Red Bull advisor Dr Helmut Marko has tipped AlphaTauri signing Nyck de Vries to immediately lead the Faenza-based team, despite 2023 team-mate Yuki Tsunoda possessing considerably more Formula 1 experience.
Despite being 27-years-old, De Vries will line-up on the grid next season as a rookie, even though, he has years of motorsport experience under his belt.
The Dutchman is one of the unlucky few Formula 2 World Champions who failed to find an F1 seat after winning the junior category, which he did in 2019.
Whilst he failed to find an F1 seat in the last three years, he has worked incredibly hard with Mercedes as their reserve driver; he also spent time over in Formula E.
Formula E is arguably where he got his name back onto the market, as he claimed the season seven title with the Mercedes Formula E outfit, interestingly, alongside ex-F1 driver Stoffel Vandoorne.
The Dutch driver actually had a somewhat shocking season this year in the all-electric series, where he made a complete mess of trying to retain his crown.
Instead, Vandoorne claimed the title in what was Mercedes’ last year in Formula E, with the Belgian now lining-up for the newly partnered DS Penske next season, alongside ex-Toro Rosso driver Jean-Eric Vergne.
Weirdly, had Alex Albon not been forced to sit out the last two days of the Italian Grand Prix due to having appendicitis, then there is a very high chance he wouldn’t be sitting on the F1 grid next year.
An F1 side would be idiotic to have signed him based on his Formula E performance last season, where he couldn’t deal with the pressure of retaining a title; however, when the Williams seat at Monza came to him, he delivered in supreme fashion.
De Vries not only made it to Q2 at the ‘Temple of Speed’, but he also matched their best result of the season after finishing P9.
He looked like an F1 regular than an F1 rookie, giving hope that perhaps the more traditional circuits and cleaner races will suit to his advantages.
Marko has already pinpointed De Vries as the team leader next season, something it’ll be interesting to see if he can live up to.
“Absolutely,” answered Marko.
“Yuki is still young and doesn’t have that experience technically, so Nyck can lead the team.
“We will see how it goes in practice next year, but judging by his experience and personality Nyck should be the team leader.”
If next year goes well for De Vries, then he could be a serious contender to replace Sergio Pérez at Red Bull whenever the Mexican decides to leave F1.
Even if Pérez has no intention of leaving the Austrians anytime soon, one would have to imagine that De Vries is targeting a Red Bull seat in the future.
He can’t win the World Championship in an AlphaTauri, but he would have the car to do so at Red Bull; what remains to be seen is if his Monza performance was a one-off, or a sign of things to come.