If Red Bull did need to pull the plug on Nyck de Vries at AlphaTauri, then Helmut Marko says Daniel Ricciardo is not an option to replace the struggling Dutchman.
De Vries arrived on the Formula 1 grid full-time carrying great momentum, his points-scoring debut outing at the 2022 Italian GP with Williams turning heads, with Red Bull the ones that went on to secure his signature and place him at sister team AlphaTauri.
It is safe to say said momentum is now gone though, with De Vries having suffered a rather torrid start to the F1 2023 campaign, only he and fellow rookie at Williams Logan Sargeant yet to put a point on the board.
Another underwhelming display for De Vries in Miami, where he hit McLaren’s Lando Norris at the start and ultimately finished P18, has only further increased the speculation that his future is in serious doubt.
And while Marko suggested that the axe will not be wielded imminently, it is certainly looming for De Vries.
“Nothing will happen in the next three races,” Marko confirmed to F1-Insider.com.
“We have spoken to De Vries and he is of the same opinion as we are: He has to improve. The gap to team-mate Yuki Tsunoda, who is doing a great job, is too big.
“To use footballer’s language: Nick got the yellow card, but not the red one yet. If he improves, a change of driver will not be an issue.”
Red Bull would be wise though to start considering their options, since at this stage De Vries is showing little sign of finding the magic formula for a sudden improvement in performance.
And the driver who instantly comes to mind when thinking of potential De Vries replacements is Daniel Ricciardo, who is currently spending F1 2023 as Red Bull’s third driver.
Marko though moved to confirm that Ricciardo does not factor into this equation.
Instead, Red Bull would look to their crop of junior drivers to fill the potential void, Marko namedropping their current Super Formula star Liam Lawson, as well as Ayumu Iwasa who is currently P3 in the Formula 2 standings.
“If the worst came to the worst, we would fall back on our pool of young talent,” said Marko. “We are talking specifically about Liam Lawson and Ayumu Iwasa. Ricciardo is not an issue.”
Marko also affirmed that former Haas driver and current Mercedes reserve Mick Schumacher “does not feature in our plans”.
De Vries’ next opportunity to show Red Bull that he is worth keeping around will come at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, with the race weekend at Imola taking place from May 19-21.
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