Christian Horner backs Daniel Ricciardo for vacant Alpine seat

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Red Bull boss Christian Horner has advised Alpine to give their vacant 2023 seat to Daniel Ricciardo, claiming he would go after the Australian if he was in charge of the Enstone-based team.

Since cutting ties with Red Bull in 2018, Ricciardo has had four disappointing seasons in Formula 1, and is currently down 14th in the drivers’ standings with 19 points.

Two podium smashes at Renault in late 2020 and a thrilling Monza victory last year, with McLaren finishing second with a 1-2, were two of the highlights of a disappointing period for the Perth driver.

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Ricciardo is set to face the consequences, with McLaren relinquishing the 33-year-old with 12 months remaining on his contract and replacing him with fellow youngster Oscar Piastre.

Ricciardo has only six races left in 2022 to persuade other teams to continue his signature, but there are currently only vacancies at Williams, Alfa Romeo, Alpine and Haas.

Despite being a step backwards of sorts, reviving his partnership with Alpine, formerly Renault, seems to be his most logical destination.

However, Ricciardo’s decision to jump ship and sign for McLaren before the 2021 season did not align well with Renault’s hierarchy, notably former president Cyril Abiteboul.

talking on F1: Beyond the grid On the podcast, Horner claimed Ricciardo was still able to win races and climb to the podium despite his recent slump.

“I think I’ll go with Ricciardo to be honest with you,” he said.

“Obviously they’ve known him for two seasons and he’s been very together during his last season there, he scored on the podiums, and I think he’s the kind that I think you can rebuild.

“Obviously it wasn’t a great experience for him (at McLaren) for whatever reason but you just have to think about some of the motivators he’s done for us, some of the victories he’s had, the podiums, some amazing overtakes he’s been able to…that’s It’s still there, I’m sure it just needs a bit of a reset.

“You don’t just forget how to accomplish, so I hope he gets another chance and puts himself back in the grid for next year.”

But not everyone agrees with Horner.

Last week, former Formula One world champion Jacques Villeneuve questioned why Albin, or any team for that matter, would pursue the signing of Ricciardo after four “horrific” years in the sport for the Australian.

Daniel Ricciardo from Australia.  Photo by Dan Esteten/Getty Images
Daniel Ricciardo from Australia. Photo by Dan Esteten/Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

When asked after the Italian Grand Prix if he was surprised that Ricciardo had not been named a candidate, Villeneuve’s response was painfully blunt.

“Why would it be?” World Champion 1997 F1 TV.

“He had two bad years at Renault and two terrible years at McLaren. Those are four years. Almost half of his Formula 1 career has been bad.

“The Alps have no reason to take him, especially when he’s driven there before.

“Modern cars don’t seem to fit his driving style.

“He was great at Red Bull. He showed amazing overtaking maneuvers. He was way ahead of Max at first. But in the end, Max started to deal with him. Then he turned. After the switch, something seemed to happen and he never got to deal with. He never recovered from it.”

A possible gaffe while chatting with Mexican driver Sergio Perez after the Dutch Grand Prix may have revealed Ricciardo’s intention to take a break from Formula 1 and return in 2024.

But Villeneuve advised against such a move.

“It can make him lazy,” he explained.

“You can take a year off if you’re Alonso, Schumacher, if you’re world champion and you’ve won many races, if you know in the track you’ll always be at your best, no matter the season. After four bad years you don’t.

“You take what you can get. If you have an offer to drive in Formula 1, you take all the cockpit. You’ll say in public, ‘You don’t want to drive for one of the rear teams’, but if that’s the only contract you can get, I will expect it.”

The F1 season resumes next week at the Singapore Grand Prix, with lights out at 11pm AEST on Sunday 2 October.

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