Helmut Marko, a key Red Bull figure, has given Nyck de Vries until the 2023 Canadian Grand Prix to improve otherwise he risks losing his seat at AlphaTauri to Liam Lawson or Ayumu Iwasa.
De Vries was signed to the AlphaTauri team after a strong performance in the 2022 Italian GP and in the wake of Pierre Gasly‘s departure to Alpine, but so far he has not managed to get to grips with the AT04.
The rookie has only managed to finish ahead of his teammate, Yuki Tsunoda, in one qualifying and race session out of six attempts, including the sprint weekend in Azerbaijan. But for now, De Vries still has some time left to prove his credentials to Marko and the hierarchy.
“Nothing will happen in the next three races,” Marko told the media. “We talked to De Vries and he is of the same opinion as us; he has to improve.
“The distance to teammate Yuki Tsunoda, who does a great job, is too large. To use footballing language, Nyck got the yellow card, but not the red one yet.”
As a result, De Vries is believed to have until the end of the 2023 Spanish GP, before F1 goes to Montreal, to prove himself otherwise he could find himself out of a seat in F1.
Who could replace De Vries at AlphaTauri?
Three potential candidates for the seat have been shouted around the F1 world. Young drivers Liam Lawson and Ayumu Iwasa, alongside the popular Daniel Ricciardo, who is currently a reserve driver for Red Bull.
But Marko, who oversees the development program for Red Bull‘s junior drivers, has already ruled the Australian driver out of contention for the AlphaTauri seat.
“It’s not about Ricciardo,” Marko said. “It’s specifically about Liam Lawson and Ayumu Iwasa, Ricciardo is not an issue.”
Lawson, who finished third in F2 in 2022, currently races in Super Formula in Japan sits seven points off the championship lead, and has already claimed a victory in the series.
Whilst Iwasa is having a similar season in F2. The Japanese driver has two victories to his name in 2023, and is also just seven points off the championship lead.
Should Marko promote Iwasa, AlphaTauri would give F1 its first Japanese driver pairing since Super Aguri in 2006 who had Takuma Sato and Yuji Ide as its drivers.