Will Daniel Ricciardo take De Vries’ seat at AlphaTauri after the Spanish GP?

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Photo credit: Scuderia AlphaTauri

With the fifth race of the 2023 season completed, Nyck De Vries is far from his points-scoring performance in his unexpected F1 debut with Williams last year at Monza, which secured him a seat in Formula 1. The Dutch rookie still hasn’t scored any points and has had three crashes across the last two events.

Being outperformed by 4 places in the drivers’ championship by his team-mate Yuki Tsunoda, De Vries feels the pressure to deliver a race that lives up to the expectations of the team.

The Dutcher driver has had one of the most underwhelming rookie debuts we have seen in a while and people had already started questioning whether the former Formula 2 and Formula E champion could exit Formula 1.

On Thursday, multiple sources reported that Red Bull’s third driver Daniel Ricciardo had gone to AlphaTauri’s base in Faenza, Italy for a seat fitting of the AT04. Sources state that Nyck De Vries was given an ultimatum by Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko until the Spanish Grand Prix to improve his performance on the grid, which is the three races from now.

The Red Bull programme is known for its ruthless nature, having previously dropped drivers such as Daniil Kvyat, Jean-Eric Vergne and Sébastien Buemi from their roster. This makes their recent decision to give De Vries an ultimatum after only 5 races with the team unsurprising, although potentially still harsh.

Photo credit: @ausgp

Daniel Ricciardo’s seat fitting comes as a surprise especially because the departing team boss Franz Tost has stated that AlphaTauri “will primarily be focused on the young drivers because that’s within our capacity.”

However, the team is not a stranger to Daniel Ricciardo. Previously, the man born in Perth drove for Toro Rosso (now AlphaTauri) from 2012 to 2013, after which he was moved up to Red Bull where he stayed for five years. Drivers employed by Red Bull Racing are traditionally subject to contracts that give the company the option to switch them between their two teams, which may be the case for Daniel Ricciardo this season.

The Australian driver is set to take the wheel of Red Bull’s RB19 at Silverstone this summer, following the British Grand Prix to do a tyre test. However, if Nyck De Vries fails to improve his performance in the upcoming triple-header, the 33-year-old could be driving an F1 car much sooner than expected.