Helmut Marko explains why Nyck de Vries ‘should be AlphaTauri team leader’

Jon Wilde
Nyck de Vries talking to Pierre Gasly. Monza September 2022.

Nyck de Vries talking to Pierre Gasly at the Italian Grand Prix. Monza September 2022.

Even though Nyck de Vries will be a rookie, Helmut Marko thinks he can establish himself as the lead AlphaTauri driver in 2023.

And that would surely be bad news for the career prospects of his team-mate, Yuki Tsunoda.

De Vries was not the number one choice as AlphaTauri’s replacement for Alpine-bound Pierre Gasly, that instead having been Colton Herta until the IndyCar racer was denied an FIA Super Licence.

Attention then turned to De Vries, who will be 28 by the time he tests the 2023 AlphaTauri car for the first time but has only just received his big Formula 1 breakthrough after capturing the F2 title in 2019 at the third attempt.

Since then, the Dutchman has focused on racing for Mercedes in Formula E, winning the World Championship in that series in 2021.

He has also garnered experience in sportscar racing and, according to Red Bull advisor Marko, has the knowhow to push the team forward next year to a perhaps greater extent than Tsunoda, who is five years his junior.

Asked if he sees De Vries as team leader material, Marko told Motorsport.com: “Absolutely. Yuki is still young and doesn’t have that experience technically, so Nyck can lead the team.

“We will see how it goes in practice next year, but judging by his experience and personality Nyck should be the team leader.”

Can Nyck de Vries take Yuki Tsunoda’s measure straight away?

If De Vries’ performance when he deputised for Alex Albon at Williams in the Italian Grand Prix is an accurate guide, he could become AlphaTauri’s main man in 2023 and even a seamless successor to Gasly.

Finishing ninth at Monza entirely on merit, De Vries looked like a seasoned veteran rather than a debutant as he raced competently in the midst of a DRS train – increasing the team’s points total for the campaign by 50% in the process.

Even though he only looks half his 27 years, the diminutive driver who hails from a small village in the northern Netherlands comes across as an extremely mature, grounded and intelligent person who displays the right mixture of confidence and humility.

We can certainly expect De Vries to produce far fewer, if any, of the histrionics associated by Tsunoda in the cockpit during his near-two seasons in F1 so far.

If anything, given the ruthlessness shown by Marko and Red Bull over time, it can perhaps be considered a surprise that Tsunoda is being given a third year because not only has he failed to live up to the big reputation with which he arrived in F1, but he does not appear to be progressing at any rate of knots.

And should De Vries be the one who steps up and fulfils the number one driver role, it is hard to see Tsunoda being allowed a further chance in 2024.

Read more: A third year for Yuki Tsunoda, but history points to an ominous future