Max Verstappen believes compatriot Nyck de Vries can be “exactly what AlphaTauri needs” in 2023, following the departure of Pierre Gasly.
De Vries has only made one Formula 1 start, a points weekend for Williams at Monza last year in place of the ailing Alex Albon, but Verstappen’s vast experience in other forms of motorsport will help him acclimatize to Red Bull’s sister. team for its first full season.
That P9 finish in Italy prompted AlphaTauri to rush for his services after Gasly was cleared to take Fernando Alonso’s vacant seat at Alpine, with the Dutchman due to turn 28 at the start of February.
So, despite not being Formula 1’s youngest signing, Red Bull motorsport adviser Helmut Marko said in October that he thought De Vries should take on Gasly’s role as team leader at AlphaTauri next season, alongside Yuki Tsunoda.
Verstappen understands Marko’s reasoning behind this view, but added that his talent and car savvy will be crucial in helping AlphaTauri move up the standings in 2023.
“In a way, I understand that,” Max Verstappen told the Dutch edition of Motorsport.com of Marko’s positioning of De Vries as a possible team boss.
“Nyck is a bit older anyway and has gained a lot of experience in other championships.
“Nyck might have to get used to Formula 1 a bit at first, like everyone else of course, but he knows perfectly well how to handle a race car.
“I think Nyck also smells the car quite well and that’s exactly what AlphaTauri needs. They lose Pierre there, of course, and because of that they need someone with experience in racing again. Someone who can get in the car and hopefully lead them in the right direction soon.
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De Vries entered Formula 1 as a Formula 2 and Formula E champion, in addition to holding two world karting titles from his youth among his other accomplishments in the junior series.
Alongside his role as Mercedes reserve driver, which saw him take on third driver duties with customer teams McLaren, Aston Martin and Williams last season, he was already well placed in the Formula 1 paddock, but his performance Substitute at Monza was what helped seal his place on the full-time grid this year.
Verstappen praised Marko for supporting his compatriot in such a way, saying it’s a hallmark of Red Bull to trust in talent when he shows it on the track.
“Of course I knew a moment before the announcement in Japan that the news was coming. It is of course a wonderful opportunity for him,” said the two-time world champion.
“He worked for it for a very long time and it’s good that the opportunity is now.
“After Monza, I think there was no discussion at all. And I also have to say: Helmut is the kind of man who just puts you in the car if he likes something, whereas d “Other teams are often more cautious. But that’s also what’s great about Red Bull. Anyway, I know Nyck very well, so it’s just fun.