Nyck de Vries likens Max Verstappen to an ‘older brother’

2023 AlphaTauri driver Nyck de Vries has opened up on his friendship with double World Champion Max Verstappen.

The time has nearly come for Nyck de Vries to begin his 2023 Formula 1 season, with the Dutchman set to drive for AlphaTauri during the Abu Dhabi young drivers test, following the season’s conclusion.

It is remarkable to think that the Season Seven Formula E World Champion will be 28 years old when he makes his AlphaTauri debut in Bahrain next year, with the driver set to become one of the oldest rookies in modern Formula 1 history.

There is no doubt, though, that he fully deserves his seat, with De Vries being an incredibly talented driver, who perhaps just hasn’t had the cards fall in his favour until now.

After winning the 2019 Formula 2 World Championship, De Vries was unable to get a full-time seat in F1; however, he joined Mercedes as a reserve and test driver.

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As well as this, he partnered fellow Mercedes test and reserve driver Stoffel Vandoorne in Mercedes’ Formula E side, Mercedes-EQ, where he’s remained for the past three seasons.

De Vries, of course, won’t be returning to the all-electric series in 2023, due to his move to Faenza; however, had he not made the switch to F1, then he would’ve remained in Formula E but with Maserati.

Mercedes opted to use De Vries in both FP1 young driver sessions this season, with the Dutchman having also completed a session for Aston Martin and Williams.

Whilst he was rumoured with a switch to F1 for 2023, it was looking set that he would come up short, with Williams having been the only side interested.

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It was his last-minute debut at the Italian Grand Prix that has arguably saved his F1 career, after replacing Alex Albon.

De Vries was at Monza with Mercedes and Aston Martin, after driving for the Silverstone-based team in FP1.

It was then revealed prior to FP3 that De Vries had been called up to replace Albon, who was diagnosed with appendicitis.

De Vries put on the rookie performance of a lifetime, after making it to Q2, before finishing the race in ninth.

AlphaTauri immediately became interested in the 27-year-old, who will now be joining fellow Dutchman Max Verstappen in the Red Bull family, replacing Pierre Gasly.

De Vries has revealed that he’s known Verstappen his whole life effectively and that the double World Champion was like an “older brother” to him in Monza.

 “We’ve known each other since we were kids,” De Vries said on F1’s ‘Beyond the Grid’ podcast.

“We’ve grown up in the same era of racing. We – I think – approached karting and racing in our earlier years very similarly.

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“We both travelled around in a van with our dads. We just really respected each other and saw each other every weekend, pretty much. But strangely, because Max is obviously two years younger than me, we never raced against each other.

“Monza was actually the first time in our lives we raced against each other. Ironically, we even ended up next to each other on the grid. We were texting about it the evening prior to the race on Saturday evening and we were texting again on Sunday morning.

“On the grid, he came to see me and, as an older brother does, encouraged me a little bit, which was very kind – he’s been very supportive.”