Ex-F1 racer Martin Brundle said it was sad to watch Nyck de Vries unravel as he stumbled through the Red Bull exit door.
There was plenty of optimism surrounding De Vries when he took his place on the F1 2023 grid with AlphaTauri, following an impressive one-off outing for Williams at the 2022 Italian Grand Prix where he scored a P9 finish.
He was unable though to carry that momentum into his time at AlphaTauri, Red Bull placing him alongside Yuki Tsunoda at their sister team, and after just 10 rounds of the F1 2023 campaign, the decision was made to drop De Vries and send Daniel Ricciardo, who had served as Red Bull’s reserve driver, to AlphaTauri on loan for the rest of the season.
Martin Brundle saw desperation in the driving of Nyck de Vries
De Vries generally struggled to match the pace of his younger but more experienced F1 team-mate Tsunoda, while an unhealthy collection of rookie errors also did little to help his cause.
Brundle argues that De Vries, a Formula 2 and Formula E champion, is a better driver than what his performances were suggesting, but the desperation took over in those latter stages.
“I’m sad for Nyck because I know he’s better than that,” Brundle told Sky Sports News.
“People will often hear me say on commentary, it’s hard to get to Formula 1, but it’s even harder to stay there. Because on your way up, you’re all potential, and then suddenly you’ve got reality, and there’s no hiding from that.
“He’s not even had half a season, in what is quite clearly a difficult car – his team-mate’s a lot more experienced.
“Has it gone well for Nyck? No. Quite clearly to me, desperation has crept into his driving in recent races, quite a lot of desperation. He’s got into some skirmishes he shouldn’t have been in, and it’s just been really sad to watch because I think he’s better than that.”
Nyck de Vries another ‘casualty’ of Red Bull system
Brundle believes that De Vries was deserving of more time and support from Red Bull to turn things around at AlphaTauri, though knows this is not the way Red Bull operates.
Thus, De Vries joins the likes of Pierre Gasly and Alex Albon as drivers who Brundle says were “chewed up in that system”.
Nonetheless, he recognises that Red Bull also have three drivers in particular who serve as a clear counterargument to critics of their ways.
“We saw what he did as a super-sub at Williams, and in the end it hasn’t started well,” Brundle continued.
“He’s one of a long line of Red Bull drivers that have pretty much gone through the mangle and not come out very well.
“There’s a long line – Sebastien Buemi, Jean-Eric Vergne, Jaime Alguersuari, Daniil Kvyat, you can add Pierre Gasly and Alex Albon – of young drivers who just got chewed up in that system.
“And then quite rightly, Christian and Helmut [Marko] can say, we play you, Max Verstappen, Sebastian Vettel, Daniel Ricciardo, and any number of World Championships.
“It’s a difficult environment and they’ll tell you they won’t have it any other way because it works in the end, but there’s some casualties along the way and De Vries is another one of them.
“I think he deserved longer than that, but obviously you don’t know how he performs within the team or within the technical meetings. We’re not party to that. I feel sorry for him that he hasn’t had more time and more support.”
All eyes will now be on Ricciardo as he goes from recently testing the Red Bull RB19, F1 2023’s dominant challenger, at Silverstone, to competing in arguably the slowest in the AlphaTauri AT04.