Recent news about Daniel Ricciardo’s visit to AlphaTauri’s Formula 1 factory in Italy has ignited rumors about the possibility of him replacing rookie Nyck de Vries.
However, sources close to the situation maintain that this visit was just a part of Ricciardo’s arrangement with Red Bull this year, as a reserve driver for both Red Bull and AlphaTauri.
Thus, a seat fitting becomes a necessity.
Despite de Vries’ rough start to his F1 career, it is not certain that Ricciardo’s presence indicates an impending driver change.
Although Red Bull claims Ricciardo has rediscovered his former glory in their simulator, there are no guarantees that he’d be the first choice should AlphaTauri decide to make a change.
De Vries’ performance so far
Nyck de Vries has had a challenging rookie season with AlphaTauri, without scoring a single point and being involved in numerous incidents.
His best results so far have been 14th place finishes in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, while crashing out in Australia and Baku, and coming in 18th in Miami after colliding with Lando Norris on the opening lap.
Team principal Franz Tost has shown faith in de Vries, stating that it’s normal for a rookie to experience a fair share of incidents as part of the learning process.
He cited the example of Sebastian Vettel, who often returned to the pits without a front nose during his initial races. Tost believes that it’s essential to give drivers some leeway to explore their limits.
Potential replacement candidates
Should de Vries fail to deliver the expected improvement, it’s not guaranteed that Ricciardo would be first in line to replace him.
Red Bull is more likely to consider other young talents from its junior roster. Liam Lawson, who has been impressing in Super Formula this year, would be a logical choice.
Another option could be F2 driver Ayumu Iwasa, who has two race victories under his belt despite a recent disappointing weekend in Baku.
As the F1 calendar moves to tracks de Vries is familiar with, it will be crucial for him to showcase his potential at Imola, Monaco, and Barcelona.
De Vries looking forward to upcoming races
De Vries himself is optimistic about his chances at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, expecting a significant performance upgrade from the team.
He stated, “We are bringing some kind of bigger update, so yeah, we’re kind of excited for that weekend, to see if we can make a step up. And it’s obviously a normal weekend, which also helps.”
In my opinion, it’s still too early to predict if Ricciardo will replace de Vries based on performance alone.
While de Vries has struggled so far, rookies often need time to adjust to the high-pressure environment of F1. It’s also essential to consider how much de Vries is contributing to the team’s overall development and if he’s useful in other aspects besides racing.
With a few more races under his belt at familiar tracks, we might see a turnaround in his performance.
However, if de Vries fails to prove his worth both on and off the track, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Red Bull make a change, whether it’s Ricciardo or another promising young talent.