Nyck de Vries has said he is looking to make his own mark in Formula 1, and “time will tell” if the fervent Dutch fanbase will get behind him in a similar way they do with Max Verstappen.
Whole grandstands are set up at several races around Europe in support of the two-time World Champion, and the recent visits to Zandvoort and nearby Spa have seen fans effectively dress in a sea of orange in support of the Red Bull driver.
He also enjoys fervent support at the Red Bull Ring and the Hungaroring as Formula 1 travels around Europe, with Verstappen now being joined by a friend and compatriot in the Red Bull stable in De Vries, who signed for AlphaTauri for the year ahead.
With Verstappen having much more Formula 1 experience and having built a significant fanbase, De Vries is unsure about how much the home support will be “divided” between the pair, though he hopes to build his own presence on the grid this season.
“Time will tell,” De Vries said when asked about if he can gain a share of the Dutch Formula 1 support.
“Obviously, Max has done incredibly well in Formula 1. He’s dominating our sport at the moment and rightfully, the whole country is behind him and the Dutch are very excited about Formula 1.
“I’m starting my Formula 1 journey, and while Max will be continuing to fight for championships, I’ll try to make my mark in my way as well. Apart from that, I don’t know how much the support will be divided between us.
“Of course the fans are behind Max and now they have a second Dutch driver to cheer for!”
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De Vries will make a long-awaited step into Formula 1, four years after winning the Formula 2 title and taking the Formula E World Championship in between, alongside endurance racing and combining that with reserve duties for Mercedes.
His impressive substitute performance at Monza for Williams last year earned him a full-time drive with AlphaTauri this time around, and the 28-year-old is certainly looking to make the most of his rookie year, perhaps even more so due to his non-traditional route into the top tier of motorsport.
When asked what he is most excited about for the year ahead, De Vries said: “First of all, to get the opportunity to live my dream, but equally to be very excited and motivated to perform and to deliver.
“I think partly because my journey has been slightly unusual and longer, I’m even more grateful for the opportunity, more motivated to grab it and hungrier to show what I’m worth.”