From 2023 onwards in F1, there will be two Dutch drivers on the grid with reigning world champion Max Verstappen and his compatriot Nyck de Vries driving for AlphaTauri in his first season as a regular. Both drivers have known each other since their early days in karting.
Nyck de Vries and Max Verstappen have known each other since they were children and have been driving together during their karting years, but the two men have never raced against each other due to their different birth years, and it was not until the 2022 Italian Grand Prix that they were finally entered in the same race.
The relationship between De Vries and Verstappen has always been very friendly, and indeed it was the Red Bull driver who advised De Vries to call Dr Helmut Marko the day after his Italian GP stint with the Williams team to discuss his potential future in Formula One as a regular.
We raced together as kids
Asked about his relationship with his compatriot, Nyck de Vries told the Beyond the Grid podcast: “We’ve known each other since we were kids. We grew up at the same time and we approached – I think – karting and racing in our early years in a very similar way.”
“We both travelled in a van with our dads [to go to karting races]. We really respected each other and saw each other almost every weekend. But strangely, because Max is two years younger than me, we never raced against each other.”
“Monza [the 2022 Italian GP] was actually the first time in our lives that we raced against each other. Ironically, we were side by side on the grid [Verstappen was penalised that day]. We actually texted each other about it the night before the race on Saturday night and again on Sunday morning.”
“On the grid [before the start] he came up to me like an older brother would, he encouraged me, which was very nice, he was very supportive,” added De Vries.
Sensational debut at Monza
During the Italian Grand Prix at Monza, Nick de Vries was called in at the last minute by the Williams team to replace Alex Albon who was hospitalised with appendicitis.
De Vries slipped into the Williams suit and jumped into the car for FP3 of the Italian GP before qualifying in the top ten in the qualifying session and finishing ninth on Sunday when the chequered flag flew.
Nyck de Vries’ superb performance at the Italian Grand Prix obviously left no one in the paddock in any doubt of his racing credentials, and it was with the Red Bull squad the Dutchman will race in 2023 at Alpha Tauri.
Looking back on his Formula One debut at Monza, de Vries says: “The weekend itself was fantastic and flew by. It was a dream come true. What happened afterwards I couldn’t really imagine,
“On Monday afternoon I was back to reality myself pretty quickly; I am now busy with the future. But all the messages and congratulations I received were very special. It’s nice to get the support from everyone,” de Vries says happily.