Helmut Marko tells AlphaTauri drivers to ‘prove themselves if they want to stay in Formula 1’

Michelle Foster
Nyck de Vries and his AlphaTauri team-mate Yuki Tsunoda smiling. Bahrain February 2023

Nyck de Vries and his AlphaTauri team-mate Yuki Tsunoda smiling. Bahrain February 2023

Helmut Marko has warned the AlphaTauri drivers they must prove themselves if they “want to stay in F1”, but it’s not all doom and gloom as a Red Bull opportunity could await the “better” of the team-mates.

This season Yuki Tsunoda has a new team-mate in Nyck de Vries, the 28-year-old having secured the AlphaTauri race seat on the back of his P9 on debut in a one-off appearance for Williams at last year’s Italian Grand Prix.

But with neither scoring a point at the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, the pressure is already on.

It, however, isn’t all doom and gloom for the team-mates, neither of whom has a firm contract for next season, with Marko saying the one that does “better” could be the next Red Bull driver.

“To be a candidate for Red Bull Racing, you have to have an extraordinary performance,” the motorsport advisor told Formula1.de.

“They have to prove themselves if they want to stay in Formula 1. The better one will probably have a chance. That applies to Yuki and also to De Vries.”

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But Sergio Perez has the race seat until the end of 2024 at least

For now though, and also 2024, the second Red Bull seat alongside Max Verstappen isn’t available as it belongs to Sergio Perez with Red Bull not seeing a reason to replace him.

Last season, following his Monaco Grand Prix win, Red Bull announced a new two-year contract for the Mexican racer which was his first multi-year deal with the Milton Keynes squad.

Saying the driver had “survived two seasons alongside Verstappen, and very well,” Marko added: “Last year third in the World Championship. Two wins on very difficult courses, Singapore, Monte Carlo.

“And he has improved, he has integrated well into the team. He is more in tune with Verstappen and has become a harder worker. Above all, he has partially eliminated his weakness in qualifying.

“At the moment there is nothing against Perez.”

‘Now it’s De Vries’ turn to deliver’

Marko talked up De Vries ahead of his AlphaTauri arrival, telling the media he believed the Dutchman could quickly become AlphaTauri’s team leader.

However, after Bahrain he wasn’t entirely happy with the driver’s performance.

“I think right now he has to deal with his performance,” Marko said, “because he was at the same level as Yuki in Sector 1 [in Bahrain] but he lost too much in Sector 2 and he lost too much in the race too.

“There now he has to top it up.”

AlphaTauri team boss Franz Tost believes he can, but admits it’s up to the team to give him a car capable of fighting for points.

“Nyck will step up,” he said. “If he has a good car, then he will be there.

“You know, if you are a young driver, a newcomer in Formula 1, then it’s even more difficult if the car causes troubles. It’s easier with a competitive car to show good performance.

“And I’m convinced that Nyck will increase his performance and that he will show us good races.”