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Opinion: How seasoned F1 Driver Daniel Riccardo won’t help team AlphaTauri

Riccardo’s driving for AlphaTauri may not improve the team’s standings in the season’s results for the Constructors Championship and here's why.
<a href="" target="_self">Darren Chen</a>

Darren Chen

November 16, 2023
Former international racing series driver Daniel Riccardo has just gotten back into a Formula 1 (F1) car again for the 2023 season after missing the first 10 races of the year. But his return may not prove to be any better for his F1 team, AlphaTauri, as reported in Sports Illustrated.

Riccardo formerly drove for the F1 Red Bull Racing team, a French based F1 team Rennault, and a British based F1 team McLaren. Since Riccardo’s leave from McLaren in 2022, he has had a break from F1, serving only as the Red Bull reserve driver, a driver that substitutes the main two drivers if they have an emergency. But his F1 return was helped by the Red Bull sister team, AlphaTauri, an Italian based F1 team. 

AlphaTauri picked up former Formula 2 and Formula Electric champion Nyck De Vries at the start of the season, having high expectations for such an experienced rookie. Ten races into the season, De Vries has struggled, having two Did Not Finish or DNFs and placing near last in all races, as shown in the F1 Driver standings.

So, Red Bull has dropped Nyck De Vries, unhappy with his performance, and replaced him with Daniel Riccardo. However, Riccardo’s driving for AlphaTauri may not improve the team’s standings in the season’s results for the Constructors Championship, and here is why.

Since the start of the season, AlphaTauri has been one of the slowest cars out of 20, being last in the Constructors Championship, scoring only 3 points in the season, compared to Red Bull’s dominant 540, as shown in the F1 Constructors Championship standings. So why is AlphaTauri so slow compared to Red Bull?

First we have to look at the income the teams are getting. Since the previous 2022 season, AlphaTauri has been struggling, scoring little to no points per race. This placed their team 9th out of 10 in the Constructors Championship. The bigger and leading teams that are scoring more points, such as Red Bull, Ferrari, and Mercedes, get more money from the Federation Internationale de L’Automobile (FIA), the governing body of F1, to spend on their development for next year’s car.

From the 2022 season, Red Bull was paid around $100 million dollars, compared to AlphaTauri’s measly $50 million, as shown in the F1 prize money distribution. Now, this plays a big part, as AlphaTauri has less money to spend, or they need to attract new sponsors, to pay for development and parts for their car in the 2023 season. Income per-team is one of the reasons why AlphaTauri is struggling in F1 in the 2023 Constructors Championship.

Now, not only is money a big part in the success of an F1 team, the parts they have to use for the car also plays a big role. Since AlphaTauri is a smaller F1 team, not being a car manufacturer like Mercedes or Ferrari, making or buying parts may prove to be more difficult than for most other teams. For example, the Haas F1 team uses the latest parts from other F1 team Ferrari, as stated by Haas team principal. Since AlphaTauri does not have this sort of agreement, they have to manufacture some of their own parts, because they do not have this sort of deal with Red Bull

Now, considering that Riccardo is far more experienced, with 8 Grand Prix victories and 32 podiums, he may perform better than De Vries. But it is without a doubt that AlphaTauri’s car is too slow for any good results. So unless AlphaTauri brings major upgrades to their 2023 car, Riccardo’s return may not have any big impact on their Constructors Championship standing.