Nyck de Vries, AlphaTauri, Bahrain International Circuit, 2023 pre-season test

Drivers question AlphaTauri’s “way too early” sacking of de Vries

2023 F1 season

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Nyck de Vries‘ sacking from AlphaTauri before the halfway point of his rookie Formula 1 season may have been sudden, but it was not unprecedented.

AlphaTauri are not new to dropping underperforming drivers mid-season, and it was clear for some time that de Vries was under pressure to retain his seat. But the timing of the announcement after the British Grand Prix was a surprise, as nobody left Silverstone expecting that they had seen de Vries in the paddock for the last time.

There is already talk of de Vries heading back to Formula E, where he was world champion in 2021, and his fellow drivers want to see him bounce back from his F1 departure by getting back in the cockpit elsewhere soon.

“Racing is cruel and so are the decisions,” said de Vries’ fellow Dutchman Tom Coronel, who currently leads the TCR Europe championship and was Super Formula champion in 1999.

“In my opinion, it’s way too early to make a decision about a driver when you’re not even halfway the season. He had a good race in Silverstone and made progress throughout the season, even with the slowest car on-track. He’s not far behind from a team mate who’s having his third year with the team.”

“Nyck has won every single race class he participated in: from karting, Formula 2, FE, superb performance in several endurance race cars and so on,” Coronel added. “I’m 100% sure a lot a F1 drivers don’t have a racing career like Nyck had already.”

“There’s a lot more than F1, but [he] deserved to have a full season to show your progress.”

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Coronel suspects De Vries won’t “want to do anything with racing at the moment” after his ousting.

Giedo van der Garde, another Dutchman and former F1 driver, said he “never expected it to be over so quickly for Nyck.

“If you look back at it, the amount of time he was given to get used to the car and the progress he made (slowly but surely) it’s – in my opinion – been too soon. As for Nyck, this hurts.”

Two of de Vries’ former FE rivals also indicated AlphaTauri had been too quick to cut de Vries loose.

“When you axe a driver after 10 races it shows the process of making the hiring decision is wrong,” said Lucas di Grassi. “Motor racing relies too much on instinct or ‘one lap’ or ‘one race result’ instead of looking the long term norm of a specific driver. So much methodology and data to make the car faster, so little to choose the right race driver.”

Antonio Felix da Costa, a former Red Bull Junior Team member who was never promoted to F1, pointed out de Vries had only limited pre-season testing opportunities this year. F1 held three days of testing in Bahrain before the season began.

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“[I] can only imagine how hard it must be to quickly get used to F1, perform with only a couple days testing,” said da Costa. “Nyck is getting closer to Tsunoda every weekend who, let’s not forget, had to have a couple of bad days himself to get to this level.”

Alpine junior and Formula 3 driver Sophia Floersch added: “It was never a fair chance. So sorry for Nyck.”

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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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64 comments on “Drivers question AlphaTauri’s “way too early” sacking of de Vries”

  1. Well then, let’s see which team decides to pick up de Vries.

    1. Mark in Florida
      12th July 2023, 18:33

      Haas could use him. Magnussen is done in my opinion.

      1. Too early an conclusion for Magnussen, lets see what happens now that he gets a new engine. Even if Magnussen is done, De Vries wouldn’t be an answer to anything as he is still a downgrade. Haas needs drivers that can perform straight away and not be development projects, which is also coincide with their car development through a season – starts well, finishes poorly.

      2. Williams could use him if they decide to replace Sargeant. Nyck did a good job for them the first time round.. maybe thats the environment for him.

    2. It’s absurd. The guy was an interim driver anyway. RBR never had long term plans for him, unless he did something amazing out of the blue. With this move they kill so many birds with one stone:

      1. Get a benchmark for Tsunoda’s performance

      2. Get a chance to see if DR can be rehabbed into the driver of old

      3. Ensure they have an actual viable replacement for Perez if he falls apart and Daniel is good

      4. Give the team a better chance to not be in last place in the WCC

      Finally, what star driver let alone one with as much experience as Nyck has ever performed this badly in their first ten races? None. I’m sorry, but if you’re crashing multiple times and being out performed nearly every race by your non-rates teammate, there’s about a .01% chance you’re a future star.

  2. Although a mid-season sacking is harsh, realistically I couldn’t see De Vries being retained for 2024 anyway.

    Yuki is still a risk, Perez is having a slump in form, so no huge surprise that Red Bull brought Ricciardo in. They need to know what their options are for the seat alongside Max in 2024, and they need to know soon.

