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Verstappen reveals advice he gave De Vries before F1 debut

The two Dutch drivers shared an F1 grid for the first time, as Verstappen gave De Vries some crucial advice ahead of his debut.

Max Verstappen has revealed he told fellow Dutch racer Nyck De Vries "not to stress too much" ahead of the latter's Formula 1 debut in the Italian Grand Prix. Following Alex Albon's appendicitis, De Vries was drafted in as a late replacement on Saturday morning, qualifying 13th but starting eighth following grid penalties for other drivers. This meant the two Dutch drivers started side-by-side on the fourth row following Verstappen's own penalty. Ahead of the first F1 race since the 2006 Brazilian Grand Prix to feature two drivers from the Netherlands (Christijan Albers and Robert Doornbos), Verstappen said he told De Vries to take things calm and to relax.

Verstappen told De Vries to be calm

Verstappen went onto win the race at Monza, claiming a 31st career win and fifth in a row, stretching back to the French Grand Prix, and post-race explained what he said to De Vries when asked by RacingNews365.com. "First of all, enjoy it, and don't think or stress about it too much," the World Champion explained. "I remember my first [race in Australia 2015], it happens so quickly, but I think more broadly, if you just tell yourself: 'We'll see what happens' instead of really stressing about 'I need a good start, or I need a good first lap.' "You shouldn't think about that, and I think he handled everything really well. "But yeah, it's nice. We know each other really well, so it was just a quick little motivation speech."

Russell weighs in

George Russell, who finished third at Monza also stood in as an emergency-replacement driver when Lewis Hamilton was sidelined in the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix having tested positive for COVID-19, also weighed in, calling De Vries' result "pretty spectacular." Russell had a season and three-quarters under his belt at the time, and although he couldn't emphasis fully with De Vries, he did point to the challenges the 2020/21 Formula E champion would have faced. "I think it was probably tougher for him to be honest than it was for me because I was obviously a full time race driver," he started. "Equally as well for him jumping from Aston Martin on Friday into a Williams, it's a different car and the seating positions are different. "I remember when I was doing testing with Mercedes and Force India, and driving in F2, it took quite a few laps to get used to a different feeling of how those cars reacted. "To score points on your debut in a Williams is pretty spectacular no doubt."

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