When one goes by statistics, Ricciardo is undoubtedly the more accomplished driver but Alpine decided to go with Gasly to make it in all French line-up.
When McLaren announced Oscar Piastri as their second driver for the 2023 season, many wondered what would be the future of the outgoing Daniel Ricciardo. The Australian has given fans the answer and alas, it is not pleasing to the ears. Ricciardo, one of the most loved drivers on the grid, will not be a part of the next Formula One season. There were talks of the Aussie going to Alpine to replace Fernando Alonso who will be in the green of Aston Martin next season. There was another in contention for the Alpine seat apart from Ricciardo, Pierre Gasly. When one goes by statistics, Ricciardo is undoubtedly the more accomplished driver but Alpine decided to go with Gasly to make it in all French line-up with Esteban Ocon for the French outfit.
Nationality, however, was not the deciding factor over who got the seat at Alpine. The decision really did baffle quite a number of fans. Although Ricciardo has had a horrid 2022 with McLaren, his skill level on the track is still quite high. The Aussie won the Italian Grand Prix at the temple of speed, Monza, last season which was seen as one of the best races of his career. He has also proven to be more reliable under pressure situations than Gasly. The Frenchman was a part of Red Bull Racing in 2019 but failed to remain at the team for a full season as he simply could not cope with the pressure. Ricciardo spent five years at the Milton-Keynes outfit and finished third in the driver’s championship twice.
The pressure at Alpine will not be as much as Red Bull, but it will certainly be more than that in AlphaTauri. Formerly called Renault, Alpine has been a highly successful constructor in the past and has a rich history. Fernando Alonso’s two world championships came with the French outfit in 2005 and 2006.
Team principal Otmar Szaufner has confirmed that the team held talks with Ricciardo’s camp before coming to a decision. They chose to go with Gasly as the Frenchman has a balanced mix of youth, pace and experience. Ricciardo was not blessed with the first anymore. “At the beginning [of the search for a driver] we did have discussions with a few drivers, including Daniel,” Szaufner said to the media during the Japanese GP weekend.
“[But] Pierre meets the criteria to a tee – he’s experienced, fast and young. So when it became evident Pierre was a possibility, we made our short-list even shorter.” In Gasly, Alpine believe they have the right candidiate but the Frenchman needs to keep his head in the game. His dreams of going back to Red Bull Racing might have hit a snag but with Alpine, Gasly can make much more of an impact on the driver’s championship than AlphaTauri. It will be interesting to see how he gets along with Esteban Ocon and how he performs with Alpine in 2023.