    1. For me, the only thing this really indicates for De Vries is that RBR don’t think he’s ready for a seat alongside Max. They need to see what their options are for 2024, Nyck wasn’t up to it, so putting Danny in the AT allows them to evaluate what to do in case Perez doesn’t improve.

      1. @drmouse Pérez can improve back to something like his previous level, second fastest to Verstappen, I’m sure. But Red Bull must know by now that pressure and any kind of variability in conditions throws him. All drivers have off-races, even Verstappen, but it really depends how much of a performance dip that entails. With some drivers it’s huge, dropping and maybe finishing way down the field in the race. With others, nearly all the top drivers really, those dips aren’t sufficient to see their pace fall significantly. Russell’s consistency really impresses me, for example. Irrespective of how fast he is compared to Hamilton (very close probably), he never seems to have truly bad races. Obviously, like Verstappen, that’s discounting collisions, which can ruin or end anyone’s race. But overall Red Bull must know by now that Pérez’s inconsistency isn’t something that’s ever going to vanish. He can improve for the next race but not improve the general consistency of his driving.

        1. @david-br I can see that. I don’t, however, think that RBR will drop him if he can pick his performances back up consistently for the rest of the season, unless Danny puts in an outstanding performance at AT or a much better second driver* becomes available. RBR (Helmut especially) don’t tend to mince their words when they’re unhappy with their second driver’s performance, yet they are still making positive statements about Perez. They wouldn’t be doing that if they already thought his consistency was bad enough to exclude him from the seat next year.

          * specifically a much better second driver, not just a better driver. Someone who won’t challenge Max but will be there to pick up 2nd and support Max when needed.

          1. @drmouse I agree, I don’t think Red Bull will drop Pérez this season unless he continues to miss out on Q3, which I really can’t believe is possible. The Ricciardo move to AlphaTauri looks like a way of alerting Pérez without making a switch imminent. It may even ease the pressure a bit not having Ricciardo around. The thing is, I guess, that Ricciardo was the perfect other driver in the Red Bull team in terms of speed and talent, dependably second to Max in most races, but pushing him. But maybe what happened in Baku when the two collided spoiled the situation for the team. Now, who knows? And if not Ricciardo, like you say, who? Alonso would be perfect in terms of speed and experience, consistent enough and tough enough to handle the pressure – but beaten by Max on pace over a season. What the team want, not presumably what Alonso would want. Who else? Really difficult to see.

      2. For me, the only thing this really indicates for De Vries is that RBR don’t think he’s ready for a seat alongside Max.

        This is why I don’t like the idea of ‘B-Teams’.

        Every team on the grid should be doing whats best for itself & selecting drivers it feels are best for itself. Not hiring or swapping drivers so that another team on the grid can evaluate them.

        I’ve just never liked this concept of a driver in a ‘B team’ been dropped just because an ‘A team’ doesn’t think he’s good enough to move into there team. A top team should have no say in the firing of drivers from smaller teams.

        The fact this happens so often shows how bad the whole concept is, Time for the FIA to step in & ban ‘B teams’.

        1. I don’t get this false sentimentality for drivers that didn’t cut it.

          It’s not the team that’s the issue here, it’s Nyck not performing well enough to warrant any more chances.

          He was slower than Yuki Tsunoda, there’s not future in Formula 1 for that.

          1. Well the team is not exactly on top of its game too.

          2. Sury, Alpha Tauri is not doing well this year. But having replaced a driver that was usually quicker than Yuki with one that was usually slower didn’t help improve their prospects.

          3. Yes, I guess they wanted to get a driver stronger than gasly and got one weaker than tsunoda, and yes, experience matters, but the top drivers are usually fast from the start, they can make mistakes, but the speed is there.

          4. José Lopes da Silva
            13th July 2023, 10:06

            “Well the team is not exactly on top of its game too.”

            What does that matter????!

            Mansell beat Patrese both in 1988 Williams and in the 1992 Williams. Where the team doesn’t matter!

          5. Charlie Racing
            13th July 2023, 18:39


            “ the top drivers are usually fast from the start, they can make mistakes, but the speed is there”

            Exactly. Look at what drivers like Verstappen, Leclerc, Norris, Russel and Piastri did in their first 10 races. There were always wows in there. De Vries is just not top. Good, especially when given time, but there is no time like the time he needs in F1

        2. Time for the FIA to step in & ban ‘B teams’.

          I think you mean “ban the B team”
          Unless you can point to another team that has the same guy/guys selecting the drivers for a high rank team and another.

          Others on the grid might try to swing a deal with an engine customer, but nothing like the RBR/AT setup.

