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Nyck de Vries has had a very difficult start to his first Formula 1 season with Alpha Tauri and his seat is under danger for the rest of the season.
The 28-year-old rookie made his debut last year at Monza, when he was brought on to replace an ill Alex Albon at Williams. He surprised everyone by finishing ninth on debut and that put him in the frame to replace the departing Pierre Gasly at Alpha Tauri. He eventually earned the seat and departed the Formula E paddock, where he spent three seasons with Mercedes and won the 2020-21 championship.
His season so far has been mediocre to say the least. Consistently beaten by his teammate, Yuki Tsunoda, he has so far scored a best finish of twelfth, in Monaco. That was the first of two occasions where he beat the Japanese driver, the second coming in Austria.
What de Vries has to say
De Vries spoke to RacingNews365.com during the weekend at Silverstone, where he finished seventeenth, about his situation at Alpha Tauri:
I am happy where I am, I still feel good within the team, I am loving what I’m doing. I’m giving my best and that’s all I can do, nothing else to say.
My approach hasn’t changed and my commitment work ethic hasn’t changed, so we just need to the best we can.
His performances so far have been publicly criticised by Helmut Marko, the advisor to both of Red Bull’s Formula 1 teams. As a result, it is apparent that Alpha Tauri are looking for a replacement, that could even arrive halfway through the season. Rumours are mentioning that the Belgian Grand Prix -the last race before the summer break- could be his last one at the team.
With Alpha Tauri serving as the junior team for Red Bull throughout its existence, one would think that de Vries’ replacement would come from its Junior Team. However, many of its twelve drivers are currently either too young or not performing well enough to earn an F1 seat. Three drivers are currently speculated for the seat; Daniel Ricciardo, Liam Lawson and Alex Palou.
The possible replacements for de Vries
- Daniel Ricciardo: The eight-time race winner left McLaren last year after a disappointing array of results and joined Red Bull as its reserve driver. The beloved Australian drove for the Faenza squad –known as Toro Rosso at the time– for two seasons before getting promoted to Red Bull ahead of 2014. With rumours circulating around Sergio Perez as well, a return to Alpha Tauri could be a good way for Ricciardo to be assessed and prepared ahead of a potential return to the main squad.
- Liam Lawson: The Kiwi undoubtedly is the most F1-ready driver in the ranks of the Red Bull Junior Team. He was the runner-up in the 2021 DTM championship, losing the championship in cruel fashion at the last race, before going on to a third-place finish in Formula 2 last year. The 21-year-old is currently racing in Japan, as he lies second in the Super Formula standings, with two wins to his name in his first five races.
- Alex Palou: The most left-field of the three options -but one mentioned by Marko- is the Spanish IndyCar driver. He won his first IndyCar championship in 2021 and is likely to add his second this year. He currently is a member of McLaren, serving as its test and reserve driver, and he would probably not be available for a move to Formula 1 prior to September 10th, when the IndyCar season concludes.
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