Red Bull team boss Christian Horner said he did not see how the signing of Nyck de Vries fitted into the Red Bull junior philosophy, and so his presence was always a “stopgap”.
De Vries was brought into the Red Bull fold for F1 2023 and assigned to their junior team AlphaTauri, where he would become team-mate to Yuki Tsunoda after Pierre Gasly’s departure for Alpine.
But for De Vries, his Red Bull career was over after just 10 grands prix, the Dutchman’s struggles to match Tsunoda’s performances and a collection of rookie errors convincing Red Bull that it was time already to pull the plug.
Christian Horner confirms doubts over Nyck de Vries
Nearing the end of De Vries’ time with the team, Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko had alarmingly made it public knowledge that Horner had not been on board with the idea of signing De Vries, who had impressed in a one-off outing for Williams at the 2022 Italian Grand Prix, scoring a P9 finish.
And now Horner, speaking on the F1 Nation podcast, has shed further light on why he did not believe De Vries was the right fit for the role at AlphaTauri all along.
“Look, Nyck is a very capable driver and a Formula E Champion and Formula 2 Champion. He’s obviously got a lot of experience,” Horner began.
“He’s not a young driver as such, from an age perspective. And I just didn’t see how it fitted within the junior programme. It was always a stopgap.”
And Horner said it was this experience which worked against De Vries as the expectations of him were higher.
So, when Red Bull believed he was underperforming, Horner said it was time to look at the alternatives, and the most “interesting option” was Red Bull’s reserve driver Daniel Ricciardo, who has headed to AlphaTauri on loan for the remainder of the F1 2023 campaign.
That means the Hungarian Grand Prix will serve as his first outing with the Faenza-based squad since 2013.
“It was becoming obviously a difficult situation for Nyck de Vries, but there was a high expectation on him because whilst inexperienced in Formula 1, he’s obviously a very experienced driver,” Horner explained.
“I think there was a general feeling that Nyck wasn’t quite hitting the mark. And then the question was what are the options if we were to switch things around?
“And from a Red Bull Racing perspective, the most interesting option for me was to see how Daniel performed. So that was the decision that was made. It all happened pretty quick. And here he is for the Hungarian Grand Prix.”
Ricciardo does have a Hungarian Grand Prix victory to his name, that coming back in 2014 in what was his first season with Red Bull.
At the wheel of the AlphaTauri AT04 for his F1 2023 return though, arguably the slowest challenger on the grid, getting anywhere near repeating such an achievement would be a miracle.