Helmut Marko rubbishes ‘brutal’ talk when it comes to Nyck de Vries’ axing

Michelle Foster
AlphaTauri driver Nyck de Vries at the British Grand Prix. Silverstone, July 2023.

AlphaTauri's Nyck de Vries at the British Grand Prix. Silverstone, July 2023.

Helmut Marko has doubled down on his criticism of Nyck de Vries, asking how can a sacking be “brutal” when the “performance isn’t right”.

Just 10 races into his AlphaTauri career, De Vries was let go by the Red Bull team with Marko saying at the time his deficit to his team-mate Yuki Tsunoda had actually grown bigger over the ten races, not smaller.

Sacked with immediate effect, not even demoted to a reserve driver role, former Red Bull World Champion Sebastian Vettel joined a growing chorus of drivers and pundits calling it “brutal”.

Helmut Marko: Not everyone can be an F1 driver

“It’s also a bit harsh when it comes to a very sudden stop like that,” said the former F1 driver. “It’s brutal.”

He added: “Maybe those 10 races didn’t go according to how good they could have been. We don’t know why, first of all, from the outside, and second, he is still a very good driver. So I have to also sympathise with the fact it’s very harsh for him.”

Marko though fails to see how it could be considered harsh given the driver wasn’t performing to standard.

“What’s brutal about it when the performance isn’t right?” the Red Bull motorsport advisor told Motorsport-Total.com.

“We made the move with De Vries because stagnation set in. There was no progress and he didn’t meet expectations. He just didn’t fit.”

He added: “We gave him a chance. And there are only 20 Formula 1 drivers. Not everyone can become that.”

Reiterating that the 28-year-old former Formula E champion couldn’t be judged at the same standards as a rookie given his years of experience in motor racing, Marko added: “That’s why other standards apply to him. He’s no longer a junior.

“At some point in Formula 1 he tested almost all the Mercedes-powered chassis. Of course, there was a certain amount of know-how there. But that alone is not enough.”

PlanetF1.com recommends

All the mid-season driver swaps Red Bull have made in their F1 history

Revealed: The shortest F1 careers this century in the brutal world of Formula 1

Goodbye Nyck de Vries, welcome back Daniel Ricciardo

De Vries’ race seat went to Red Bull reserve driver Daniel Ricciardo after the Aussie impressed the team bosses during his Silverstone Pirelli tyre run. Setting impressive times in the opening hour and a bit, Christian Horner was on the phone to Marko, De Vries was sacked and Ricciardo was loaned to AlphaTauri.

Marko says it has already bolstered team morale: “They all have a smile on their faces now. You can see how happy they are back at work.

“It was a morale boost that was urgently needed. Franz Tost is retiring. The new CEO, Peter Bayer, is already here. Laurent Mekies is coming at the beginning of next year. There was already unrest anyway. And then Dietrich Mateschitz’s death, which you could feel throughout the group.

“That’s why it’s a win-win situation with Ricciardo.

“With him we see where is the car, how does an experienced driver see the technical package. Then we finally know how good the AlphaTauri really is, and we know how good Tsunoda is, who is currently operating somewhere in no man’s land. Because We know Ricciardo and we can assess them. Those are important references for a group with two teams.”

Colton Herta is no longer on Red Bull radar

Prior to signing De Vries, AlphaTauri had made a play for IndyCar driver Colton Herta but that was blocked by the FIA’s superlicence regulations.

That, though, may have been Herta’s only shot at a Formula 1 race seat as Marko says they are no longer interested in the “relatively old” 23-year-old.

“He doesn’t have the experience either,” Marko added. “That would have fit in with us a year ago. But now that’s off the table.”

Red Bull will make the call on their 2024 AlphaTauri line up come the end of the season with Red Bull junior Liam Lawson also in the running to partner Tsunoda.

“After the end of the season we will evaluate how things will continue without burning Liam,” he said.

Read next: Glimmer of hope for Max Verstappen’s rivals with the driver set to be penalised