Helmut Marko approach under fire after latest Red Bull driver sacking

Henry Valantine
Zandvoort: Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko in the paddock at the Dutch Grand Prix.

Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko in the F1 paddock.

Former F1 driver Giedo van der Garde believes Nyck de Vries was placed under “mega pressure” at Red Bull, and Helmut Marko played his part in it.

De Vries arrived at AlphaTauri last season after impressing on a substitute appearance for Williams at Monza in 2022, scoring points on debut and doing enough to put him on the grid.

He was replaced by Daniel Ricciardo after only 10 races, however, with the former F2 and Formula E champion having been expected to lead the AlphaTauri team in his rookie season.

Giedo van der Garde: Nyck de Vries would have grown

De Vries’ arrival, having already won multiple championships in other senior series alongside long-time F1 reserve duties, meant there was perhaps a higher weight of expectation on him than other rookies, arriving in the sport aged 28.

After his sacking mid-season, Red Bull motorsport advisor Marko explained as much to German media – telling Motorsport-Total: “What’s brutal about it when the performance isn’t right?

“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.

“We gave him a chance, and there are only 20 Formula 1 drivers. Not everyone can become that.”

Van der Garde, a former team-mate of De Vries for Racing Team Nederland in the World Endurance Championship, acknowledged that replacing him with Ricciardo has shown to be a correct decision “on paper”, but that does not tell the full story.

With the pressure placed on him from above by Marko, he believes that if he was afforded more time and space to grow, both Marko and De Vries would have been able to relax into a working relationship together that was more fruitful.

“A difficult question,” Van der Garde said to Dutch publication RacingNews365 when asked if Ricciardo proved Red Bull right in replacing De Vries.

“Purely on paper, then you will say yes. But that is not entirely fair. After all, don’t forget that the AlphaTauri was completely jerky at the beginning of the season and Yuki Tsunoda couldn’t handle it either.

“Nyck was struggling and was under mega pressure after just a few races. We know how difficult it is when Helmut Marko yells every weekend that it has to be better, that it has to be faster, that you have to be ahead of Tsunoda, because you are supposed to be the team leader. Then you snap at some point.

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“Of course, it is not normal to think that when you are new to Formula 1, you can attract such a team to you in one go.

“That takes six months to three-quarters of a year. But everyone thought after that one race in the Williams that he would show it, but it doesn’t work like that.

“It is therefore incredibly unfortunate that he was not given more time.

“It’s also a boy who sometimes needs a bit longer to show what he really has up his sleeve and I know how good he really is and above all how dedicated he is.”

Elaborating further on the topic, when asked if the Dutchman would have been able to contribute to the team’s improved points tally in the way Ricciardo and Liam Lawson managed when AlphaTauri’s performance got better, Van der Garde replied: “I think so, yes.

“He would have been better in his rhythm by then and maybe Helmut Marko would have been a bit calmer and more relaxed by then too, because there were some points on the scoreboard anyway.

“And when the team is more relaxed, you automatically start performing better. You become more one with the car.

“So I think what those guys showed, Nyck could have shown as well.”

De Vries will return to Formula E next season with Mahindra, combining that by driving for Toyota in the Hypercar class of the World Endurance Championship.

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