunoda’s had mechanical issues before he’s completed a lap in each of the last two races.
AlphaTauri was Lawson’s best chance at a Formula 1 ride in 2024, especially if the team wanted to take a longer-term view in terms of driver development. The only other open seat on the grid next season could be the second seat at Williams if Logan Sergeant doesn’t return.
Ricciardo’s best chance to return to Red Bull?
Ricciardo, 34, is an eight-time Formula 1 winner and parted ways with McLaren at the end of the 2022 season. He decided to rejoin Red Bull as the team’s reserve driver behind Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez ahead of the 2023 season after getting seven of his career wins with the team from 2014-18.
He’s unlikely to win a race at AlphaTauri in 2024 as the team is one of the backmarkers on the F1 grid. The team has scored just five points so far in 2023 and sits last in the constructor’s standings.
But if Ricciardo can consistently outrun Tsunoda at the junior Red Bull team and get his car in the points on a semi-regular basis next season, he could be seen as a viable option to return to Red Bull Racing in 2025. While soon-to-be three-time champion Max Verstappen is locked up for the foreseeable future, Sergio Perez’s contract runs through the 2024 season.
It’s no secret that Perez has been consistently outrun by Verstappen, especially in qualifying. If the team decides it wants to make a switch in two seasons, Ricciardo would be an appealing option if he’s having a solid 2024.