Red Bull technical advisor Helmut Marko is far from happy with the performance of Nyck de Vries in the first five races of the season and has reportedly allowed the driver time till the Canadian Grand Prix to show improvement.
Failure to do so will result in the Dutchman losing his spot at AlphaTauri, with Marko already earmarking the likes of Liam Lawson or Ayumu Iwasa the frontrunners to take his position.
Nyck showed a glimpse of his potential during the 2022 Italian Grand Prix which prompted a move for his services, but he has failed to settle down since landing a full-time role.
Out of six qualifying and race events, Nyck has only managed to finish ahead of teammate Yuki Tsunoda on one occasion.
This is cause for concern as far as AlphaTauri is concerned, but Marko is prepared to allow him some more time to prove that hiring him was not a mistake on their part.
“Nothing will happen in the next three races,” Marko said.
“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.”
Daniel Ricciardo recently made a visit to the AlphaTauri factory which prompted speculation that the team may be interested in his services, but Marko has all but ruled out that possibility.
Instead, he has suggested that the team is focusing on young drivers Liam Lawson and Ayumu Iwasa as potential alternatives should Nyck fail to show a marked improvement.
“It’s not about Ricciardo,” Marko said.
“It’s specifically about Liam Lawson and Ayumu Iwasa, Ricciardo is not an issue.”
While Lawson finished the 2022 F2 championship in third position, seven points off the eventual winner, Iwasa is enjoying a similarly positive run in the 2023 edition.
If Iwasa is indeed promoted to a full-time position in place of Nyck, AlphaTauri could be in line for its first all-Japanese driver pairing. The last time any team in F1 had both Japanese drivers in its team was Super Aguri in 2006, who were led by Takuma Sato and Yuji Ide.