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Ricciardo replacing de Vries at AlphaTauri for rest of season

Daniel Ricciardo Daniel Ricciardo - The Canadian Press

MILTON KEYNES, England (AP) — Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo will make a shock return to Formula One at the upcoming Hungarian Grand Prix.

The eight-time Grand Prix winner, who was axed by McLaren at the end of last year, will replace Nyck de Vries at Red Bull’s junior team AlphaTauri for the rest of the year.

The Hungarian GP is on July 23.

“I am stoked to be back on track with the Red Bull family,” Ricciardo said in a statement released by Red Bull Racing on Tuesday.

Rookie De Vries was hired by AlphaTauri at the beginning of this season but he has been dropped after only 10 races, paving the way for Ricciardo’s sudden comeback.

The 34-year-old Ricciardo’s career looked to be all but over after he was deemed surplus to requirements by McLaren following two underwhelming seasons with the British team.

Ricciardo failed to land a seat for the 2023 season and instead chose to return to Red Bull — the team at which he won seven Grands Prix — as a reserve driver.

“I’m very pleased to welcome Daniel back into the team," AlphaTauri team principal Franz Tost said. “There’s no doubt about his driving skill, and he already knows many of us, so his integration will be easy and straightforward ... I would like to thank Nyck for his valuable contribution during his time with Scuderia AlphaTauri, and I wish him all the best for the future.”

Ricciardo got his first taste of this season’s Red Bull during a tire test at Silverstone on Tuesday — 48 hours after the British Grand Prix in which De Vries finished 17th.

Given Sergio Perez’s torrid run of form, which has seen him fall 99 points adrift of teammate Max Verstappen in the world championship standings, AlphaTauri’s move to hire Ricciardo will fuel speculation that the Australian could land a seat back at Red Bull.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said “we are excited to see what the rest of the season brings for Daniel on loan” at AlphaTauri.

For the 28-year-old De Vries, the writing appeared to be on the wall after Red Bull motorsport adviser Helmut Marko recently said Horner was right to have questioned why he was signed.

The Dutch driver crashed on multiple occasions and failed to score a single point with a best finish of 12th at the Monaco Grand Prix in May.