Nyck de Vries, AlphaTauri, Albert Park, 2023

Analysis: Why 10 races was enough for AlphaTauri to show de Vries the door

2023 F1 season

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Nyck de Vries has been dropped by AlphaTauri before he’d even made it to the halfway point in his first Formula 1 season.

He has been shown the door after just 10 races and will be replaced by Daniel Ricciardo at next week’s Hungarian Grand Prix.

AlphaTauri hired de Vries after he made a ‘super-sub’ performance for Williams at last year’s Italian Grand Prix, racing Alexander Albon’s car to eighth place. However there were few flashes of the same form over the 10 grands prix and two sprint races he started for his new team.

Bahrain Grand Prix

Nyck de Vries, AlphaTauri, Bahrain International Circuit, 2023
De Vries’ debut for AlphaTauri was at worst unremarkable

De Vries’ rookie year in Formula 1 started with a weekend that showed how competitive he and AlphaTauri would often be over the first half of the season. He qualified 19th, five places behind team mate Yuki Tsunoda, then had a steady race where he climbed as high as 11th through strategy but finished 14th. As would become the norm, he was not in contention to score points and on this occasion he was slower than Tsunoda in every session.

Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

Nyck De Vries, AlphaTauri, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2023
Missing a practice session set De Vries back in Jeddah

The gap between the two AlphaTauris in qualifying was less than half of what it was in Bahrain, but de Vries could only qualify 18th. He was new to the Jeddah track, and matters were not helped when he also missed a practice session due to a power unit issue.

In Q1 he spun on his first flying lap. In the race he battled Williams’ Logan Sargeant in his first stint before going in to pit and being double-stacked behind Tsunoda. That cost him five places.

De Vries regained two sports from others pitting during a Safety Car period, then lost them again once racing resumed by not being aggressive enough wheel-to-wheel. Problems which struck the Williams cars brought de Vries back up to 14th by the finish.

Australian Grand Prix

Nyck de Vries, AlphaTauri and Logan Sargeant, Williams, Albert Park, 2023
Sargeant took de Vries out in Melbourne

Another new track to de Vries, but the scene of his best qualifying yet in terms of his gap to Tsunoda and his position, as he made it to Q2 and took 15th on the grid.

But he was unable to build on that in the race, making contact with Esteban Ocon following a Safety Car restart and falling down the order. The damage from that incident held him back even more. Valtteri Bottas relegated him to last place, twice, and at the standing restart he was taken out by Sargeant.

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Azerbaijan Grand Prix

Nyck de Vries, AlphaTauri, Baku City Circuit, 2023
Baku was the nadir from which de Vries’ standing within the team never recovered

De Vries set the sixth-fastest time in the sole practice session, which raised expectations. However from there on he endured an absolutely dire weekend.

He was slowest in qualifying for the grand prix (where he had car problems and then a crash) and for the sprint race. He finished the latter in 14th after tangling with Tsunoda on the first lap. The team blamed de Vries for the contact.

The pair started 10 places apart on Sunday, but de Vries managed to end his race early by finding the barriers by himself.

Miami Grand Prix

Nyck de Vries, AlphaTauri, Miami International Autodrome, 2023
De Vries did to Norris what Sargeant did to him – though both continued

De Vries beat his team mate to get into Q2, but then had a messy time once again when racing got underway. He locked up and hit Lando Norris on lap one and fell to last, and had only gained one place once the pit stops had played out.

During the second half of the race he passed Oscar Piastri to finish 18th, seven places behind Tsunoda.

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Monaco Grand Prix

Nyck de Vries, AlphaTauri, Monaco, 2023
De Vries had the right strategy in tricky wet Monaco race

De Vries won twice at Monaco in Formula 2, and with AlphaTauri looking in better shape hopes were high. He duly qualified 12th, three places behind his team mate, and finished the race in that position.

Both drivers were among those who avoided pitting before the rain arrived, and timed their switch to intermediates well. De Vries avoided the brake glazing problem which ruined Tsunoda’s day, but finished over 43 seconds off the points places.

