De Vries: Bahrain GP was “kind of a good comeback”

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Photo: Red Bull Content Pool

The F1 rookie must have arrived to Bahrain feeling pretty confident, after his dream weekend in Monza last year – subbing in for Alex Albon at Williams Racing – led to a result that generated so much buzz around him that it was difficult to see him not on the F1 grid in 2023, though his seat in the end came from perhaps unlikely suitors AlphaTauri, who had found themselves without Pierre Gasly after the whole Piastri saga triggered by Alonso announcing his departure from Alpine. Many, including the Dutchman himself no doubt, considered his arrival on the F1 grid overdue at the ripe old age of 28 – practically middle-aged in F1 circles these days it seems. But how does de Vries reflect on his first race as a fully paid-up member of the F1 grid post-Bahrain?

He likely didn’t imagine his AlphaTuari debut to start with him 19th on the grid, struggling to keep the rear in check during Q1 and saying afterwards “I couldn’t quite get the tyres where I wanted them to be.”

Alongside him on the grid was the man he replaced – Pierre Gasly – starting 20th after his last lap time in Q1 was deleted, who then passed him off the line. However, a decent recovery drive had him up in 11th place by the time Leclerc’s stationary SF23 brought out the Virtual Safety Car and with a points finish within touching distance. Unfortunately the powers that be on the pitfall decided not to pit him for fresh soft compound tyres as those around him did which resulted in the AlphaTauri debutant being unable to defend his position and slipped back to 14th by the time the chequered flag was waved.

Speaking in post-race interviews, de Vries seemed in decent spirits and made some positive comments:

“I’m pretty satisfied with our race. Obviously, it can always be better, but after our first couple of days in the weekend, it was kind of a good comeback. Not only in terms of positions, because obviously there were some retirements, but also in terms of performance. I felt like our race pace was decent, we just missed out on the last busy pit stop which then left me out on the hards for many, many laps…but you’ve got to play your cards and ultimately I think it was a decent race for us.”

Photo: Red Bull Content Pool

Questioned about the benefits of getting a full race distance under his belt with his new team, he replied: “It was important to get the experience, get the mileage in and I think we did well…I was driving on the hard compound tyre for the remainder of the race, but ultimately, the mileage and experience will help us for the season.”

The Dutchman finished on a further positive note, and with a nod to the next race in Jeddah: “Given where we started, it was a good day because we could still fight some cars around us. Points weren’t possible today, so we’ll look ahead to Saudi Arabia, which is a bit quicker, meaning the midfield will look different again.”

Photo:Red Bull Content Pool