Helmut Marko on ripping off the band-aid with De Vries: “We had to do something”

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Photo credit: Scuderia AlphaTauri

While the position of Nyck de Vries at AlphaTauri was far from certain, his sudden departure from Formula 1 still came as a bit of a shock, as Daniel Ricciardo was just halfway through his tyre test with Red Bull Racing when the news broke. It is believed that Christian Horner, not a fan of De Vries, called Dr. Helmut Marko, head of Red Bull’s driver development programme, with the message that Ricciardo’s performance was impressive. This then prompted Marko to take the immediate decision to fire De Vries and put Ricciardo in his seat.

Marko explained the decision to Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf: “Nyck was contracted because he had an excellent performance in Monza last year. We expected that he would be at least matching the performance of his teammate Yuki Tsunoda, but that wasn’t the case.

“He was three-tenths of a second too slow, continuously, and there was no improvement.”

The 28-year-old Dutchman wasn’t treated as a regular rookie, something he himself didn’t want as well, and Marko has his reasons to do so.

“He is 28 years old, has ample experience and has had the opportunity to gain plenty of knowledge as a test driver in various Formula 1 cars. In my opinion he cannot be compared to a young rookie.

“In April in Baku he started the weekend well and I expected him to perform better, but then he crashed again. Unfortunately he hasn’t driven a single lap that amazed us.”

This hasn’t been the first time that Marko has dropped someone from Red Bull’s sister team, and again it seems that Marko rather rips off the band-aid in one go.

“We had to do something. Why would we wait? And what does it matter if we kept him for two more races when you don’t see any improvements?

“Nyck is a really nice guy, but the speed just wasn’t there.”

And with Ricciardo waiting in the wings it wasn’t a difficult decision, especially after an impressive performance during the post-Silverstone tyre test.

“His lap times were competitive, on three different compounds,” Marko explains. “If Ricciardo wasn’t quick enough, we would have had to do something else.

“But since AlphaTauri is last in the constructor standings, so we had to bring about something. And usually a driver change does that. Ricciardo brings new energy to the team.”

Rumours that Ricciardo is brought in to increase the pressure on Pérez are dismissed by Marko, stating that it would be foolish to release the driver second in the championship.

“Checo is second in the world championship, so it would make no sense to get rid of him now. His race at Silverstone was good, again, but he needs to improve in qualifying.”

He added: “It remains to be seen how Ricciardo will hold up against Tsunoda. I think Yuki is underestimated by a lot of people.

“The AlphaTauri is a difficult car to drive, but Yuki has proven that it is possible to get good results with it.”

As for De Vries, Marko thinks there is little hope for him in Formula 1: “It’s going to be difficult, but at the same time I think he saw this coming.

“I think he can have a great career in endurance racing,” Marko concluded, a form of motorsport in which he himself has succeeded.