Is Nyck de Vries Red Bull's next victim? Daniel Ricciardo would most certainly hope so and will most likely find out during the 2023 season. If he already hasn't...
Everyone has been expecting Nyck de Vries to be the diamond of the season. His excellent performance in Formula 2 and Formula E, as well as his F1 debut at the 2022 Italian Grand Prix, definitely helped the Dutchman snatch that seat at AlphaTauri and pro-created the aura of success around him.
It is not a secret that the start of the season has not been kind to de Vries. His performance over the first five races was rather disappointing, as he hasn't scored a single point yet. Many would argue that the car the team from Faenza has built isn't helping the rookie to progress through the grid, but the things aren't looking the same at the other side of the garage.
Yuki Tsunoda has proved to be a suitable leader for the Italian team, and rightfully so. He has scored the team's only two points and hasn't finished below P11 in the first races, as well as outqualified his teammate in four out of five.
Red Bull is not a family you would want to fail in
De Vries would possibly be more than safe in a different "family" and the media wouldn't be having conversations regarding this matter. But Red Bull (and AlphaTauri in extend) are a team that does no favours and has no sympathy to their drivers.
Helmut Marko and Christian Horner have built a strong and sometimes cruel way of behaving towards their drivers, often resulting in them being replaced mid-season if the pilot's performance is not the "required". Now, that exact behaviour is what Nyck de Vries and his managing team are most likely afraid of. Or simply put, the reason the talks around the paddock cannot be shushed.
Ricciardo strikes back
Along with Red Bull's tactics, there is another issue that should possibly put de Vries' fruitless -so far- career at risk. It has emerged this morning that Daniel Ricciardo has completed a seat fitting over at AlphaTauri. And that sounds very Red Bull-y. Take that last one as you wish.
It is known that Ricciardo rekindled his relationship with Red Bull and frankly, he is looking happier than ever. Travelling with the team, participating in all kinds of celebrations and activities -apart from the racing kind- without having a guillotine hanging above his head. The guillotine is now hanging above a certain Dutchman's head instead, and it is the Aussie who will benefit off the "beheading".
Some media outlets report that de Vries has been given some kind of deadline to completely alter his way of driving for the better, and bring some strong results to the team before the Spanish Grand Prix. Red Bull should know by now that this tactic never worked, and probably never will. The extra amount of pressure that the driver is being put under is unnecessary and -most would agree- definitely not helpful. Surely, a rookie would want to be helped to improve, and not given cruel deadlines. But that is only the writer's opinion. After all, we are not Helmut Marko.
Other outlets have already hastened to deny every bit of this mid-season replacement, despite various reports saying otherwise. According to ESPN, "Daniel Ricciardo is not being lined up to replace underperforming Nyck de Vries at AlphaTauri at present." In fact, sources close to Ricciardo even denied that the Aussie visited Faenza at any point this past week. Either way, the Spanish Grand Prix is only three races away and we -as well as de Vries and Ricciardo- will know sooner or later.