Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff has suggested that Nyck de Vries could’ve been a candidate for a Red Bull Formula 1 seat if he was given more time.
Following his impressive debut with Williams in Italy last year, AlphaTauri signed de Vries for the 2023 campaign.
However, the Dutchman was dropped just 10 races into his rookie F1 season and replaced by veteran Daniel Ricciardo, who is targeting a return to Red Bull.
Prior to his association with AlphaTauri, de Vries was embedded into the Mercedes organisation, winning a World Championship with its Formula E squad in 2021.
He also acted as one of its F1 reserve drivers and had a duo of FP1 outings with the Brackley-based squad last year.
Wolff has suggested that de Vries needed more time to become accustomed to F1, which could’ve provided great opportunities down the road.
“Maybe he needed more time,” Wolff told Sky F1. “If he had been given the season, who knows?
“Maybe he would have been a really good candidate for the Red Bull seat, too?
“They wanted, I think, to do some benchmarking with Ricciardo. To see if Daniel might be able to take [Sergio Perez’s] seat.
“Once you’ve made that decision, then of course [De Vries will] fall through the cracks.
“I’m a fan of [De Vries] because he’s incredibly intelligent for vehicle development and has always contributed a lot.”
A vacancy is set to arise at Red Bull at the end of 2024 when Perez’s contract with the squad expires.
Wolff is not the only person who feels that de Vries was dropped prematurely – his team-mate Yuki Tsunoda admitted he was surprised regarding the timing of the axing.
De Vries has not yet announced his next racing plans, but is set to make an appearance in a Formula 2 car later this month as part of a demo run.