Nyck de Vries has been shown a “yellow card” and needs to improve, but the Dutchman will not yet be ousted.
That is the word from Dr Helmut Marko, the architect of Red Bull’s highly successful F1 driver program, following rumours a decision has already been taken to axe the 28-year-old rookie from Alpha Tauri.
“Nothing will happen in the next three races,” Marko, 81, told Sport1.
“But we have spoken to de Vries and he agrees with us – he needs to improve. The gap to his teammate Yuki Tsunoda, who is doing a great job, is too big.
“To use football jargon, Nyck got the yellow card but not the red card yet. If he improves, a driver change will not be an issue,” Marko added.
But even if de Vries is ousted from the Red Bull-owned junior team, his replacement will not be 2023 Red Bull reserve Daniel Ricciardo.
“If worst comes to worst, we would fall back on our pool of young talent,” said Marko. “Specifically, Liam Lawson and Ayumu Iwasa.
“Ricciardo is not an issue,” he added.
New Zealander Lawson, 21, is currently in the Japanese open wheeler series Super Formula, while the similarly-aged Japanese Iwasa is third overall in this year’s Formula 2 championship.
Marko said Mick Schumacher is not being considered.
“He’s a Mercedes driver and he’s not in our plans,” he insisted. “Toto Wolff is responsible for him.”
According to Sport1, however, Schumacher could have a chance later this year at Williams, which is now headed by Wolff’s former deputy James Vowles.
Correspondent Ralf Bach wrote: “The Mercedes engine customer does not seem to be happy with the performance of the newcomer Logan Sargeant.”