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The pieces that came together for De Vries F1 seat in 2023

It's been an unconventional way into Formula 1 for the 2023 AlphaTauri driver, but Nyck de Vries has impressed at all the right points.

Nyck de Vries wasn't an obvious option for a 2023 seat. Despite becoming the first Dutch FIA World Champion after winning the 20/2021 Formula E championship, the talk of him getting a seat in Formula 1 didn't really follow until later. He earned early praise from Williams' Head of Performance Dave Robson for his runs during practice of the Spanish Grand Prix, with the engineer saying he's "worthy of a place on the grid." Further practice outings with Mercedes at the French Grand Prix was on the horizon, while Aston Martin also scheduled him in to take the place of Sebastian Vettel during Italian Grand Prix practice. He therefore had more than enough '2022 car' experience before being called up to substitute an ill Alex Albon on the Saturday before qualifying at Monza. What followed impressed pundits, fellow drivers, team principals and media alike as De Vries put in a points-worthy performance, something permanent driver Nicholas Latifi has failed to achieve so far this year.

Verstappen encourages call to Marko

Fellow Dutch driver Max Verstappen revealed that in the wake of De Vries' impressive performance at Monza, he encouraged his compatriot to get in touch with Head of the Red Bull's Driver Development Programme, Dr Helmut Marko, about a seat opportunity for 2023. "He's been pushing hard for it for a long time and to finally get that opportunity is amazing for him. But also, I think after Monza, there was no real discussion any more," he told media. "Helmut is the guy, when he likes someone he is daring enough to then put him in the car, whereas maybe other teams are a bit more careful. "We had a dinner the day after Monza and I told him 'Just give him [Dr Marko] a call. You never know what happens...' "It was the right time to call him, [as] Helmut is still probably excited on a Monday from the race on a Sunday, so it worked out really well." As it turned out Pierre Gasly was looking at the seat left vacant by Fernando Alonso (and subsequently Oscar Piastri), which paved the way for AlphaTauri to become an option for De Vries.

An AlphaTauri seat beckons

Initially AlphaTauri wanted to bring in IndyCar star Colton Herta, a way for the team to appeal to the growing market in the United States as F1 will have three races there next year. But the FIA later confirmed the American did not have the required Super Licence points, therefore stopping him from becoming an option for the Red Bull sister team according to Team Principal Franz Tost. "There were some talks with Herta but as he doesn't have a Super Licence and when the FIA said that they will not provide him with a Super Licence, it was clear that he was not an option anymore for Scuderia AlphaTauri," said Tost to media. "Although it would have been good from the marketing side, because to have an American driver with this good name I think would have pushed us forward in the American market. We are an ambassador for AlphaTauri and therefore this would have been a good possibility from the marketing side, but it didn't work and then we looked for another option." It was only over the course of the Singapore Grand Prix weekend that he signed his contract after being linked with several teams, but Tost explains that it was more than just his performance at Monza that made AlphaTauri go with him. "Monza was important, but it was not an eye opener. Nyck was on the radar before and [in] the special circumstances that other drivers left the [other] teams, Red Bull also decided not to race with Pierre Gasly from 2024 onwards. "All these components together brought us to the decision that Nyck de Vries is the best possibility and that he will fit quite well into the team."

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