Renault driver Daniel Ricciardo doesn’t believe Red Bull were “unfair” in replacing Pierre Gasly with Alexander Albon mid-season, insisting they had to do something and that’s just how things are at the team.
Ricciardo’s departure from Red Bull last year saw Gasly promoted to take up the Australian’s vacant seat alongside Max Verstappen, but Gasly’s results have been disappointing, with the Frenchman having scored just a third of what Verstappen has achieved in the opening 12 races.
That led to Red Bull swapping him for Toro Rosso rookie Albon for this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix.
Ricciardo understands Red Bull’s reasoning and whilst he sympathises with Gasly, he agrees that something had to be done when Verstappen has proven the car is capable of race wins and podium finishes.
“I don’t think it is unfair,” said Ricciardo. “They had to do something.
“Nothing against Pierre. I like Pierre as a person. I am not happy to see him go back to Toro Rosso, but the reality is that Red Bull did give him six months and I don’t think there was that much sign of progression or momentum.
“As a Red Bull driver I’ve experienced it, you know in the program that this is how they are. It is no surprise that they are expecting this from you and if it doesn’t happen then they will move on. I don’t want to say it was unexpected and I’m sure Pierre had some suspicions that maybe something could change. So it is just the reality of their program.
“It is shame for him but Red Bull had to do something. So now it is Albon with an opportunity. We will see how that goes.”
Ricciardo believes Gasly could get a second chance if he, like Daniil Kvyat, can prove his talent once again at Toro Rosso and make a case for reversing the call to demote him.
“Kvyat surprised a few people going back and finding a bit of a second wind. So maybe Pierre will have that,” he added.
“With young drivers it is tough being in this position at such a young age. Not many have been able to do it. Max is one. But not many have come in so young and have been able to hold such a high level. There is lot of pressure, and they are still young with life. So it is not easy. Maybe coming back now he grows a bit and has a second wind.”
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