‘S**thouse on wheels’ lambasted for role in painfully short F1 career

Michelle Foster
Cars line up on F1 starting grid for practice starts

Cars line up on F1 starting grid for practice starts.

Nyck de Vries never had a “fair chance” at AlphTauri as he was given a “s**thouse on wheels” before the team’s late-season gains benefitted not only Daniel Ricciardo but also Liam Lawson.

That’s according to Dutch racing driver turned pundit Tom Coronel.

Handed a debut season by Red Bull after his one-off points-scoring performance for Williams at the 2022 Italian Grand Prix, much was expected from De Vries.

Was Nyck de Vries given a ‘fair chance’ at AlphaTauri?

But as the races went by without a point on the board, he was already a man under pressure when his scruffy Azerbaijan Grand Prix weekend ended with yet another crash.

He was axed by the team after the British Grand Prix, and replaced by Red Bull’s prodigal son Ricciardo.

“It only lasted ten races. I don’t think he had a fair chance and that he should have finished the whole year,” Coronel told formule1.nl.

“Nyck has made mistakes: also some bad ones, one hundred percent. But I did see growth. He just wasn’t able to show the peak and that’s a shame.”

Arriving on the Formula 1 grid in his late 20s and with a Formula E title under his belt, Red Bull motorsport boss Helmut Marko proclaimed De Vries could be AlphaTauri’s team leader ahead of Yuki Tsunoda.

“Nyck can lead the team,” was Marko’s vote of confidence. “We will see how it goes in practice next year, but judging by his experience and personality Nyck should be the team leader.”

However, Coronel believes this had a negative impact as it added to the pressure on his compatriot’s shoulders.

“Before the season, Helmut Marko positioned him as the leader of the team and Franz Tost also said that he was counting on De Vries to be there from the first qualifying.

“Nyck is not a talker, not a leader, but he should have said: ‘Guys, wait a minute, don’t forget that I need some time’.

“We know that Daniel Ricciardo had long been lined up behind the scenes, that he had a deal and had to drive as well. I think Nyck knew very quickly that he would not drive the entire season.”

De Vries was dropped in favour of putting former Red Bull driver Ricciardo in the car only for the Aussie to suffer a broken hand at the Dutch Grand Prix where he was replaced by Liam Lawson. The two both benefitted from AlphaTauri’s late-season gains with the AT04.

Gains Coronel says De Vries that could have seen De Vries also score points were it not for the early AT04 being a “s**thouse” of a car.

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“Those races could have also gone well for Nyck. He just needed a little more time than he got,” he said.

“I am absolutely convinced that everything would have turned out fine for him. Let’s not forget that the car he got was a s**thouse on wheels.”

He reckons De Vries was always a stop-gap for Christian Horner wanting Ricciardo in the car.

“He just waited and at a certain point, after Silverstone, said: ‘I’m ready now’. Nyck was actually an interim solution for Red Bull,” said Coronel.

“What I see clearly is that Christian Horner just wanted Ricciardo in that car and Helmut Marko opted for Nyck. The two men then simply made an appointment with each other.

“Marko said something along the lines of: ‘If Nyck doesn’t deliver in the first ten races, you get your way and we’ll put Ricciardo in’. That’s just what happened.”

Next year De Vries will return to the all-electric Formula E series with Mahindra next season, back on the grid in January’s opening round in Mexico City.

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