Red Bull advisor Dr Helmut Marko has ruled out an early return to Formula 1 for Daniel Ricciardo and Mick Schumacher, with the Austrian not set to use either driver should Nyck de Vries need replacing.
It’s been reported that De Vries has the upcoming triple-header to save his F1 career, with the Dutchman having endured a nightmare start to his rookie campaign.
The AlphaTauri driver has finished no higher than 14th in the opening five races this season, whilst he’s also made multiple driver errors.
De Vries was slammed after the Miami Grand Prix due to having hit Lando Norris at the opening corner of the race, hurting their afternoon.
What hasn’t helped De Vries is the incredible form of team-mate Yuki Tsunoda, who’s enjoyed an exceptional start to 2023.
Marko has taken notice of Tsunoda’s sublime start and admits that the gap between the Japanese driver and De Vries is “too big”; however, the Dutchman’s seat at AlphaTauri isn’t at risk for the time being.
“Nothing will happen in the next three races,” Marko told F1 Insider.
“We spoke to De Vries and he agrees with us: he needs to improve.
“The distance to teammate Yuki Tsunoda, who is doing a great job, is too big. To use footballer jargon, Nick got the yellow card, but not the red yet. If he improves, a driver change will not be an issue.”
Should De Vries continue to struggle then Red Bull will replace him, with Marko revealing that the Austrians will turn to their junior set-up to find a suitable replacement.
This rules a return out for Ricciardo, with Super Formula driver Liam Lawson or Formula 2 driver Ayumu Iwasa being the preferred options.
“If the worst came to the worst, we would fall back on our pool of young talent,” Marko added. “It’s specifically about Liam Lawson and Ayumu Iwasa.
“Ricciardo is not an issue.”
Schumacher is also not in the running to replace De Vries, despite having been a contender for his AlphaTauri seat last season.
Marko won’t be considering the German due to the fact that he is Mercedes’ reserve driver, with Toto Wolff being “responsible for him”.
“He’s a Mercedes driver and he’s not in our plans,” Marko said. “Accordingly, [team principal] Toto Wolff is responsible for him.”