          1. Well, Ferrari picked drivers for Haas and Alfa Romeo many times and most likely still has a say, just like Toto decided seats in Williams previously and possibly still does. Let’s not fool ourselves….

        3. I disagree. It adds for a lot of excitement when drivers are swapped like this, and adds further intrigue down the back of the field while Max runs away with it.

          I like it.

          1. 100% agreed. A season that was quickly getting extremely boring just got a lot more interesting. I was hoping Aston would keep improving rapidly as a point of interest, but that fell through. Now we have this interesting non-WDC related story to follow.

  3. If anything, this goes to show that despite success in other racing categories, F1, is it’s own ball game. We’ve seen plenty of talents – Hartley, Vandoorne, Schumacher jr, etc. who had impressive runs before coming in to F1, then just failing regularly once they reach F1. Honestly, if Nyck could have been less error prone this season, the pace and confidence would come to him gradually. He just started off on the wrong foot and kept getting worse.

    I can understand the situation at Red Bull though.. they have Dan as a back up barometer for Yuki.. and a Red Bull driver that needs to be replaced. There’s no point in putting in time and effort in to a driver who has zero potential of driving for their main team. It’s harsh.. but not totally unexpected.

  4. Coventry Climax
    12th July 2023, 13:02

    He got a chance and took it. Whether it was a fair chance?
    Nyck never really shone in his F1 encounters, with the single exception, that got him the Alpha Tauri seat in the first place.
    Even in F2, it took him quite some time to get the title. There were many remarks about his lack of tyre management abilities, and some others probably. Maybe he did very well in some other classes, like FE and Endurance, but that’s no guarantee you’re F1 material.
    You can be a good sailor, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re top level in any kind of boat.

    I do agree however that this shows there’s a big flaw in the selection process in the first place. With Red Bull at the front, but it’s certainly not limited to them only.

    1. Yes, haas also looked bad that way, and at least red bull gives drivers a very good car if they perform, haas not even that.

  5. How nice of them.

    And they can be nice, not being the ones running an underperforming Formula 1 team with someone on his way out and a rookie in his late 20s at the wheels.

  6. “When you axe a driver after 10 races it shows the process of making the hiring decision is wrong,”

    That is the team/enterprise’s manner of decision making and their visions in a driver. Also, how about having hard words with the designers and aerodynamicists who are responsible for creating a horrible chassis this season?

  7. I think this is exactly why he was axed. Given his experience the team thought he would not need a rookie season, he would be able to deliver instantly. He could not, however, he was already close to Yuki in a number of sessions, so I can understand if he feels hard done by.

  8. Sadly de Vries became a pawn in the RBR game of pressuring Perez.
    I am taking a wait and see approach to DR replacing him at AT.

    1. What’s to wait and see? Nyck was going nowhere in the RBR organization even if he suddenly came up to Yuki’s level.

      So, RBR would literally only be hurting themselves by keeping on Nyck out of sense of charity and getting this evaluation of out of the way. I know you think DR is garbage, but he has a long list of celebrated names he crushed before HE got crushed: Vettel, Ocon, Hulk. He also beat Max. Yes, it wouldn’t happen with today’s Max, but he’s only the person to not just compete with, but beat Max. So, that’s worth taking a look at since they know DR won’t beat Max, but he can push him if he regains his old form + the two drivers got along. I think you said they should get Sainz, but they’ll never do that as the two absolutely hate each other’s guts.

  9. It’s just the way Red Bull runs their stuff.
    This is what, the 4th or 5th time they do this in the middle of a season.

    Devries was underperforming and isn’t one of their drivers. When Kvyat came back from Red Bull and was a disaster, they kept him for a long time because there was no one to replace him with.

    Now they probably realized why they were still giving this guy a seat if they have Ricciardo signed and decided to pull the trigger. Simple as that. It’s not like anyone ever gave a s about how this team performs when there were seasons like 2017 in which they replaced both drivers by the end of the season.

  10. If they had dumped him in order to try another rising young hopeful then I could kind of understand it.
    The fact that they are putting Ricciardo in the seat though makes me think that they know the car is the problem and they just want an experienced pair of hands on the wheel who can give them useful feedback and info about where the car sucks the most.

    1. That assessment makes very little sense, especially since Daniel is kind of well known for not being good at development.

    2. This conclusion makes little sense considering Daniel is fairly well known for not being a could development driver. He himself has admitted it’s his biggest weakness.

