Already enduring a terrible start to his F1 2023 season, Nyck De Vries has been dealt another blow with rumours Daniel Ricciardo could replace him at Alpha Tauri. The motorsport media cycle has amplified Ricciardo’s seat fitting at Alpha Tauri HQ, making De Vries’ position in F1 seem all the more vulnerable.
Red Bull is known to be ruthless when deciding their drivers, removing those who have underperformed, such as Brendon Hartley (what a throwback), Alexander Albon and Daniil Kvyat, with the same fate looming over Nyck De Vries.
Nyck De Vries’ 2023
After the 2022 Italian Grand Prix, finishing in a stunning 9th place, the Dutchman came into F1 with high expectations, many expecting him to be a solid rookie. De Vries also entered F1 with a strong reputation as an F2 and Formula E champion whilst working with Mercedes as a test & reserve driver.
However, his teammate Tsuonda has out-qualified him in 4 out of 5 races in 2023. Not only has he found himself off the pace but also in multiple incidents, including a collision with his teammate during the Saturday sprint at the Baku GP. To rub salt in his wound, Yuki Tsunoda has scored 100% of Alpha Tauri’s points this season, establishing himself race by race as the number one driver in the team.
Helmut Marko, a senior figure within the Red Bull team, who isn’t known for his patience with underperforming young drivers, has reportedly given De Vries a three-race deadline to keep his seat. This is tremendous pressure for Nyck De Vries to deal with on top of his unusual lack of performance.
Media Speculation About Daniel RicciardoEmbed from Getty Images
As if the pressure from Marko wasn’t enough, the media has created a frenzy around Daniel Ricciardo, who was at Alpha Tauri HQ for a seat fitting. Ricciardo’s struggles at McLaren left him without a drive in 2023, rescued and taken back under the wing of his former team at Red Bull.
Team Principal Christian Horner stated about Ricciardo:
“I’ve spoken to Daniel a little bit, but I don’t recognise him as the same driver he was when he was with us.”
Most fans of the incredibly likeable driver have resigned themselves to the fact he may never return to the grid. However, could he now be back sooner than we think? According to Motorsport.com, Red Bull has reported that Daniel has found his missing form in the simulator, only fuelling rumours he will replace Nyck De Vries.
Will Ricciardo actually replace Nyck De Vries?Embed from Getty Images
Ricciardo has been at the Alpha Tauri factory for a seat fitting, but it is mandatory due to his agreement with Red Bull as a third driver.
Reports today have also suggested that Alpha Tauri Team Principal has vetoed Marko’s desire to see Ricciardo back in the seat. Franz Tost, who will leave his role at Alpha Tauri this year, defended younger drivers and De Vries stating they need at least “three years” of experience to settle into F1.
However, will Tost’s opinions matter when he steps down as Team Principal? Will his replacement, Ferrari’s Laurent Mekies, have a different philosophy concerning their driver lineup?
Who else could take the 2nd Alpha Tauri seat?=Embed from Getty Images
Red Bull has always favoured emerging talent, with young drivers ready to replace Nyck De Vries. Ayumu Iwasa is impressive in F2, currently 3rd in the standings, but displaying incredible speed & racecraft that make him an attractive candidate for Red Bull.
Alternatively, Red Bull junior Liam Lawson, formerly of F2, now competing in the Super Formula Championship, is also achieving positive results. It is challenging to decide which is the preferred driver, but one thing is for sure. Daniel Ricciardo is not a certainty if Nyck De Vries is ousted.
Recency bias informs opinions in F1. If De Vries improves his results in the next few races, this conversation may be just another flurry of media speculation. However, if he does not, Red Bull may not look towards the past and instead to the future.
Favouring young stars such as Iwasa and Lawson will bolster their already robust driver lineup and dominance in this era of Formula 1. Unfortunately, harking back to the past and giving Ricciardo a second chance doesn’t quite feel like Red Bull’s style.
Do you think Nyck De Vries deserves a full season in the Alpha Tauri? Or do you have someone better in mind as a replacement? Let us know in the comments below!