The smiliest Australian ever to grace the grid is set to come back to Formula 1, as Red Bull’s second team, AlphaTauri, is dropping Nyck de Vries in favour of Daniel Ricciardo midway through the current season.

Dutch driver De Vries has endured an arduous first season in F1, and is yet to score any points after 10 races. With AlphaTauri now firmly at the bottom of the constructors’ standings, the Faenza-based team has decided to replace the rookie with Ricciardo for the remainder of the season.

An eight-time Grand Prix winner, Ricciardo lost his F1 seat with McLaren to his younger compatriot, Oscar Piastri at the end of a trying 2022 season, but he is set to return to racing at the pinnacle of motorsport with his former team. Ricciardo spent two seasons with AlphaTauri in 2012 and 2013 when they went by Toro Rosso, before his promotion to Red Bull ahead of 2014.

The Australian went on to claim seven victories with Red Bull, including a very memorable victory at the Monaco GP in 2018. A two season spell with Renault followed thereafter before his move to McLaren in 2021.

Ricciardo will make his return to racing at the Hungaroring for the Hungarian GP on Sunday, July 23, the same circuit of his second victory in F1 at the 2014 Hungarian GP.

“I’m very pleased to welcome Daniel back into the team,” commented AlphaTauri Team Principal Franz Tost, “there’s no doubt about his driving skills, and he already knows many of us, so his integration will be easy and straightforward. The team will also profit a lot from his experience, as he is an eight-time Formula 1 Grand Prix winner.”

Ricciardo was already in action at Silverstone on Tuesday, driving Red Bull’s RB19 car in a Pirelli tyre test, in which he must have impressed, as news of his return to F1 broke shortly thereafter. “I am stoked to be back on track with the Red Bull family!” he said.

Featured image: A jovial Danial Ricciardo enjoying the sweet taste of victory at the 2018 Monaco Grand Prix