AlphaTauri team boss Franz Tost says he feels “sympathy” for their former driver Nyck de Vries, but with more F1 tracks coming which are unfamiliar to the Dutchman, Tost said the driver change had to happen.
After only 10 grands prix as an AlphaTauri driver, the team’s advisor and head of the Red Bull driver programme Helmut Marko made the decision to axe De Vries from his seat with Red Bull’s junior team.
In his place as of the Hungarian Grand Prix will be eight-time race winner Daniel Ricciardo, who having served as Red Bull’s reserve driver so far in F1 2023, heads to AlphaTauri on loan for the remainder of the season.
Franz Tost reflects on tough but correct Nyck de Vries firing
De Vries was only one of two drivers without a point in F1 2023 at the point of his sacking. That in itself perhaps was not the main concern, with the AlphaTauri AT04 serving as arguably the slowest challenger on the grid, but his inability to match the pace of team-mate Yuki Tsunoda was alarming.
And with F1 venues waiting ahead after the European leg of the season which De Vries is not familiar with, Tost said it was in AlphaTauri’s best interests to remove De Vries in favour of Ricciardo’s extensive Formula 1 experience.
“I have sympathy for Nyck,” Tost told Formula.hu.
“Believe me, it was a very, very difficult decision, because Nyck is a fantastic person with whom I have a very good relationship, and he’s also an excellent driver. He has won in Formula Renault, he has won in Formula 3, he has won in Formula 2 and Formula E. I have to say that Formula 1 has changed dramatically recently.
“What does that mean? It means that when a young driver comes to F1 he has to be very professional. When a young driver comes in, he does about five thousand kilometres in private tests and although we did test with Nyck, maybe not as much as we needed to.
“Then there are the unknown tracks at the start of the year, like Saudi Arabia, Miami or Melbourne, but then there are the sprint weekends, when after a free practice session there is qualifying. This makes it very, very difficult for a newcomer to perform well.
“Add to that the fact that the current F1 field is of a very, very high standard, there’s absolutely no one there that I would say doesn’t fully deserve to be an F1 driver.
“There will be a lot of tracks again in the second half of the year that Nyck doesn’t know and we took that into account in the decision making process because it’s a big disadvantage. Daniel Ricciardo knows the tracks and that’s why we made the decision.”
AlphaTauri’s underperformance so far in F1 2023 sees them sitting rock bottom of the Constructors’ Championship standings with only two points on the board, scored by Tsunoda.