However, while de Vries is facing some tough times in his rookie season, Ricciardo’s presence in Faenza does not mean a driver change is definitely on its way.
Instead, Ricciardo’s visit was nothing out of the ordinary. As part of his arrangement with Red Bull for this year, where will be reserve driver at some races, the Australian will also fulfil that role for AlphaTauri, so a seat fitting is a necessity.
Ricciardo has yet to drive an F1 car since taking on his Red Bull job, with his first outing in the RB19 set to take place in the post-British Grand Prix tyre test at Silverstone.
But with Red Bull claiming that Ricciardo has rediscovered his missing form in its simulator to be back to his best, he would be an obvious contender at AlphaTauri if the Italian outfit elected to make a change.
De Vries has had a difficult baptism with the Italian team, having yet to score a point and getting involved in his fair share of incidents.
His best result of the season was 14th in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. He crashed out in Australia and Baku, and came home in 18th in Miami after running in to the back of Lando Norris on the opening lap.
For now, the team is keeping faith in de Vries, with team principal Franz Tost having said at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix that it would be wrong to expect a rookie not to endure his fair share of incidents.
“As I always say, there is a learning process and a crash period because, if the drivers don’t crash, they don’t know the limit,” he said.
“This is a credit you must give them, otherwise it doesn’t work. And there was no driver not crashing. I remember with Sebastian [Vettel] in the first races, he came back on the first lap most often without the front nose. That’s part of the game.”
Nyck de Vries, AlphaTauri AT04, hits Lando Norris, McLaren MCL60, at the start of the race
Photo by: Michael Potts / Motorsport Images
But while de Vries is not under immediate pressure, sources have suggested that the team’s senior management, and especially Helmut Marko, want to see some signs of progress by the Spanish Grand Prix next month.
With a triple header coming up on tracks that de Vries knows, there should be a better opportunity to judge his potential – which is why how he does at Imola, Monaco and Barcelona will be crucial to dictating his future.
De Vries himself said he was looking forward to his chances for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, because there should be a good performance step…