Nyck de Vries hasn’t enjoyed the start to his F1 career proper that he would have wanted. But his out-going AlphaTauri Team Principal Franz Tost has publicly backed his Dutch charge, saying that De Vries’s experience in winning races and titles in other categories will stand him in good stead going forward.
De Vries came into F1 on a wave of hype following a stunning stand-in performance for Williams at the 2022 Italian Grand Prix in place of the ill Alex Albon – De Vries beating regular Williams driver Nicholas Latifi and taking P9, marking one of only five times the team would score points that season.
After that astounding debut, however, the going has been harder at AlphaTauri in 2023, De Vries with a best finish of 12th so far – while team mate Yuki Tsunoda has scored both of the team’s points, out-qualified De Vries 6-2, and finished ahead of the Dutchman seven times out of eight.
‘It’s really difficult for rookies now’ – Tost defends De Vries after tricky start to first season
However, asked about the performance of De Vries, Tost – who’s also mentored the likes of Sebastian Vettel, Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz – said: “I always say, it’s really difficult for rookies to come into Formula 1 nowadays.
“Why? Because especially at the beginning of the season, they don’t know all the racetracks. Nyck didn’t know Melbourne, nor Saudi Arabia, nor Miami, and in Baku [where De Vries crashed out] we had the Sprint race, which means that after FP1 there was already qualifying. This makes it, for a young driver who is… new to Formula 1, really difficult.”
Asked what he’d been saying to De Vries to keep his spirits up Tost – who is set to step down from his role as AlphaTauri Team Principal at the end of the season, with Ferrari Racing Director Laurent Mekies due to replace him – replied: “I said to him he should stay concentrated, he should stay confident, because we all know he can do a good job.
“He won races in Formula 3 and Formula 2, he won championships – he won the Formula E World Championship. That means he knows how to win races and win championships.
“He just needs to get the confidence – and we have to provide him with a good car.”
AlphaTauri are currently bottom of the constructors’ standings, with just Tsunoda’s pair of points to their name – Williams the next best team in P9 on seven points, six of which were earned by Albon at last weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix, as Tsunoda and De Vries took 14th and 18th respectively.