Despite Colton Herta’s potential move to AlphaTauri breaking down, Pierre Gasly could still be off to Alpine.
And it is now being reported that Nyck de Vries is waiting in the wings to swap the Mercedes fold for Red Bull as the Frenchman’s replacement.
Red Bull appear to have accepted Indy Car racer Herta will not be granted an FIA Super Licence to make the switch to Formula 1, so that deal appears to be off the cards.
It had originally been claimed that Herta’s availability for AlphaTauri was a condition upon which Gasly would be released from the final year of his contract in order to join Alpine following Fernando Alonso’s departure to Aston Martin for 2023.
However, Red Bull may yet let Gasly go – with De Vries said to now be first in line to replace him at AlphaTauri.
De Vries has long been linked with an F1 race seat but in recent times, more so at Williams – with whom he made his debut at the 2022 Italian Grand Prix when deputising for the unwell Alex Albon and impressed greatly by finishing P9.
It appears that performance also caught the eye of Red Bull adviser Helmut Marko who, according to De Telegraaf newspaper in De Vries’ homeland, has met up with the 27-year-old in Graz, Austria.
Auto Hebdo, meanwhile, go further and claim Marko and De Vries’ conflab was actually more than that for they “are said to have agreed on a move of [De Vries] to AlphaTauri next season, where he is expected to race alongside Yuki Tsunoda”.
"AUTOhebdo is able to confirm the information that de Vries and Helmut Marko have met in Graz, and they are said to have agreed on a move of the 27-year-old Dutchman to Alpha Tauri next season, where he is expected to race alongside Yuki Tsunoda." https://t.co/oAMnKITcbf
— tami. (@Vetteleclerc) September 17, 2022
How would Mercedes view Nyck de Vries joining the Red Bull camp?
It does beg the question of how Mercedes would feel about seeing a driver who has been immersed with them for three years, winning a Formula E World Championship, to up and leave for Red Bull.
Toto Wolff has said more than once he is extremely limited in what more he can to do help De Vries fulfil his F1 dream, for which he has been waiting since he won the Formula 2 title in 2019.
“I can’t really help him,” said the Mercedes head of motorsport after De Vries drove in FP1 for the Silver Arrows at the French Grand Prix in July.
“We can’t really tell any team to look at him and consider him because that would be felt as an interference and goes the contrary way.”
You get the impression Wolff would have been happy to see De Vries at Williams on a full-time basis, given they are an engine customer and ‘technical partner’ of Mercedes.
But AlphaTauri? You only have to think back a year to when Williams signed Alex Albon from the Red Bull set-up initially ‘on loan’, with Wolff clearly concerned about what Mercedes-related information might eventually filter back to Milton Keynes.
In the end, that was irrelevant as Albon is now with Williams for the long haul.
De Vries’ switch would be much more direct, though. What will Wolff think of that?
You can be sure that as soon as we at PlanetF1 find out, you will too!