  11. The team exists to find drivers for Red Bull. I think Red Bull were happy with Max and Checo and they clearly didn’t think any of their other junior drivers were ready so they gave a seat to De Vries. Now they’re having doubts about Checo, they need the seat back in order to see whether Ricciardo has got over whatever happened at McLaren and to compare him to Yuki.

    It’s unfortunate for De Vries but that’s just the way it goes.

  12. I don’t know… is it harsh? probably… but sometimes it just doesn’t work for whatever reason. The team knows better, they see all the data and are in close contact with the driver. If he had shown flashes of speed or improvements, they’d have retained him. Why hire him in the first place if they know they are going to drop him after such a short time?

    Look at how Ricciardo’s time at McLaren ended. He never switched on, even after that win at Monza. Sometimes you just have to part ways…

    Also the previous success argument: a lot of times success elsewhere doesn’t translate into F1 success. How many drivers have won F3 or F2 like it was nothing, and then failed to perform in F1?

    1. Not even in the same series: how many drivers drove well in the midfield, then failed at red bull?

      1. You’re thinking of how many rookies or just bumped from AT have failed at RBR. What veterans besides Perez have looked hopeless at RBR against Max?

  13. Tim (@tsgoodchild)
    12th July 2023, 14:46

    This has nothing to do with AT. There is already an interview floating around with Helmut where he calls out Horner for not wanting to hire Nyck, so Horner gets Daniel a drive at the earliest opportunity. Isn’t Frank Tost leaving the company anyway so any decision on drivers has nothing to do with what AT actually want.

    1. Marko has at multiple occassions said he wanted more experienced drivers. He gets that here. Why would he want De Vries in the first place as he didn’t met his criterias?
      It’s all been a matter of Ricciardo being willing to accept his status as a lower-end F1 driver, take a big pay cut from his previous years and come out of the “sabbatical”. Now that he sees Perez struggling it might have him thinking that it’s a shot at getting back and the only way in for him is through AT.

  14. While it is outlined that De Vries was getting closer to Tsunoda driving wise, but he still lost the steering wheel, I wonder if this tell us more about Tsunoda than De Vries. Perhaps driving at Tsunoda’s level should not be so difficult from Redbull’s perspective… Ricciardo we will show us.

  15. While I see where everyone quoted in the article comes from & I, like most or all, found the timing surprising even though I was equally prepared for an in-season change but only during the summer break rather than any sooner, the decision was ultimately justifiable, given his vast professional racing experience beforehand, which is the key factor why he got less slack than Yuki in his rookie season after zero previous pro racing & only limited lower single-seater experience outside Japan.

    1. I get why they might give Tsunoda more slack, but Yuki has now had over 50 F1 races under his belt, and there’s nothing to suggest he’s good enough for a Red Bull seat, so why is he still there when De Vries gets chucked after 11 F1 races? At least De Vries had potential for improvement. Is Yuki’s job merely a benchmark for De Vries, and now Ricciardo, and maybe Lawson after that?

      1. Yuki is still there because Ayumu is still racing in Formula 2.

        1. @proesterchen Zero correlation.
          He merely hasn’t given strong justification for sacking by his general performance this season thus far.
          However, the situation would probably change if he regularly fails to match Ricciardo despite a considerable car familiarity advantage.

          1. Tsunoda’s performance is irrelevant.

            If Red Bull cared, they’d have dumped him halfway through 2021 as well (he was over 6 places behind Gasly in Qualifying, and 4 in the race – just about double the gap De Vries had this year).

            Tsunoda is only there because no other (non-Toyota affiliated) Japanese driver has a a super license.

          2. Agree with michael, his performance is not good enough to justify keeping him that long, it’s all about the country, which sucks if you think about it, favouring drivers of a certain country, brings back to some stuff in the 1945 and such.

          3. @MichaelN @esploratore1 He didn’t get sacked halfway through his rookie season because of his previous limited general racing experience, as enlightened in my original post.
            I’m surprised people still think he would’ve got a chance in F1/would still be in F1 because of Honda, even though Red Bull only ever takes & keeps drivers for performance/related factors rather than external ones, like some smaller teams used to do before becoming financially stable in the recent past, so he definitely can get sacked if he can’t out-perform or even match Ricciardo at all.
            Furthermore, Iwasa will most likely become SL-eligible late this year, but despite this, the likelihood of him racing in F1 next season is relatively low anyway.

  16. This is why i’ve never really liked the idea of ‘B teams’.

    I think it’s fairly clear that this like other Toro Rosso/Alpha Tauri driver moves isn’t about the team he was driving for and more about what the ‘A team’ wants to evaluate.

