Fired Red Bull driver’s frank admission: ‘I’m not naïve, it just didn’t work’

Thomas Maher
AlphaTauri's Nyck de Vries on the grid at the 2023 British Grand Prix.

Nyck de Vries has opened up on his tumultuous time with AlphaTauri before his axing.

Nyck de Vries briefly realised his dream of becoming a Formula 1 driver, only for that dream to turn sour almost immediately.

Dutch racing driver Nyck de Vries, having had a long and successful career in Formula E, secured a drive in F1 for 2023 with Red Bull sister squad AlphaTauri.

This was following De Vries making a surprise F1 debut with Williams at Monza in 2022, when he stood in for the ill Alex Albon and, incredibly, scored points with a mature and mistake-free drive.

Nyck de Vries: I could sit and cry, but that won’t help

Making his debut alongside Yuki Tsunoda for 2023, it quickly became apparent that De Vries was going to have a difficult time getting up to speed properly in F1 despite the heroics of Monza the previous season.

Very quickly, the rumours and pressure on his shoulders escalated – particularly after a dismal weekend in Azerbaijan in which De Vries couldn’t avoid the barriers.

After 10 races, and a best result of 12th at Monaco, Red Bull pulled the plug after Daniel Ricciardo had an impressive tyre test with the RB19 – De Vries was out, and Ricciardo was in.

Since then, De Vries has rekindled his Formula E career and even briefly returned to college for some further learning.

Opening up in an interview with Dutch publication De Telegraaf, De Vries said he didn’t struggle to come to terms with his axing.

“I think I was able to put it into perspective very quickly,” he said.

“I’ve been hugely supported, altogether I think I’ve received about 4000 messages. That has done me good. I can sit in a corner and cry, but that won’t help anyone.

“Of course, it hurt. I don’t think that’s surprising. But everyone experiences good times and more difficult times. And yes, pain is also part of life.”

With Red Bull’s Helmut Marko, in particular, piling pressure on the Dutch driver’s shoulders – perhaps more than another rookie would have had, due to De Vries’ experience as a Formula E Champion and being that little bit older – he said the decision to pull the plug didn’t come as a shock.

“I didn’t get a lot of it and tried to distance myself from it as much as possible,” he said.

“But, at the same time, I can’t say that the decision came as a total surprise. I am not naive. Whether it is fair or just is actually totally irrelevant to me.

“Nor do I hold any grudge at all towards Helmut Marko or Daniel Ricciardo or his temporary replacement Liam Lawson. That is part of the business. I am very grateful for the opportunity I have been given.” recommends

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Nyck de Vries: I wasn’t quite there at that moment

Impressively, De Vries held his hands up and admitted he didn’t believe he had been up to the standard required during the 10 races he completed.

“I’m a perfectionist, so there are always situations and moments where in hindsight I think: I could have done that better,” he said.

“In the end, I think I wasn’t quite there, at that moment. It just wasn’t working. Formula 1 is something I dreamed of for so long and then it stops so soon. That is a huge disappointment. But it is part of life and also a bit part of the sport. That may sound very rational, but that’s how I really feel. I embrace the things that have come my way again now.”

De Vries confirmed motorsport remains his passion, despite his failed F1 experience, and said the world of racing encompasses far more than just the F1 paddock.

“When you grow up as a young driver, Formula 1 is your only goal,” he said.

“The crown jewel of our sport. But I have learned and realised that there is more than that. Personally, I enjoyed Formula E and the WEC immensely, so I’m looking forward to that immensely now. Motorsport is more than Formula 1, although I understand that the general public might see it differently.”

As for bouncing back mentally after the barrage of criticism from his employers, pundits, and social media, De Vries said he paid little heed to what was said about him online.

“I think that’s best too, because I have absolutely no control over that,” he said.

It is very easy to criticise someone from the sofa or with the phone in your hand. I also don’t find it necessary to start judging my own performance now.

“For myself, I don’t have to prove anything to anyone anymore. It happened like this, it is the way it is, and I will continue my career in other classes. I’m doing it for myself in the end, right? This is my career and I think motorsport is the most beautiful and fun thing there is. It’s my life, I’ll make it my own and sail my own course.”

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