Has Nyck de Vries merely ‘bought some time’ with Red Bull after recent upturn?

Sam Cooper
Nyck de Vries, AlphaTauri, in the paddock. Bahrain, March 2023.

Nyck de Vries, AlphaTauri, pictured in the paddock. Bahrain, March 2023.

Dutch racer Jeroen Bleekemolen believes Nyck de Vries has merely “bought some time” after an upturn in his racing form.

De Vries is a man under pressure after an underwhelming start to the 2023 season brought into question whether he had a long term future in the sport. It was not just gossip either with Helmut Makro directly addressing potential exit rumours.

The Red Bull senior advisor denied that Daniel Ricciardo was being lined up as a replacement, instead suggesting that if Red Bull did opt for a change they would go for one of their junior drivers, but did issue an ultimatum to De Vries – improve by the end of the Spanish Grand Prix or you are out.

Whether that ultimatum was extended due to the Imola race being cancelled was never revealed but the Dutchman has performed marginally better, finishing 12th in Monaco and 14th in Spain.

But even with this upturn in form, he has yet to finish above team-mate Yuki Tsunoda and Bleekemolen believes De Vries has still not saved himself.

“He’s still having a hard time,” Bleekemolen told the Formule 1 podcast. “It is finally true that he had a normal weekend [in Barcelona].

“He had a pretty good qualifying and a decent result in the race. But he really needs to have a top weekend now to be able to turn it around. You can see that things are slowly getting better, but you prefer not to use the word slowly in motorsport.

“He has bought some time now after the past few weekends. That upward trend must really continue and it must go up considerably.”

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Bleekemolen also suggested AlphaTauri should have not billed De Vries as a potential team leader, insisting they underestimated Tsunoda.

“I think that’s inconvenient of the team, because then you immediately put that pressure on it,” he said.

“And don’t underestimate Tsunoda. He’s just really, really good and listen to his team radio, he’s fully on it!

“Maybe he is still too aggressive at times, like last race. But better that than too slow. This also motivates the mechanics and they also go a step faster. It just works that way in the end.”