    It has just all too often feel over the years that Toro Rosso/Alpha Tauri is a wasted spot on the grid as it’s a team that feels like it’s always looking out for another team rather than doing whats best for itself. How many quality young drivers who would once have been given a spot in one of those cars when it was Minardi have been passed by for not been part of Red Bull. It’s a shame & waste of a grid slot.

    1. Hardly a wasted spot. Red Bull brought more drivers on the grid than any other team in the last two decades. They are giving more chances than any other team. They don’t consider pay drivers.
      Williams, Haas and other struggling teams wasted a lot more potential.

      However I would like to see rookies in those cars, not Daniel. Hopefully next year.

      Ps: reported the comment by mistake. Sorry. The position of this button is awful.

      1. At the very least needs a confirmation prompt.

    2. I believe you’re overromanticizing the past. From 2000 and on Minardi became a paydriver team, which is a clear red light for getting the most talented drivers onto the grid. At the very least B teams secure seats for their academy drivers that are deemed good enough for F1 – issue being that they are locked by their own pool of academy drivers, which isn’t always the best drivers. Then later on there were Caterham, Virgin/Marussian, which were also pay-to-drive seats and in all cases there were more teams on the grid, with the need for more drivers. If we had more B teams on the grid, we would also have more talented drivers, but then again, so would a bigger grid.

      I don’t see a world were sacking De Vries and replacing him with Ricciardo isn’t for the greater good of the team. One brings experience in development and racing, and will most likely push Tsunoda and perhaps teach him something. De Vries was going nowhere in development.

  17. This is amazing. I watch and read about F1 to be entertained. Its just entertainment. And this? This is definitely entertaining.
    Don’t feel bad for any of these guys. 10 races in F1 and De Vries has made more money than more than 99% of the world will make in their lifetime.

    Good entertainment, that’s what Liberty wants, and that’s what I am getting. I spend $90 of my hard earned money to watch these rich kids drive cars and so stories like these are awesome. I can’t wait for more entertainment from the Hungarian Grand Prix! #f1soapopera

    1. Not that I generally care about these things, but I don’t think as much as 99% let alone more, which would mean 100% or all, given that would be nearly everyone in the world & other businesses or fields have many people who make even more than F1 drivers on average.

      1. Nevertheless, I wholly agree with you about not feeling bad for racing drivers who get a chance to compete on the highest circuit-racing level, considering the many who never get such a chance, especially those that used to race against current drivers of their age or thereabouts in either karting, lower single-seaters or both.

        1. Thanks for this essential update 😐

      2. Not that I generally care about these things, but there are actually infinite numbers between 99% and 100%

  18. Neil (@neilosjames)
    12th July 2023, 22:18

    I think the only chance he ever had was to beat Tsunoda more or less straight away, and demonstrate that he might be a magically overlooked talent who could soon be promoted to drive for Red Bull. ‘Average F1 driver’ or worse was no use for Red Bull, especially at his age.

    Wouldn’t be surprised if the length of time he’d get to prove himself was at least floated internally as soon as Ricciardo arrived as a third driver and indicated he’d have a go in an Alpha Tauri if necessary.

    1. Yeah, I wonder whether NdV knew or realised this was a potential outcome and the crashing was a result of overdriving a car that wasn’t keen on being driven. I do think it’s a nonsense that they’ve got rid of him this quickly, as much as I like DR, but “When you dance with the devil” and all that!

  19. I notice that not one of the drivers defending him is current F1 or has a record of F1 success. A bit of a non-headline headline.

    1. The reason, they are still racing in F1 and do not want to burn bridges

  20. I think RedBull want to find the “New” Max. Every team wants the two best drivers they can find at all times, (well maybe not Aston Martin). DeVries obviously didn’t show signs of being that person, so move him on and evaluate Dan and see if he can be pre Mclaren Dan or if he is done. I feel like Dan might become the new Marcus Ericsson at AT, a staple by which others are judged, if you can’t beat Dan, then unlikely you are the “New Max”.

  21. I wonder how much fault lies with De Vries’ management.

    Did they overestimate the upside chance of being poached by a better team and underestimate the downside risk of being dropped?

    He got signed by AlphaTauri off the back of a strong performance at Monza and good credentials (e.g. Formula E champion). They might have thought he would easily outperform Tsunoda and be hot property for other teams. The terms of the deal that might have made it easy for De Vries to jump to another team might have also made it easier for Marko to swing the axe.

    I say this because worse performing drivers have been given a whole season, mainly because the costs of termination aren’t worth it for the team.

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