Exclusive: Yuki Tsunoda defends under fire team-mate Nyck de Vries

Sam Cooper
Yuki Tsunoda and Nyck de Vries. Silverstone, July 2023.

Yuki Tsunoda and Nyck de Vries. Silverstone, July 2023.

Yuki Tsunoda said he believes Nyck de Vries is performing better than is being perceived as the Dutchman faces questions over his F1 future.

After 10 races of his maiden full campaign, De Vries is one of just two drivers yet to register a point with the Dutchman’s best performance being a P12 in Monaco.

All of this seems a long way from his super-sub appearance in Monza last year where he took the Williams car to P9 and there is increasing pressure on his F1 future, not least from the Red Bull hierarchy.

While the AT04 is no doubt one of the worst cars on this year’s grid, De Vries’ performances have looked worse in comparison to that of his team-mate Tsunoda who has regularly dragged the car higher up the grid.

But Tsunoda feels the public perception of De Vries is not fair and that he is doing better than many think.

“He understood quite quickly how to make the car faster, what set up the car wants,” Tsunoda told PlanetF1.com. “How he gives the feedback to the team is quite incredible.

“He looks from the outside like he’s struggling but I don’t think he’s struggling as much.

“Probably he just needs a bit of time and his pace is okay in the races. Just the experience more [of] how to drive differently in each compound, something like that.”

Even if his F1 experience is relatively small, De Vries has spent plenty of time in motorsport. He won the F2 and Formula E world championships and spent two years as reserve and test driver for Mercedes before joining AlphaTauri.

It is that experience that Tsunoda believes means he does not have to teach De Vries how to get the best out of a car.

“Set up things I don’t have to teach anyway because he is experienced enough. He won multiple championships in the past you know, he’s not young yet.

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“So I don’t think he needs my advice because in the end, we have to do it and each driver has their own way to improve themselves.”

De Vries’ arrival is not too dissimilar to Tsunoda’s who struggled in his first year in the shadow of the experienced Pierre Gasly. But Tsunoda said that he did not seek the advice of the Frenchman but instead focused on his own driving,

“I didn’t have any direct suggestion or advice from Pierre, I found my own way to up my pace and improve from.

“I think he [De Vries] will naturally improve anyway. If you want to improve you have to work hard and these are the things I do.”

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