Daniel Ricciardo is in the running for a seat with AlphaTauri in 2024.
Although team principal Franz Tost is leaving at the end of this year, new CEO Peter Bayer has confirmed it will be his decision – in tandem with the Red Bull hierarchy of Christian Horner and Helmut Marko – as to who will drive for the team in 2024.
There are currently a number of junior drivers on the books, with Red Bull/AlphaTauri reserve Liam Lawson leading the chase ahead of F2 incumbents Ayuma Iwasa, Isack Hadjar, Dennis Haugar, Jak Crawford, Zane Maloney, and Enzo Fittipaldi.
Former Red Bull driver Ricciardo, currently serving as the team's third driver this season, has been mentioned as a possibility given his apparent desire to return to F1 full-time next year.
But given Ricciardo celebrates his 34th birthday today (Sat), such a move would go against AlphaTauri's philosophy of promoting and nurturing young drivers.
Sitting alongside Bayer in his fellow Austrian's first media appearance since taking up the CEO position on June 1, Tost was directly asked whether Ricciardo was under consideration for 2024.
“The philosophy is quite clear – performance decides,” replied Tost.
“Of course, the team philosophy is to educate young drivers but if young drivers are not currently there…
“Some good young drivers are coming – Iwasa is doing a good job; Hadjar is doing a good job, but it's simply a little bit too early for them. I see them later in our team.
“If the time is too early then maybe we have to find another solution, but this has not been discussed so far.”
New Zealander Lawson, after two seasons in F2, is this year currently competing in Japan's Super Formula in which he has won two of the five races to lie second in the standings.
Offering his updated opinion on Lawson, Tost added: “Liam did a good job when he drove for us last year in Abu Dhabi (in the young driver test), and he is currently doing a good job in Japan because it's quite a tough championship over there.
“As I said before, it's a performance question. We have to find out, we have to see which driver is first of all available, has matured enough, is educated enough, and is ready to go for a Formula 1 car.
“This we will see. Currently, nothing has been decided.”
Horner also had the opportunity to knock back the possibility of Ricciardo joining AlphaTauri but declined when asked by Speedcafe.
“Well, it's still very early days for next year,” said Horner.
Referencing the upcoming Pirelli tyre test, he added: “Daniel is under contract for this year, he's going to be driving our car for the first time after the British Grand Prix.
“He's obviously a world-class driver. He's won seven grands prix in his career to date (eight, seven with Red Bull).
“The first thing would be to see how he performs and where his motivation is.
“From there, it's a question for AlphaTauri as to their choices for the following season.”