Spanish Grand Prix

Nyck de Vries, AlphaTauri, Circuit de Catalunya, 2023
Wet track caught de Vries out in qualifying, but he reached Q2

Another Q2 appearance, despite spinning on a damp track in Q1, and again he out-paced Tsunoda.

An early pit stop to ‘undercut’ those ahead didn’t enable him to progress from his starting position of 14th, but that was also down to de Vries as his team mate had far stronger pace and, unlike him, managed to avoid being lapped.

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Canadian Grand Prix

Nyck de Vries, AlphaTauri, and Kevin Magnussen, Haas, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2023
An optimistic lunge on Magnussen spoiled both their races

AlphaTauri were off the pace again, with neither driver escaping Q1 and de Vries being the slower of the two by 0.391s. He got unlucky with Safety Car timing in the race, and then spent his time in a DRS train before clashing with Kevin Magnussen and dropping to last. The gap between team mates was once again so large that they finished on different laps.

Austrian Grand Prix

Kevin Magnussen, Haas, Red Bull Ring, 2023
De Vries angered Magnussen again in Austria

Another sprint weekend meant reduced practice time, but the field was closely matched. A mistake on his final lap meant de Vries qualified last but only 0.858s off the Q1 pace. He learned from his error, going eighth-fastest in the first part of qualifying for the sprint race and 14th in the second segment, with the field more spread out than the day before.

A bad start consigned him to finishing 17th in the sprint race, however. His weekend only got worse on Sunday. He started from the pit lane for the grand prix, got caught out on strategy, forced Magnussen off-track and earned a penalty, then got two more penalties for track limits violations. However Tsunoda exceeded track limits even more frequently, so de Vries finished ahead on the road and in the final classification.

But it was becoming clear de Vries’ days were numbered. Magnussen, unimpressed by their second run-in in as many races, said his rival was “racing for his future and maybe in a bit of a desperate situation.”

British Grand Prix

Nyck de Vries, AlphaTauri, Silverstone, 2023
After a practice spin, de Vries finished within two seconds of his team mate in last F1 start

This prove to be de Vries’ last weekend as an F1 driver.

He was 19th in qualifying, spared the indignity of being last due to Magnussen stopping with a loss of oil pressure, and used a two-stop strategy in the race on the faster tyre compounds to finish 17th and last. AlphaTauri as a team woefully underperformed though, with Tsunoda only 1.9s ahead in 16th at the finish.

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Author information

Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching photography back in the UK. Currently based...

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37 comments on “Analysis: Why 10 races was enough for AlphaTauri to show de Vries the door”

  1. This is EXTREMELY unfair on De Vries, in my opinion. He got ten races in the worst car on the grid, with little support from his team, in his debut season – it’s nigh on impossible to perform well in those circumstances. I don’t feel Yuki Tsunoda would have faired much better had he been in the same situation two years ago.

    1. It’s not unfair, it’s just business. AT is a breeding ground for RB. There is no point in wasting a seat on a guy when you know he will never be promoted to a RB. Same for Yuki. He is also on the hot seat. RB is finally seeing some of their junior drivers getting enough super license points to join F1, so they have more options now, then a couple of years ago. They always had this relentless “be good right away or get fired” mindset.

      The car doesn’t help, but it can’t mask all the other things that clearly didn’t impress them.

      1. In a proper breeding ground though @dontme, all efforts are put in to reach the top potential of those in it, which effort I have to agree with Craig S, certainly did not seem to be there certainly not near the end.

  2. Let’s be honest here, it’s not all about De Vries. It’s about Sergio Perez.

    If Perez was performing at Red Bull, there’d be zero urgency to assess Ricciardo (and indirectly, Tsunoda). The longer is slump goes on, the less risk there is to throw someone else in the car for next season and the bigger the temptation there is to look at the options. One of them was never going to be De Vries.

    Sure, Nyck has made mistakes, but he has somewhat slowed the rate of them down, and performance wise… yeah, not great, but also not miles off and not costing the team points, the car isn’t capable of them. 10 races isn’t much of a chance.

