Nyck de Vries accused by rival of getting ‘desperate’ in fight to save F1 future

Oliver Harden
Nyck de Vries frown. Azerbaijan April 2023

AlphaTauri driver Nyck de Vries frown. Azerbaijan April 2023

Kevin Magnussen has claimed Nyck de Vries’ aggression at the Austrian Grand Prix came from a place of desperation as the AlphaTauri driver fights for his F1 future.

De Vries and Magnussen have frequently clashed on track in recent weeks, with a battle at the Canadian GP ending with both drivers taking to the escape road and losing masses of time.

The pair were reunited in Austria, where Magnussen slowed in front of De Vries to convey his disapproval after an apparent impeding incident during qualifying.

Pressure rising on Nyck de Vries

In the race, meanwhile, Magnussen was heard complaining that De Vries had “completely pushed me off” when the Haas driver launched an overtake at Turn 4 following the Safety Car restart, before Magnussen ended up in the gravel after trying a move around the outside of Turn 6 later in the race.

De Vries was handed a five-second penalty and two points on his licence for that incident, having escaped punishment for each of the earlier incidents, and was eventually classified 17th – one spot ahead of Magnussen.

With Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko admitting ahead of the Austrian GP that Christian Horner’s reservations over the signing of De Vries are currently being proven right, the Dutchman is under increasing pressure at AlphaTauri.

And speaking after the race, Magnussen believes De Vries’ aggression on track is a reflection of his insecure status within the Red Bull camp.

According to Autosport, he said: “He got a penalty, right? So he did push me off.

“But he’s racing for his future, and [is] maybe in a bit of a desperate situation. There’s nothing I can say, really. He got a penalty, so it is what it is.”

Despite making no contact with the Haas at Turn 6, De Vries – who remains without a point after nine races of 2023 – took his penalty on the chin, likening his clash with Magnussen to two separate incidents from last month’s Spanish GP involving Yuki Tsunoda and Guanyu Zhou and Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz.

He said: “We happen to like each other when it comes to meeting each other on track! But I think it was hard racing.

“I’ll take the penalty. It’s not my entitlement to judge on that. The stewards gave me a penalty, and we took it. It’s a little bit irrelevant what I think, I am not the person who decides whether I should get a penalty for it or not.

“We race hard, we’re trying to find the limits, and sometimes it’s beyond, sometimes it’s below, and I got a five-second penalty for it.

“These situations, I think they happen. Obviously, with Yuki and Zhou [and] with Max and Carlos, and they happen all the time.

“Each situation is judged slightly differently and it’s not so black and white. So obviously we understand the rules, but you’ve got to push to the limit of the rules to make sure you don’t lose out and sometimes you go beyond, and sometimes you undershoot.”

Anyone else think the Nyck de Vries penalty was harsh?

On a day when several drivers were hit with penalties for going ever-so-slightly over the white lines at the final two corners at the Red Bull Ring, it would be churlish to claim that De Vries’ was the most unfair of all.

Yet it did leave a sour taste in the mouth and felt quite reminiscent of the most outrageous penalty of recent times, also handed out at this circuit.

Cast your mind back to the Austrian GP of 2021, when upon a Safety Car restart Sergio Perez tried his luck around the outside of Lando Norris at Turn 4.

There was no contact between them at any stage as Norris simply held his line and Perez – having willingly placed his car in a compromised position – drove on into the gravel and tumbled down the order.

Yet Norris, like De Vries, was given a five-second penalty for… for what exactly? For defensive driving? For the slightest possibility of contact? For minding his own business?

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And his trip through the gravel clearly did not put off Perez, who tried the exact same move against George Russell in 2022 and got the same result (Russell was penalised for actually making contact on that particular occasion).

Rewatch Sunday’s incident and the similarities to 2021 are striking, De Vries holding his line as Magnussen hung on around the outside, putting himself at the mercy of his rival.

Magnussen, like Perez before him, lived by the sword and died by the sword.

Just as Norris’s complaints about Lewis Hamilton sparked the track limits farce that marred the Austrian GP, it did feel as though De Vries only got a penalty because Magnussen – voicing his dissatisfaction over team radio – effectively asked for one.

And as he continues to fight for his F1 future, maybe De Vries’ willingness to take his punishment lying down with no pushback whatsoever hinted that he simply lacks the personality to survive in this most unforgiving of environments.

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