George Russell has stepped forward in defense of former AlphaTauri driver Nyck de Vries, taking issue with the way Red Bull’s Helmut Marko handled the situation.
De Vries was unexpectedly released from AlphaTauri’s roster ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix, creating a buzz in the paddock and prompting Russell’s critique of the circumstances.
The decision to part ways with De Vries marked a significant turn of events, as it meant that the Dutch driver had a mere 10 races in Formula 1 under the AlphaTauri banner before being let go.
The initial rounds of the season saw De Vries grappling with challenges, and the immediate pressure led to public criticisms from Helmut Marko, who is known for his candid remarks in the media.
Given De Vries’ age and extensive background in motorsport, many assumed he would play a leadership role at AlphaTauri.
George Russell, who previously competed against De Vries in Formula 2, criticised the presumption that age and experience alone would dictate leadership dynamics within a team.
Russell opined that the portrayal of De Vries as the team leader solely based on his age and experience was misguided and unjust, particularly considering that De Vries was new to Formula 1.
Russell candidly expressed, “I wouldn’t have expected it in any other team.
“Obviously, we know how Red Bull operates and you need to respect how they do things.”
He went on to discuss the impact of Marko’s public statements on De Vries’ confidence, stating, “I mean, I didn’t follow Nyck closely during his time at AlphaTauri, but I saw the reports and things that Helmut said and it is a difficult place to go if you’re lacking confidence.”
Russell elaborated on the flawed logic of designating De Vries as the team leader due to his age and prior racing experience.
“It doesn’t matter that he is 27 or 28 years old, he is a Formula 1 rookie and you can’t go in telling the rookie that you are the leader of the team just because you’ve raced in more championships than your teammate.”
The young British driver empathised with De Vries’ situation, acknowledging that the circumstances were less than ideal for a newcomer.
“He was in a difficult position from when he started, so I do feel bad for him. He is Formula 1 level, but didn’t get the opportunity that he deserved.”