    If the situation at Red Bull was stable, he’d have got more time, and if it was purely about them not rating De Vries, they’d probably not throw Ricciardo in, they’d look at someone like Liam Lawson. After all, that’s what Alpha Tauri is meant to be, the junior team where guys get a break, not a parking spot for an experienced runner.

    It’s all about Red Bull and Perez.

    1. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense @mrcento.

    2. Coventry Climax
      11th July 2023, 20:41


  3. While I think Nick didn’t do as well as I thought he could, this is still Helmut’s failure. Ever since Daniel left the team, he’s been unable to properly train his drivers in the academy, recycling people from all over the place (Hartley from WEC, De Vries from Formula E, Kvyat from F1 itself), rushing others to promotions, even hiring someone from the outside to race at the main team (Perez), and leaving huge holes in their line-up.

    Imagine what would have happened had their managed to get Colton Herta… he’d have been left in the desert, racing an uncompetitive car on tracks he never ever raced at. De Vries at least had some recent experience and he still struggled massively.

    1. Driving an Alpha Tauri is hardly going to help Ricciardo rediscover his “mojo”. He would have been better off joining Haas. It’s clear a return to the senior team next season is on the cards which would be unfair on Perez. I actually think Tsunoda would make a better team mate for Max than Ric. He certainly has the talent if not the consistency at present.

      1. @myrrve anything is better than Haas. What good is Haas going to do to his confidence?

        If you have an alternative, any alternative, you’d not go to Haas at all!

        1. Well, Hulkenberg has done reasonably well there since returning. In fairness to Ricciardo he is hardly inferior to the German. At least the car has decent enough pace if not reliability. He will simply have to outperform Tsunoda in every respect each weekend for this comeback to be deemed a success and that’s far from a give-in.

      2. I don’t think it’s necessarily about him recovering his mojo, just evaluating his race performance. He’s not raced competitively since last year (if you can call that competitively lol).

        I’m not sure it’s unfair to Perez unless he gets his performance up to scratch. RBR can’t afford to have a driver who is unable to get the best car on the grid out of Q3 for very long. He’ll be given some leeway, given it looks like they’ll still take 1st in both championships, but they can’t guarantee they’ll have such a large margin over the rest of the field next season. They need to ensure they have options if Perez has lost his mojo.

        It would be unfair to just boot Perez now, though not completely out of character for RBR. He’s probably lucky they don’t have a good option right now: Danny hasn’t raced for half a season and wasn’t on form when he last raced, Tsunoda doesn’t look to be up to the task, De Vries wasn’t even close*, and Lawson is a complete unknown in terms of F1.

        * I will add a “yet” to that. He may have just been taking longer to settle in than some… Guess we’re unlikely ever to know now.

    2. Indeed, they struck gold with Vettel and then sort of bought Verstappen but they’re not even bringing midfield drivers into F1 anymore. The program has stalled big time. The common part of all those? The men in charge.

    3. @fer-no65

      While I think Nick didn’t do as well as I thought he could, this is still Helmut’s failure.

      Agree completely. Max has kept Marko’s job for him. If we take Max out of the picture, Marko hasn’t signed one top notch talent, nor developed one talent in a decade.

      He’s brought the drivers in the team with a knife at their throats, which hasn’t gotten the most out of recognised talents such as Gasly and Albon. The fact that both Gasly and Albon started performing well as soon as the got out of the main Red Bull team shows that the person actually failing at their job was Helmut.

      Helmut has been the acting executioner within the Red Bull team, but I think it might not be long before his head is on the chopping block.

      1. If we take Max out of the picture, Marko hasn’t signed one top notch talent, nor developed one talent in a decade.

        Let’s turn it around – who did Dr Marko miss?

        Who is that driver that would have won a Championship that Seb and Max didn’t win for Red Bull Racing?

      2. Helmut has been the acting executioner within the Red Bull team, but I think it might not be long before his head is on the chopping block.

        I do suppose that with the new ownership now that Mateschitz isn’t there any more, his role might well be looked anew yeah, certainly when/if the points stop flowing in (because before that, why change a pretty winning number? Yeah, but Perez, and who to slot in for him: the matter is already there for a senior manager to evaluate and optimize away).

