Damon Hill has scoffed at rumours linking Daniel Ricciardo to Nyck de Vries’ race seat as he doesn’t believe the Honey Badger would be “interested” in playing in F1’s midfield.
Five races into his AlphaTauri career and De Vries is a driver under pressure, the Dutchman involved in several crashes and all without a point on the board.
It has Helmut Marko proclaiming he’s on a “yellow card”, the Red Bull motorsport advisor adding to F1-Insider: “If the worst came to the worst, we would fall back on our pool of young talent.
“We are talking specifically about Liam Lawson and Ayumu Iwasa. Ricciardo is not an issue.”
Hill doesn’t believe that will come as disappointing news for the Aussie, after all he can’t see Ricciardo wanting to race for AlphaTauri.
“Well,” he told the Sky Sports F1 podcast, “they had a seat fit at AlphaTauri and so that’s set chins wagging.
“And realistically, what has Daniel Ricciardo got to gain by going up against either Nyck or Yuki Tsunoda in an AlphaTauri.
“He’s been there, he’s done that, he’s not after that. There’s nothing more to this than if there is a need for a reserve driver situation then he might jump in.
“But I can’t see him [doing it]. He’s already said that he’s not interested in doing a middling team, he only wants to be in a car that can win.”
As for De Vries, the 1996 World Champion believes the 28-year-old needs time to adjust to Formula 1 as this is his first full season in the sport.
While he doesn’t think the former Formula E champion is the next Ayrton Senna, he reckons he could yet prove to be a “very good” racing driver.
“He’s had a lot to deal with,” Hill said. “It’s quite different to being asked to jump in a car at Monza at very short notice where nobody’s expecting anything and you’re free to cope with whatever you got with.
“And he did a fantastic job and that’s why he got his second chance in F1, or first chance in F1.
“I think some of the races, he’s been to some of the circuits we’ve been to but not all of them – he hadn’t been to Miami and it was tricky conditions.
“It’s very competitive now. The spread is tiny. In qualifying, he’s under a lot of pressure, and when I started in F1, I looked a bit shaky as well when I first got my chance all of us.
“It just doesn’t stop, give you a chance to catch your breath.
“So that said, the ones who can cope with that and arrive in the sport and suddenly do something mind-blowing, like Max Verstappen, like the Michael Schumachers and the Lewis’s – they somehow stand out.
“And perhaps the fact that Nyck is is struggling a bit is normal. It doesn’t mean he won’t be a very good racing driver, but he might not be in the Ayrton Senna category.”