Nyck de Vries, according to several reports, has been given an ultimatum by Red Bull consultant Dr. Helmut Marko to up his game at AlphaTauri or face the axe.
De Vries, replaced Pierre Gasly – now an Alpine driver – at AlphaTauri in 2023, and the move follows the former’s impressive Formula 1 debut at the 2022 Italian Grand Prix, when he was drafted to replace Alex Albon at Williams, who had to undergo surgery for a case appendicitis.
De Vries qualified the Williams 13th, but benefited from grid penalties to other driver to start the race from eighth, finishing a respectable ninth after a mature drive making everyone believe the former Formula 2 and Formula E Champion deserved a crack in top flight.
AlphaTauri grabbed their chance and signed the Dutchman to race alongside Yuki Tsunoda in 2023, but all the promise De Vries showed in Monza last year is yet to be seen so far this season as he has been crash prone, earning him two DNF’s in Australia and Azerbaijan. His best qualifying position is 15th and has not scored any points yet, his highest finishing position being 14th in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.
With five races completed in 2023, Dr. Helmut Marko’s patience with the troubled AlphaTauri driver seems to be running out, and reports claim an ultimatum has been given to the former Mercedes reserve driver to improve by June the latest when the Spanish Grand Prix takes place, or he walks.
And Marko doesn’t seem to be short of alternatives to replace De Vries, with Daniel Ricciardo lurking in the background as a Red Bull third driver following his ousting from McLaren last year, Christian Horner even claiming he is ten minutes away from being ready to drive an F1 car.
Ricciardo’s ticket back to the grid?
Ricciardo is also reported to have had a seat fitting at AlphaTauri just in case he needed to replace any of the team’s drivers on an urgent basis, but this fact is now fueling the rumors that he may end up replacing De Vries.
Ricciardo is set to driver Red Bull’s 2023 F1 car, the RB19 following the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, where he will be on driving duties for a Pirelli test.
“I’ve been in the simulator, but I will drive the RB19 in July after the Silverstone race – I’m getting a Pirelli test,” Ricciardo told ESPN.
“Then maybe I’ll get another one after Monza as well in September. A couple of months away [and] I’ll get to feel what it’s like,” he added.
“I’m certainly excited to drive a fast car, but also a car that maybe still feels familiar for me – it does a little bit in the sim. But I’m just excited to drive again and to just try to remind a team obviously I once had a lot of success with that I can still turn a fast lap,” the former McLaren driver explained.
“I’m definitely still in like a really good place – I’m very happy with this,” he added of his current role at Red Bull.
“Does it mean that I’m happy doing this for the next two or three years? Probably not. But I think for this year it’s certainly a good thing for me.
“I do want to get back on the grid next year. I do feel like there’s certainly some unfinished business. I’m staying like in the loop and staying prepared and whatever,” Ricciardo insisted.
While Ricciardo seems to be the plug and play choice for AlphaTauri should De Vries be sacked, other reports have claimed that it is in fact Red Bull junior Liam Lawson, currently racing in Japanese Super Formula, who will be given the nod to drive alongside Tsunoda for the rest of the season.