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Red Bull team principal Christian Horner explains Nyck de Vries' AlphaTauri dismissal and Daniel Ricciardo return

Daniel Ricciardo is back in F1 after replacing Nyck de Vries at AlphaTauri ahead of this weekend's Hungarian Grand Prix; watch all sessions from the Hungarian GP live on Sky Sports F1; Lights out on Sunday at 2pm; F1 Juniors will be live on Sky Showcase and Sky Sports Mix

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Ted Kravitz says Daniel Ricciardo could challenge Sergio Perez for his Red Bull spot next season if he's able to prevent Alpha Tauri from finishing last in the Constructor's Championship

Christian Horner has explained the reasons behind Daniel Ricciardo's return to F1 in place of Nyck de Vries at AlphaTauri.

News broke two days after the British Grand Prix that Ricciardo would make a surprise mid-season return after sitting out the opening 10 races of the 2023 season having lost his seat at McLaren.

The Australian was in the middle of a tyre test at Silverstone when De Vries was told he would not drive for AlphaTauri from this weekend's Hungarian Grand Prix - live on Sky Sports F1, with Sky F1 Junior coverage on Sky Showcase and Sky Sports Mix.

"Nyck is a very capable driver, a Formula E champion, a Formula 2 champion, he's obviously got a lot of experience, he's not a young driver as such from an age perspective," Horner said on the F1 Nation podcast. "And I just didn't see how it fitted within the junior programme. It was almost a stop-gap.

"It all happened a little quicker than expected, bearing in mind that we hadn't completed the test. Helmut [Marko] spoke with Nyck and he was the one that obviously had recruited him. He was the one that spoke with Nyck about Lap 11 of the test, I think."

Nyck de Vries
Image: Nyck de Vries had just 10 races at AlphaTauri before being dropped

He added: "It was becoming obviously a difficult situation for Nyck de Vries," Horner explained. "But there was a high expectation on him because, whilst inexperienced in Formula 1, he's obviously a very experienced driver.

"I think there was a general feeling that Nyck wasn't quite hitting the mark. And then the question was, what are the options if we were to switch things around?

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"And from a Red Bull Racing perspective, the most interesting option for me was to see how Daniel performs. So that was the decision that was made. It all happened pretty quick and here he is for the Hungarian Grand Prix."

Ricciardo looking at 2025 Red Bull seat

The consensus is if Ricciardo outperforms Yuki Tsunoda at AlphaTauri in the second half of the season, he will put pressure Sergio Perez for a Red Bull seat.

Perez has struggled recently, missing out on Q3 in the last five events and taking just one podium in that same period. Meanwhile, team-mate Max Verstappen is on a streak of six race victories.

Horner confirmed Perez is contracted for next year and the plan is to retain the Mexican alongside Verstappen at Red Bull.

Sergio Perez
Image: Sergio Perez talks to Helmut Marko as questions continue about the Mexican's future at Red Bull

"At the moment there is something in place [for Ricciardo] to the end of the season. There are no thoughts or expectations beyond that. Our drivers are going to be Max and Checo again next year," said the Red Bull team principal.

"But it's always good to have talent in reserve. Daniel is viewing AlphaTauri as pitching for that 2025 Red Bull seat. That's his goal and objective. By going to AlphaTauri he sees that as his best route for 2025."

On Ricciardo's mindset ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix, Horner added: "First of all, he had to be clear did he want to do it? Stepping into an AlphaTauri is very different to driving a Red Bull car. It will certainly have its challenges.

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Craig Slater has more information about Daniel Ricciardo's return to an F1 race seat, as he replaces Nyck De Vries for Alpha Tauri for the rest of the season

The thing we need to be sure of: was he up for that challenge of scrapping to get out of Q1? He seemed more than happy to go back into that situation to get back on the grid and be a Formula 1 driver again.

"What you have to remember is Daniel drove for us for five years and won seven races in that period - some incredible performances. He spent three years driving alongside Max and the margins between them at that stage were pretty fine.

"He made the decision to leave the team and explore other options that didn't work out for him. But the underlining talent was there. Red Bull had a reputation for being hard on its drivers but every driver needs a different scenario, whether it's an arm around the shoulder or a different approach. We take exactly the same approach with Sergio - supporting him with his moments of difficulty as well.

"The junior team, there are high expectations, but Daniel isn't a junior driver. He's already proven himself in the time he's had with us. Therefore it was about trying to rediscover the form we know he is capable of."

Sky Sports F1's live Hungarian GP schedule

Thursday July 20
2pm: Drivers' press conference

Friday July 21
8:55am: F3 Practice
10am: F2 Practice
12pm: Hungarian GP Practice One (session starts 12:30pm)
2pm: F3 Qualifying
2:45pm: F2 Qualifying
3:40pm: Hungarian GP Practice Two (session starts 4pm)
5:15pm: The F1 Show

Saturday July 22
8:45am: F3 Sprint
11:15am: Hungarian GP Practice Three (session starts 11:30am)
1:10pm: F2 Sprint
2:15pm: Hungarian GP Qualifying build-up (Sky Showcase)
5pm: Ted's Qualifying Notebook

Sunday July 23
7:20am: F3 Feature Race
9am: F2 Feature Race
11am: Porsche Supercup
12:30pm: Grand Prix Sunday - Hungarian GP build-up
1:30pm: F1 Juniors: Hungarian Grand Prix (Sky Sports Mix and Sky Showcase)
4pm: Chequered Flag: British GP reaction
5pm: Ted's Notebook

Daniel Ricciardo's return and first F1 Juniors broadcast headline the Hungarian Grand Prix! Watch all the action live on Sky Sports F1 from July 21-23. Get Sky Sports

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