In a stunning turn of events, Australian racing sensation Daniel Ricciardo is set to continue his Formula 1 journey with the AlphaTauri team alongside the young prodigy, Yuki Tsunoda, in the 2024 season. The announcement came as a delightful surprise following the Japanese Grand Prix, where both drivers showcased their skills and earned their spot for the upcoming season.
The Red Bull sister team’s decision to extend the contracts of both Ricciardo and Tsunoda for another year has sent shockwaves through the paddock. While fans speculated about Ricciardo’s future, it was recently revealed on the Pit Talk podcast that the ink had dried on his 2024 contract long before the Japanese Grand Prix, dating back to the British Grand Prix, nearly three months ago.
Ricciardo’s return to Formula 1 under the AlphaTauri banner was a momentous occasion, catching many off guard just days before the Hungarian Grand Prix. He stepped into the seat previously occupied by Nyck De Vries, who faced struggles in accumulating points for the team. AlphaTauri made an official announcement that Ricciardo would be joining them on loan from Red Bull Racing for the remainder of the 2023 season, a transition that began at the Hungarian Grand Prix. Yet, intriguingly, there was no explicit mention of his role for the 2024 season at that time.
Last weekend, despite being in therapy for an injury to his left metacarpal, Ricciardo enthusiastically shared with the press his anticipation to continue racing alongside Tsunoda in 2024. This revelation effectively confirmed a contract extension, securing the pair as AlphaTauri’s dynamic duo for the following year. The team’s principal, Franz Tost, echoed this sentiment, emphasizing the competitive edge this driver lineup would provide for the 2024 season.
Nonetheless, an intriguing twist in this narrative emerged during the latest episode of Fox Sports’ Pit Talk podcast. Featuring prominent figures in the motorsport world such as Australia’s Michael Lamonato, Speedcafe’s Mat Coch, and the renowned Ian Parkes, the podcast offered a revealing glimpse behind the scenes. It disclosed that Ricciardo had, in fact, inked his 2024 contract at approximately the same time he joined AlphaTauri in July. The formal announcement, however, was strategically delayed until the recent weekend.
“I take this as confirmation of Daniel. Ultimately, I have reason to believe that he signed that contract [for 2024] at Silverstone a couple of days after the British Grand Prix. I think it was locked in at that point, having spoken to his manager a few times during that period, although Blake would never tell me.
“Yeah, all I’ll say is that his dentist does an excellent job because he did a lot of smiling. Must have taken a leaf out of Daniel’s book on that one. But yeah, there was quiet confidence there for a long time, but it was great that we have that confirmation now.
“And it also explains why Red Bull has not been in a hurry, why Daniel hasn’t been in a hurry to jump back in that car and to really rush things with his recovery because he’s never needed to. He’s confident in that he knows his future.
“Right now, the best thing that he can do is put himself in the shop window next year. This year doesn’t matter. So just get yourself right, get yourself back to full fitness, or very close to it, so that anything that’s happening in his hand doesn’t impact his driving, doesn’t detract from his driving, because doing that, all he’s doing is setting himself up to make that job harder.
“His sole job now is to impress Helmut Marko and Christian Horner to the point where it’s a no-brainer for them come this time next year. Yeah, that’s his sole job. He doesn’t need to do anything else, everything else between now and then is a bonus.”
In conclusion, whether by design or circumstance, Daniel Ricciardo is firmly locked into the AlphaTauri cockpit for the 2024 Formula 1 season. The anticipation among fans and the motorsport fraternity is palpable as we look forward to witnessing this formidable pairing’s exploits on the track.