AlphaTauri’s decision to replace Nyck de Vries with Daniel Ricciardo was prompted by a series of underwhelming performances, according to Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner. Speaking on the F1 Nation podcast, Horner shed light on the situation and revealed the timeline of events leading up to the driver swap.
De Vries, who joined AlphaTauri at the beginning of the season after impressing as a substitute driver for Williams in 2022, struggled to match the performance of his teammate Yuki Tsunoda. Or so the official rhetoric would have us believe.
Regardless of that, failing to score a single point in the opening 10 races of the season, De Vries found himself in a challenging position.
With Nyck de Vries himself recently hitting out at Red Bull to the media, Horner appears to be joining in the global conversation with their timeline of events reported by the official Formula 1 website.
For Nyck, the young Dutchman claims hes’ not at all surprised, but not because of his poor performances, rather the brutal style of which the Red Bull team operates in F1.
One of our favourite battles of recent times, Fernando vs. Lewis in Hungary! 🥊🔥
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Nyck de Vries hits out at Red Bull
de Vries has expressed his dissatisfaction with his former team and its decision-makers in the latest round of driver changes at Red Bull. In an interview with Italian newspaper Gazzetta, the Dutchman spoke candidly about his unexpected departure and took a swipe at those involved.
De Vries reveals that he was taken aback by the decision, allegedly stating, “In fact, it took me completely by surprise. I wasn’t expecting it.”
He also shared a surprising detail about his contract, claiming, “I signed a multi-year contract and was promised the second Red Bull seat in 2025!”
While disappointed, De Vries added that he wasn’t surprised by the approach taken by the team.
The interview took a more contentious turn when De Vries made a controversial comment regarding the 2021 title battle between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen. Referring to the final lap of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and the contentious safety car decision made by then race director Michael Masi, Gazetta claims that De Vries said, “I’m disappointed but not surprised by the way you stole Lewis Hamilton’s eighth title!”
De Vries’ remarks allude to the intense rivalry between Hamilton and Verstappen and suggest that the outcome of the championship was influenced by questionable circumstances.
Horner reveals when the decision was taken
Horner acknowledged the difficulties faced by De Vries, stating, “It was becoming obviously a difficult situation for Nyck De Vries.”
Despite the Dutch driver’s experience, there was a sense that he wasn’t meeting expectations within the team. This led to discussions about potential options for a driver change.
From Red Bull Racing’s perspective, Horner found Daniel Ricciardo to be the most intriguing option. The decision to bring in Ricciardo was made swiftly, and the Australian driver was confirmed for the Hungarian Grand Prix.
Horner: de Vries told ‘sooner than expected’
The timing of De Vries’ notification was sooner than expected, with Horner mentioning that Helmut Marko, Red Bull’s motorsport advisor, spoke with De Vries during the test sessions.
“It all happened a little quicker than expected, bearing in mind that we hadn’t completed the test,” Horner revealed.
“Helmut spoke with Nyck, and he was the one that obviously had recruited him. He was the one that spoke with Nyck about lap 11 of the test, I think.”
Regarding the possibility of De Vries participating in his home race at Zandvoort before being replaced, Horner explained that the decision to move forward with the driver change was motivated by the desire to give Ricciardo a full 12 races to showcase his capabilities.
“It’s very difficult. That would have meant obviously leaving him in the car until after the summer break,” Horner said.
“I think the situation was clear. It was a question of, okay, what’s the point in waiting? If we’ve got to do something, we might as well get on with it and give Daniel 12 races to see what he’s capable of.”