The F1 ‘fighter’ who should not be written off after just three races

Oliver Harden
Lewis Hamilton leads the field on the way to the grid for a restart. Australia April 2023

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton leads the field on the way to the grid for a restart. Australia April 2023

Nyck de Vries has been backed to come good by a fellow Dutch racer following a challenging start to his Formula 1 career with AlphaTauri.

Having won the Formula 2 and Formula E titles over recent years, De Vries emerged as a serious contender for a full-time F1 seat after finishing ninth at last year’s Italian Grand Prix in a stand-in appearance for the Williams team.

De Vries was signed by AlphaTauri to replace the Alpine-bound Pierre Gasly for 2023, but has struggled in his first three races for the Red Bull junior team.

Outperformed by team-mate Yuki Tsunoda in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Australia, De Vries failed to reach the chequered flag in Melbourne after being hit by Logan Sargeant during the highly controversial second restart.

Despite the 28-year-old rookie’s tough start to the season, Tim Coronel believes De Vries is a victim of circumstance at an underperforming team – and has backed him to come out fighting.

He told the Dutch edition of GPFans: “Nyck doesn’t have a little bit of a difficult start, he’s just on the wrong side of the line right now.

“It’s on Nyck to get back out there, let’s put that first. It’s the worst team at the moment, the worst car at the moment, so just get out there and prove yourself.”

With team boss Franz Tost publicly critical of the engineers in Jeddah, Coronel feels the long break before the season resumes in Azerbaijan at the end of this month has come at a good time for AlphaTauri.

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“The spring break is a welcome break for the team,” he added. “Because what is happening now is not down to De Vries, it is down to the team.

“As a driver, you then have to sit still, keep fighting and keep doing your thing and that’s what Nyck is obviously going to do.

“I think Nyck is strong enough as a person.”

The Red Bull-owned team have a history of taking a ruthless stance towards underperforming drivers stretching back to their days as Toro Rosso, with the likes of Scott Speed, Sebastien Buemi and Jean-Eric Vergne dropped by the Faenza-based outfit in the past.

With De Vries fighting back from being dropped by McLaren’s junior scheme in 2019 to win that year’s F2 title and claim a place on the F1 grid for 2023, Coronel feels his compatriot has the resilience to avoid a similar fate at AlphaTauri.

He said: “AlphaTauri is a situation where you are not comfortable, that’s a fact. Then make it as pleasant as possible.

“There are two ways to do that. You can do something for it and you can do nothing for it.

“Nyck is a fighter.

“His whole life he has had to fight for everything and then he is in his role.

“We also gave him about three races, so let’s see what he can do next race.”