Christian Horner says there are no current plans to replace Nyck de Vries at AlphaTauri, although Ted Kravitz has heard rumours otherwise…
The Dutch driver has come under increased scrutiny and pressure as the season has progressed, due to a lack of performance and multiple mistakes since the rookie made his full-time debut in Bahrain back in March.
With drivers like Liam Lawson and Daniel Ricciardo waiting in the wings for a shot to drive for a Red Bull-owned team, rumour has abounded that De Vries is on borrowed time at AlphaTauri.
Ted Kravitz: The rumour is that it’s four races for Nyck de Vries to prove himself
Speaking on his Ted’s Notebook segment after the qualifying hour in Austria on Friday, Sky F1’s pit-lane reporter Ted Kravitz said he had heard a four-race ultimatum had been given to the former Formula E Champion to pull up his socks and find performance, or risk being replaced.
“Nyck de Vries, we talk about ‘Drive to Survive’,” Kravitz said.
“He really is driving to survive. All the bosses will say about this… the rumour that has come out of the Dutch press that Nyck has been told that he’s got the next four races on circuits he knows – here (Austria), Silverstone, Hungary, and Spa to really transform his season.
“Otherwise, he’s out, they’re going to put Liam Lawson in – that’s the rumour that’s coming from the Dutch press.
“Franz Tost was asked directly about this in the pen, and he said ‘it is up to Nyck to make the story go away’.
“If Nyck performs, then this story will go away and he will not be under threat – he will keep the seat for the rest of the season.
“If Nyck does not perform, he wouldn’t continue… he wouldn’t finish the thought. He said Nyck needs to perform. The driver decides for himself, Nyck decides for himself, Franz said.
“If he’s slow, then he is in trouble. If he’s quick, and has performance, then he stays.”
Christian Horner: No plans to replace Nyck de Vries
At Red Bull, senior management are keeping quiet about the possibility of replacing the Dutch driver, although motorsport advisor Helmut Marko has made some barbed comments through the media.
The Austrian has publicly said Red Bull aren’t happy with his performance level, and even said that Christian Horner may have been right to argue against the hiring of De Vries – Horner and Marko having disagreed over the signing, with Marko having been in favour.
But Horner was backing the rookie to bounce back as he spoke to Sky F1 after qualifying, a session in which De Vries qualified in 20th place.
“There’s no plan to replace Nyck de Vries at the moment,” he stated, resolutely.
But, intriguingly, Horner then mentioned the very drivers that are waiting for their opportunity to be given a drive, as he revealed his eagerness to see what the returning Daniel Ricciardo can do at the wheel of the RB19 when he tests for Red Bull after the British Grand Prix.
“You’ve got to give these guys a bit of time and, of course, we’ve got a junior programme,” he said.
“You know, we’ve got Daniel in the stable as well. He’s going to be driving the car, testing the Red Bull car after the Silverstone race.
“So it’ll be great to see where he’s at, where his confidence is at and what he does.”
As for De Vries himself, he has acknowledged the pressure he is under and has stated that he believes himself to not be doing a sufficient job. On Thursday, asked about Marko’s comments, he said: “I think Dr. Marko would appreciate if I proved him wrong on track. That’s all I kind of feel about it and is within my control. So that’s it.”