Horner: Ricciardo 'pitching' for seat at Red Bull in 2025

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Christian Horner says Daniel Ricciardo's return to the grid with AlphaTauri is about the Aussie's resolve to prove to Red Bull that he will be worthy of a seat with the Milton Keynes-based outfit in 2025.

The disappointing results achieved this season at AlphaTauri by rookie Nyck de Vries encouraged Red Bull motorsport boss Helmut Marko to pull the Dutchman out of his seat and to slot in Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing's reserve driver.

The latter claims his time on the sidelines this season has revived his passion for F1. The 34-year-old is facing a big challenge given AlphaTauri's mediocre track record in 2023, but Horner explained the bigger picture behind Ricciardo's return to the fray.

"At the moment, there's only something in place until the end of the season, so there are no thoughts or expectations beyond that," said the Red Bull team boss, speaking on the F1 Nation podcast.

"We've loaned him to AlphaTauri until the end of the year.

"Obviously, our drivers are going to be Max and Checo again next year, but it's always good to have talent in reserve. And I think Daniel is viewing AlphaTauri, he firmly wants to be pitching for that 2025 Red Bull seat.

"That is his goal and objective and, by going to AlphaTauri, I think he sees that as his best route of stating his case for 2025."

While de Vries' exit was not unexpected, Marko had repeatedly said that, in the event of an in-season change, Ricciardo would likely not be Red bull's preferred choice.

But the Aussie's performance last week at Silverstone during a Pirelli tyre test, convinced Horner and Marko to assign Ricciardo to de Vries' seat with immediate effect.

"What impressed me the most, and I went up to have a look at the test, was bearing in mind he hasn't driven this car and hadn't been in a car for seven months, within his third or fourth lap he was down to a time that was within a second of what our drivers were achieving," revealed Horner.

"Then his first proper run, as it were, on tyres that were comparable, you could see his confidence was growing and growing.

"That first [flying] lap of probably what was his seventh lap of the day would have put him on the front of the grid. So it was hugely impressive."


At AlphaTauri, Ricciardo will be up against an under-performing car and a talented young teammate. It's a challenging proposition, and one that Horner had to make sure that Ricciardo was willing to embrace before sealing the Aussie's return.

"First of all, we had to be clear that did he want to do it?" Horner explained. "Stepping into an AlphaTauri is very different to driving a Red Bull Car.

"It will certainly have its challenges and I think that thing that we needed to be sure of was he up for that challenge of scrapping to get out of Q1? And he seemed more than happy to go back into that situation, to get back on the grid and be an F1 driver again."

Nyck de Vries (NLD) AlphaTauri on the grid. 05.03.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 1, Bahrain Grand Prix, Sakhir, Bahrain, Race Day.

Marko recently revealed that from the start he was at odds with Horner over the decision to recruit de Vries, and in hindsight the Red Bull team boss was right to have his reservations.

"It was becoming obviously a difficult situation for Nyck de Vries because there was a high expectation on him, because whilst inexperienced in F1, he's obviously a very experienced driver," Horner said.

"I think that there was a general feeling that Nyck wasn't quite hitting the mark.

"I think that Nyck is a very capable driver and a FE champion and an F2 champion, but he's obviously got a lot of experience.

"He's not a young driver as such from an age perspective. And I just didn't see how it fitted within the junior programme. It was always a stop gap."

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