AlphaTauri CEO Peter Bayer has hinted that Daniel Ricciardo remains a primary contender for a 2024 seat with the team, despite his Formula 1 comeback being curtailed by injury.
Ricciardo, who was dropped by McLaren at the end of 2022, replaced the ousted Nyck de Vries at AlphaTauri earlier this year to embark upon a full-time return to F1.
Bayer, who arrived from the FIA earlier this year, previously outlined that the Faenza side will aim to retain a line-up that consists of the ideal blend of experience and youth.
He has now doubled down on those comments, insisting that AlphaTauri will continue to serve its purpose of nurturing drivers for the senior Red Bull side whilst aiming to be as competitive as possible.
Bayer reveals that AlphaTauri has already reaped the benefits that the seasoned experience of Ricciardo has provided since his mid-season arrival from the sidelines.
“My belief is that… obviously, we cannot only develop young drivers – we also have to be competitive,” Bayer told Planet F1.
“I think, to be competitive nowadays, you need… in order to fulfil both cars, you need to have one experienced driver and one young one. That’s really what I’m trying to achieve, you know, to have an experienced one and a young one.
“Because then the young one will learn more from the experienced one, the experienced one will help us and, for example, Daniel helped us tremendously on setting up the car.
“So whilst we give feedback to a young driver, the experienced one gives us feedback, and I’m convinced you need to have those two.”
Ricciardo’s attempts to build on a promising return following the summer break were thwarted by a crash in the early stages of FP3 at Zandvoort. The Australian sustained a break to a metacarpal on his left hand, ruling him out of F1 action indefinitely.
Red Bull reserve driver Liam Lawson has deputised in Ricciardo’s absence, reaching the chequered flag on debut in mixed conditions at the Dutch Grand Prix before narrowly missing out on points in Monza.
Bayer asserts that the Kiwi racer has already heavily impressed in his pair of outings, noting his exemplary ability to digest information and translate it to the track.
“Liam has been amazing, honestly,” Bayer added.
“What he did is, I think… I have a huge amount of respect for him and his achievements here in the paddock. Zandvoort was probably the worst possible baptism that you can possibly have, you know?
“I mean, raining, the track in Zandvoort was wet then dry, right? It was everything that you possibly would not wish for. Still, he did a very good job.
“Honestly, what I really like about Liam is how professionally he’s approaching the task and he’s very calm in the car. He will get feedback from the engineers and, lap after lap, he will improve. It’s very impressive, really.”
Lawson remains in contention for a permanent 2024 AlphaTauri race seat, with the Red Bull-affiliated team yet to confirm either of its drivers for next season.