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Ricciardo only an AlphaTauri F1 option if juniors are not ready

AlphaTauri Formula 1 boss Franz Tost has suggested that Daniel Ricciardo would only be an option for the team if no Red Bull junior driver was considered ready to graduate.

Daniel Ricciardo, Third Driver, Red Bull Racing

Ricciardo is currently serving as a reserve driver for Red Bull and AlphaTauri, and inevitably he has been mentioned in connection with a seat at the latter in 2024.

However, the team has always been seen in the Red Bull camp as a training ground for young drivers, and Tost says that won’t change unless it’s deemed that none of the youngsters are ready for F1.

“The philosophy is quite clear, the performance decides,” he said, when asked if Ricciardo might appeal for next year. “Of course, the team philosophy is to educate young drivers.

“But if young drivers are not currently there – there are coming some good young drivers, [Ayumu] Iwasa is doing a good job, [Isack] Hadjar is doing a good job – but it's simply a little bit too early for them.

“I see them earlier or later in our team. But if the particular time is too early, then maybe we have to find another solution.

“But this has not been discussed so far. So far everything is like [as usual] with our team.”

Asked about Liam Lawson, who is currently starring in Super Formula in Japan and shares the F1 reserve role with Ricciardo, Tost said: “Liam has done a good job when he was driving for us last year in Abu Dhabi.

“And he is currently also doing a good job in Japan because it's quite a tough championship over there. And as I said before, it's a performance question.

“We have to find out, we have to see which driver is first of all available and matured enough and educated enough and ready to go for an F1 car. This we will see. Currently nothing has been decided.”

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, with Nyck de Vries, Scuderia AlphaTauri, in the drivers press conference

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, with Nyck de Vries, Scuderia AlphaTauri, in the drivers press conference

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Asked if the seat of incumbent Nyck de Vries was under threat within this season, Tost said it was up to the Dutchman to prove that he deserved the drive.

“Nyck decides, not the team,” he said. “If he shows a good performance, why should we change him?”

Tost acknowledged that the first part of this season has not been easy for any of the rookie drivers, but made it clear he expects to see a better performance from de Vries  on a run of traditional European tracks which he is familiar with.

“In F1 every driver has pressure,” said Tost. “And we will see how Nyck is doing here, how Nyck is doing in Silverstone because he knows these racetracks. We must not forget that the rookie drivers nowadays are really in a difficult situation.

“Why? If you look at the first part of the season, most of the racetracks, they even don't know, they haven't raced in Melbourne before in F2 or F3, they haven't raced in Saudi Arabia or Miami, Baku maybe, but in Baku we had the sprint race, that means like here [in Austria], FP1, qualifying for the race, qualifying for the sprint race, and then the sprint.

“That means the weekends are flying away. For the rookie drivers, this is really very, very difficult. Therefore now, at least, they come to tracks which they know, it's Austria, Silverstone, Spa, Budapest, Monza. And I think this helps more, also to be more confident there.”

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