Alpine boss explains why the team chose Gasly over Ricciardo

Alpine boss explains why the team chose Gasly over Ricciardo

Next season Daniel Ricciardo will take Nyck de Vries’ place as Mercedes’ backup driver.

Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo’s almost certain absences from the starting lineup for the 2023 season suggests that it will be an odd year for Formula 1 fans.

However, Ricciardo’s future was still up in the air prior to last weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix. Vettel, of course, will retire from the championship at the end of the season.

The Australian driver was thought to be a long shot to land Mick Schumacher’s Haas seat, but then rumors surfaced that he was in “advanced” negotiations with Mercedes to drive as their backup next season.

These speculations seemed to be true, especially after it was revealed that Nyck de Vries would compete for AlphaTauri in the upcoming season before to the start of Suzuka’s third practice session.

When it was first revealed that he would be leaving McLaren, many predicted the Australian would head back to Enstone, which was once the headquarters of Renault and is now known as Alpine. However, those discussions immediately died down once it was made evident that Pierre Gasly was the front-runner to replace Fernando Alonso.

“I knew they were talking for a while and I knew they were very interested in Pierre,” Ricciardo confirmed Alpine’s choice to sign Gasly.

When announcing Gasly for 2023, Alpine CEO Otmar Szafnauer explicitly acknowledged that they had spoken with Ricciardo but chose the Frenchman instead since he was “quick and young.”

“At the beginning we discussed with a few drivers, including Daniel, and Pierre meets the criteria that I had to a tee… he’s experienced, fast and young,” said Szafnauer.

The 33-year-old has little choice but to race in Formula 1 as a reserve in 2023, but he has already set his sights on a comeback to a full-time seat in 2024. Although it has been suggested that the Australian driver should attempt another shot with the F1 teams to see another year in the sport, the Honey Badger has stated that this is not currently in his plans.

Even though he won’t be on the grid in 2023, Ricciardo isn’t mentally prepared to abandon his F1 career.

“I think the reality is now I won’t be on the grid in 2023,” he said. “I think it’s now just trying to set up for ’24. It’s kind of like hitting pause for a little bit… As fun or cool as it sounds to compete in something else, the truth is that mentally, I’m not there yet.”

The Australian’s representative, Nick Thimm, has suggested that his client has just been dealt a “terrible hand” given how poorly his career has performed since leaving Red Bull at the end of 2018. This comes after the departing McLaren driver was accused of having a “ego” and making rash decisions ever since leaving the soon-to-be Constructors’ Champions.

“None of this is about ego, unachievable demands, or a sudden lack of opportunity,” Thimm said. “This is about a man who was dealt a bad hand, now finding the right next opportunity.”

“Uncovering a new project where he can work with a team that embraces his unique set of skills… It’s a different approach yes, but it’s also a new day for the sport. He’s not done. And as we saw this season, anything can happen.”

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