Yuki Tsunoda compares axed Nyck de Vries to F1 legend in early exit assessment

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

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

Yuki Tsunoda believes Nyck de Vries deserved to hold onto his AlphaTauri race seat through to the summer break at the least with the Japanese driver applauding his former team-mate’s feedback.

Red Bull announced a week ago that De Vries, their newest signing, had been axed with immediate effect after failing to score a single point in the first 10 races of his first full year on the Formula 1 grid.

The 2020/21 Formula E champion was signed by Red Bull to their AlphaTauri squad but, as Christian Horner, was put more of a “stopgap” than a long-term prospect and as such when he didn’t show signs of progress was cut.

‘Nyck de Vries was like Niki Lauda in his details feedback’

In his stead the team promoted Daniel Ricciardo from Red Bull reserve to AlphaTauri driver after the eight-time grand prix winner impressed during his post-British Grand Prix tyre test with Pirelli.

But while many in Formula 1 are excited for Ricciardo’s return to the grid, spare a moment for De Vries who after 10 races with the Red Bull junior team has found his Formula 1 career destroyed.

His former team-mate Tsunoda counts himself amongst those who has sympathy for the Dutchman as he feels Red Bull should’ve given him at least until the summer break.

“There were rumours already so I was like not really surprised but still surprised what I heard,” he told the media at the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Pressed as to whether De Vries should’ve been given the two races between Silverstone and the summer break, the Japanese driver replied: “I think so. I think 10 races, there were a couple of tracks that he didn’t know so I think so.

“I think he did at least deserve until the summer break. I was thinking that.

“I messaged him after the news, and I told him him like what I felt and also my appreciation for him. And he gave me a really nice message back.

“So obviously we’re friends. And he’s really nice guy and respectful person. I can respect a lot of things from him.”

He added: “I think he was doing a pretty good job. I can tell from him lap time and how he behaved and how he was gradually building up the confidence. It’s a bit surprising.”

According to Red Bull, De Vries was a few tenths down on Tsunoda with no sign of improvement with Horner putting it as he “wasn’t quite hitting the mark”.

But according to Tsunoda, his team-mate had been giving exceptional feedback on what is underperforming car.

“Especially feedback after the session to the team how the car how the car behaves, he was very specific,” he said. “I’ve never seen that a driver saying very specific and describing every each detail.”

Asked to elaborate on how much detail De Vries gave, Tsunoda likened it to Niki Lauda’s input during his championship-winning days.

“How the car behaves through the corner, he starts from like braking, late entry, mid-corner exit,” he said.

“Obviously, I’m saying that each part of the corners, how the car behaves, but he’s a little bit more like he says the limitation, but also he suggests the kind of options to solve those issues. Also for future development.

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“What I got impressed by most was the last day in the Abu Dhabi test. He drove our car and he described how the front wing behaves through the corner, and he was saying almost spot-on, kind of in entry how much the front wing deflected through the corner, and that kind of flexion was making our car like this behaviour.

“He kind of guessed what the front wing does and he was spot-on what the kind of characteristic and what kind of design we’re doing for the front wing.

“I just saw Rush, Niki Lauda, he said really good feedback about the car. Probably he’s like a Niki Lauda.”

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