Schumacher and de Vries engaged in a fierce battle for a Formula 1 cockpit, but it was de Vries who emerged victorious. Red Bull consultant Helmut Marko revealed in a podcast why they ultimately decided against Mick Schumacher, ditching the German for the Dutchman.
The decision came down to a straightforward choice for AlphaTauri: Mick Schumacher or Nyck de Vries. In the “Inside Line F1” podcast, Marko explained that they collectively opted for the Dutchman, despite AlphaTauri team boss Franz Tost’s preference for Schumacher.
Red Bull junior team
Since its inception in 2006 as Scuderia Toro Rosso, the team has provided a platform for young and talented drivers to showcase their skills and gain experience before potentially moving up to the senior Red Bull Racing team.
The team’s origins can be traced back to the purchase of the Minardi team by Red Bull in 2005. Red Bull aimed to create a junior team that would serve as a talent pool for their main outfit, Red Bull Racing. Thus, Scuderia Toro Rosso, later rebranded as Scuderia AlphaTauri, was born. The team’s name change in 2020 to AlphaTauri reflects the increased integration with Red Bull’s fashion brand of the same name.
AlphaTauri’s primary objective is to groom young drivers and provide them with an opportunity to showcase their talent in a competitive environment. Over the years, the team has seen several promising drivers pass through its ranks, including Sebastian Vettel, who achieved his breakthrough victory with Toro Rosso in 2008 before moving to Red Bull Racing and clinching four consecutive Drivers’ Championships.
One of the team’s defining moments came in 2008 when Sebastian Vettel secured Toro Rosso’s first race win at the Italian Grand Prix. The 2020 season saw the emergence of Pierre Gasly as a standout driver, with the Frenchman securing a sensational victory at the Italian Grand Prix, the second victory for the junior squad.
It was a poignant moment for both Gasly and the team, highlighting their potential to challenge the established front-runners. Factors such as winning potential obviously being factors in Red Bull’s driver selection process.
Marko explains decision not to hire Mick Schumacher
Marko clarified that Schumacher’s affiliation with the Ferrari academy throughout his career, coupled with his prior experience in Formula 1, made him less compatible with AlphaTauri as a junior team.
The key distinction between de Vries and Schumacher, according to Marko, was that de Vries had only participated in one race, but it was a highly successful one at Monza.
“The difference between Nyck de Vries and Schumacher was that he [de Vries] only had one race – a very successful one in Monza. So he fitted into our philosophy with the junior team,” Marko said.
AlphaTauri boss wanted to hire Schumacher
“Franz Tost wanted Mick Schumacher,” explains Marko.
AlphaTauri was planning to use Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda for its 2023 F1 campaign. However, due to the circumstances surrounding Fernando Alonso and Oscar Piastri, Gasly found an opportunity with Alpine, which was approved by Red Bull. This left a vacancy at AlphaTauri.
“It was like this,” says Tost in the interview, “that Mick Schumacher didn’t get a cockpit for this year. With us it was then open after this Pierre Gasly story came to light, because for me it was actually originally clear that our driver pairing would be Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda.”
“Then suddenly Pierre was given to Alpine, and that left us with a vacancy. Until Monza it was completely unclear who would be our driver. And then I logically thought of Mick Schumacher,” the Austrian admits.
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Tost closely followed Schumacher’s Formula 1 career and believes that he is much better than he is perceived by the public.
“Mick’s much better than he is currently perceived in the outside world” confirms Tost, but his proposal to bring Schumacher to AlphaTauri “was rejected. We are now racing with Nyck de Vries […] and there’s really nothing more to discuss,” “Mick’s much better than he is currently perceived in the outside world” confirms Tost, but his proposal to bring Schumacher to AlphaTauri “was rejected. We are now racing with Nyck de Vries […] and there’s really nothing more to discuss,” explains Tost.
Horner disliked Nyck
Interestingly, there were differing opinions within Red Bull Racing themselves regarding de Vries. Christian Horner, a significant decision-maker, was not a supporter of the 28-year-old driver Nyck de Vries, the youngster that eventually won the drive.
Marko acknowledged that disagreements over driver selections are rare but admitted that it sometimes happens. He cheekily mentioned that Horner’s reservations about de Vries now seem justified, hinting at the Dutchman’s underwhelming performance in the Formula One season so far.
“At the moment,” Marko said, “it looks like he [Horner] was right. He wasn’t a big fan of de Vries.”
Nyck de Vries has been regarded as one of the biggest disappointments of the Formula One season so far. The Dutchman finished ahead of his teammate Yuki Tsunoda in only one of eight races. In the championship standings, he and rookie Logan Sargeant are the only drivers not to have scored a single point so far.