  4. It’s going to be rough seeing Danny Ric at the back of the field like this. HRT days all over again. Just think, if he’d done a little better last year we could’ve seen him fighting for a podium last weekend or battle Max for the lead.

    1. If I was Daniel I’d have turned it down and wanted for Checo to go.

      1. You don’t get to decide that after performing worse at mclaren.

  5. I was certain you were going to go with “Show de Vries de Door”

  6. IF. RBR has a chance to grab Carlos or the Hulk or even Lando DR will never see the cockpit of an RBR car again. Enjoynthe next couple of days DR.

    1. I agree, and I can see Carlos being up for it. Ferrari keep screwing him over, and you can see the massive frustration in him. Being the second driver in the best car with a team performing at the top of its game would be far better than being the second driver in the 3rd/4th best car at a team which seems intent on shooting itself in the foot at every available opportunity.

    2. I just this morning saw an article floating by where Ferrari management mentioned having to expedite extending Leclerc’s contract as Red Bull supposedly contacted him earlier in the year, so yeah.

  7. De Vries now has a lifetime membership of an exclusive club: Red Bull Racing Survivors. He can nurse a pint and share stories of traumatic phobe calls with Helmut Marko with Algesuari, Speed, Bourdais, Kvyat, Albon, Liuzzi, Hartley, Gasly…

  8. With a 13th average finishing position for Tsunoda and 15th for De Vries, it’s pretty obvious that performance isn’t really that big an issue. Especially since they’ve been pretending Tsunoda is some future star for three years now. He isn’t, they know he isn’t, but they’re keeping him around because their Japanese PU supplier has a thing for Japanese drivers.

    De Vries didn’t have that leverage, so was always destined to be a stop-gap solution. One that probably wasn’t even on their radar until Verstappen gave him a positive recommendation late last season, so nobody in management had any stake in him either. The few young talents Red Bull still has are still working through their super license build-up, and Red Bull was never going to get the FIA to approve their scheme to bring someone in who has nowhere near enough points.

    With Pérez spiraling into midfield obscurity in the best car by far, they needed to put him on notice. But they were never going to bring Tsunoda in to the big team for obvious reasons. So De Vries had to go to make room for someone who, in some ways, presented a credible threat to Pérez’ future at the big team. We’ll see how credible that really is, because while Ricciardo had some good moments, most of those are now almost a decade ago, and he has been so bad these last few years that he was unceremoniously dumped by a midfield team.

    1. Yea the Chinese expression “kill the chickens to scare the monkey” comes to mind now. The other monkey is Tsunoda.

      1. I think the monkey here is probably Sergio @dwm

  9. If DR doesn’t perform against Tsunoda what then? I would argue it would be better to put De Vries back in, at least he would have a chance of improvement and would be cheaper.

  10. Nyck is done.

    Palou might be an option for an Alpha Tauri drive after he secures his second Indycar title.

    1. Sorry, that was @f1hornet

  11. I have no idea what De Vries is like as a person.
    Not all drivers are good at giving feedback or accepting their own mistakes.
    What if he just hasn’t ever fit in or been considered a team member?
    It certainly seems to me that there might be more to this than just his poor performance on the track.

    If I am doing the guy a disservice, then I genuinely apologise.
    I do not know him and I’m just speculating here.

    1. I think he’s annoying the team with his sincere feedback about car’s performance. That’s the main reason he’s out. The rest is history.

      1. That may well be the case yes ;)

  12. Sergey Martyn
    12th July 2023, 10:49

    A typical day at RB kindergarten – Take your toys and don’t pee in my potty…

  13. Signing Nyck meant they removed a factor in Mercedes’ stable. So mission accomplished.
    Nyck should’ve gone to Williams but that would’ve meant him admitting that he wasn’t good enough to get promoted to RedBull.

  14. This has to be Daniel’s last chance in F1. I just can’t see him getting another seat if this doesn’t work. I really hope he has kept up his fitness regime. Now he needs to do his homework.

  15. The fish dies by its mouth… the guy looked way arrogant when he talked to netflix’s DTS

  16. Answering the question in the title: because that’s how long it took Pérez to beat the team’s record for worst qualifying performance ever.

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