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Nyck de Vries

Marko must take responsibility over de Vries failure

The Dutchman has lost his seat mid-way through the 2023 season, with Daniel Ricciardo set to replace him from the Hungarian Grand Prix.

De Vries Monaco Q
Analysis
To news overview © XPBimages

In the end, it was all rather predictable.

The square peg in the round hole was always going to be a difficult fit as Nyck de Vries's brief full-time Formula 1 career was ended, for now, by the man who gifted him the chance he'd been waiting years for.

Let us not forget that de Vries is a Formula 2 and Formula E champion and has driven WEC machinery as well as being the Mercedes F1 reserve. He is a versatile, capable driver but as many before him and many after will find, sometimes that is just not enough to survive the 'Piranha Club.'

Circumstances were against him from the start for a variety of reasons, but the undeniable truth is this: it was wrong for Helmut Marko to give de Vries the drive in the first place, and wrong to now get rid of him before a full season is complete.

Marko's responsibility

De Vries is a victim of the success of Red Bull drivers past and present.

Sebastian Vettel, Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo - the man who now takes his AlphaTauri seat for the remainder of the 2023 season "on loan" from Red Bull - have set the threshold ridiculously high.

One was a winner in a Toro Rosso, another won on debut for the team and the third took three wins in a debut season otherwise the personal plaything of Mercedes.

It is against these three drivers that anyone in the Red Bull pool is now measured and if it is abundantly clear you won't make the mark, then you are out and the next cab off the rank given a go.

De Vries' golden opportunity came in the 2022 Italian Grand Prix, subbing in on Saturday morning for an appendicitis-stricken Alex Albon.

This was at Monza - perhaps the track best suited to the Williams package with de Vries qualifying 13th, starting eighth and finishing ninth to bank points on his F1 debut. That piqued the interest of Marko who needed to find a replacement for the Alpine-bound Pierre Gasly.

Cue intense negotiations over last autumn before de Vries was announced. It was an odd decision given the team needed a non-rookie to partner Yuki Tsunoda - with Marko's decision seemingly being made on impulse.

De Vries had played straight into Marko's good books of 'jumping in something, driving the wheels off it and delivering instantly.'

The closest Marko would ever come to admitting 'I got it wrong' came recently when he explained that Red Bull chief Christian Horner was against signing de Vries in the first place.

But that's small comfort for de Vries now.

If the decision to sign him in the first place was an odd one, so is getting rid of him before the season is completed.

			© Red Bull Content Pool / Getty Images
	© Red Bull Content Pool / Getty Images

De Vries decision odd

The start of the 2023 season was as tough as can be for a rookie driver.

Bahrain was the only conventional circuit until the Spanish Grand Prix in June, during which time street races in Saudi Arabia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Miami and Monaco were held.

Azerbaijan was also the first F1 sprint event of the season, meaning only one practice session was available to de Vries during his first visit to Baku in Grand Prix machinery.

Fellow rookies Logan Sargeant and Oscar Piastri also largely struggled during this early run, but as the season heads back to more familiar circuits such as the Red Bull Ring and Silverstone, those two drivers have started to put in some impressive performances.

At Silverstone on Sunday, Piastri was only denied a podium by the Safety Car timing, claiming fourth as Sargeant took 11th in his best showing so far. Both of those drivers were given the time they needed to adapt, the pressure taken off and now have forward momentum with which to attack.

As for AlphaTauri and de Vries - the same cannot be said.

This is a team drifting at the moment, with no real sense of purpose, although the impending arrivals of Peter Bayer and Laurent Mekies give some optimism of better times ahead.

AlphaTauri traditionally struggle over regulation changes, with the team only scoring two points this season, following a slide from sixth and 142 points in 2021 to ninth and only 35 in '22.

The sizeable Silverstone upgrade did not work, with Tsunoda 16th and de Vries 17th with out-going boss Franz Tost also saying in Saudi Arabia that he "did not trust" his engineers after the poor start.

That is not a welcoming environment for a rookie - even one as versatile as de Vries. How can he even begin to prosper and knuckle down if the boss launches such extraordinary broadsides against his own team?

In the end, as soon as the first murmurs of de Vries receiving the hurry up from Marko, this outcome was inevitable.

De Vries deserved at least a full season to bed himself in, but unfortunately for him, he went to the one team where he was not going to get that opportunity.

Marko must realise that not all drivers can be plugged and played as if they are simply batteries. Each is different and with a little bit of TLC can germinate into a capable and handy driver.

But the harsh approach has been fruitful in finding Vettel, Verstappen and Ricciardo, so why would he change that well-trodden path now?

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