Having initially been told he would not be a reserve driver for AlphaTauri, Daniel Ricciardo was reportedly in Faenza for a seat fit of the AT04.
After five races, De Vries has so far failed to match the performance of his Monza debut last season that earned him a seat in Formula 1.
The Dutchman is last in the standings with only Logan Sargeant the other driver yet to have scored a point and already there are question marks over his future.
Red Bull after all are a team known for being ruthless when it comes to sacking or demoting drivers if their performances are not up to scratch.
And De Vries will take little comfort from a report from the Italian edition of Motorsport.com claiming that Ricciardo was at the AlphaTauri base in Faenza, Italy recently for a seat fit of the AT04.
A potential outing for Ricciardo in the AlphaTauri would go against what outgoing team boss Franz Tost suggested early in the season, though.
The Austrian said that while “theoretically” he could call on Ricciardo’s services, he would prefer a young driver to be given a chance instead.
“Theoretically yes,” he said to media including PlanetF1.com when asked if Ricciardo could be an AlphaTauri substitute this season, “practically, I don’t hope so because there are young drivers like Liam Lawson, like [Dennis] Hauger.
“I think we will primarily be focused on the young drivers because that’s within our capacity.”
But Ricciardo’s recent seat fit would suggest there has been a change in mindset as the Australian looks to get back on the grid from 2024.
Motorsport.com also claim that head of Red Bull’s driver development programme Helmut Marko has issued an ultimatum to De Vries: produce better results by the end of the Spanish Grand Prix or prepare to be replaced.
De Vries will also have sought little comfort from recent comments by Tost suggesting that the Dutchman, like all F1 drivers, was “under pressure.”
“Satisfied is perhaps a bit of an exaggeration,” Tost said of De Vries’ performances. “But I have always said that it is not easy for newcomers to Formula 1 – especially the first races.
“We go to Imola, Monaco and Barcelona now, where he has more experience with those circuits. If we can improve the car then Nyck will probably move further up.”
“We can’t forget that all the cars finished in Miami. If the top teams all finish, it will of course be difficult for us to score points.”
PlanetF1.com reached out to AlphaTauri to clarify if Ricciardo had visited for a seat fit but at time of publication have not heard back.