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We’re just 5 races into the Formula 1 season, but it’s never too early for rumors to start swirling about a potential mid-season driver swap. In this case, there were reports that AlphaTauri’s Nyck De Vries was being benched in favor of Red Bull reserve driver Daniel Ricciardo.
Multiple outlets reported that Ricciardo — who is scheduled to drive Red Bull’s dominant RB19 for a tire test in July — was spotted at the AlphaTauri factory for a seat fitting.
So, does that mean that Nyck De Vries should feel his seat at the team getting warmer?
Nope. At least that’s what ESPN’s Nate Saunders is reporting. He says that while upper management at Red Bull isn’t happy with the start to De Vries’ first full season in F1, Ricciardo isn’t being considered to replace him.
So, it sounds like he might be safe for the time being — at least from Ricciardo, who is itching to get back on the grid — but he’ll need to fix things in a hurry.
Nyck De Vries Has Been A Dissapointment At AlphaTauri
When Nyck De Vries made his F1 debut at Monza last year, eyebrows were firmly raised.
A points finish in a Williams? On debut? Damn, someone sign this guy.
And sign him they did. However, this year’s AlphaTauri is not last year’s Williams. Especially not at Monza, where the Williams performed at its best thanks to the customary minimal-downforce set-up.
I fell for this.
Before this season started, I made predictions for each team. For AlphaTauri I predicted De Vries would beat teammate Yuki Tsunoda in the drivers’ standings.
It takes a big man to admit when he’s wrong… but I’m not quite ready to do that.
I will say, I may have missed the mark a little bit, at least looking at the trajectory of this season so far.
Tsunoda has a 3-point lead over his rookie teammate. Now, making that up is far from insurmountable. However, the AT04 is slooooooooooow. De Vries is a great driver — he has F2 in 2019 and a Formula E championship in 2021 — but he is struggling with this car.
Tsudona is beating him soundly by other metrics too. By average starting position Tsunoda leads De Vries 13.4 to 17.4.
Average finish? Yuki averages just outside the points at 10.6 while De Vries is at 16.2.
Things can turn on a dime, especially if the team has upgrades in the work. While the long-term outlook for De Vries at AlphaTauri doesn’t look too rosy, it’s far too early to make a rash decision on the Dutchman’s F1 future this season.
Follow on Twitter: @Matt_Reigle