Helmut Marko has shed light on the rationale behind the decision to part ways with Nyck de Vries after a mere 10 races into his debut F1 season.
Under mounting pressure due to a challenging start in the sport, the Dutchman faced further setbacks as he finished last among those still competing at the British Grand Prix.
Subsequently, the announcement was made that Daniel Ricciardo would assume the role of Yuki Tsunoda’s teammate at AlphaTauri for the remainder of the season.
This marks the conclusion of a lacklustre chapter in F1 for a driver who had previously established himself as a formidable force, impressing in championship-winning campaigns in F2 and Formula E, as well as showcasing commendable performances in the World Endurance Championship.
“We signed Nyck because he performed great at Monza last year,” said Marko when speaking to de Telegraaf.
“We expected him to be at least equal to his teammate this year, but that wasn’t the case. Actually, he was always three-tenths slower. We didn’t see any improvement.
“He is 28 years old, has a lot of experience and also a lot of knowledge as a test driver in various F1 cars. I don’t think you can compare him to a young rookie.
“At the end of April in Baku, he started the weekend well and I thought he was going to perform better, but then he crashed again. Unfortunately, he never once did a super lap that amazed us.”
The recent decision to alter the lineup for two races prior to the summer break appears to be a combination of severity and intrigue. It brings forth a sense of abruptness as well as curiosity, particularly in the case of Ricciardo, who finds himself back in a racing seat less than a year after being released by McLaren.
When questioned about the prompt responses from Red Bull and AlphaTauri in implementing this alteration, Marko stressed the imperative nature of the situation, underscoring the need for decisive action.
“We were compelled to take action,” Marko remarked. “Why should we wait and what difference do two more races make, if you don’t see any improvement? Nyck is a very nice guy, but the speed just wasn’t there.”
When considering de Vries’ prospects in the world of Formula 1, the Austrian further commented: “That will be difficult, I think. But at the same time, I think he saw this coming. He can build a great career in long-distance racing.”
Ricciardo’s elevation occurred on the very day he reentered the world of Formula 1, this time as Red Bull’s third driver. It coincided with his participation in a Pirelli tire test, marking his initial return to the cockpit of an F1 car.
“His lap times were competitive on three different tyre sets,” explained Marko.
“If Ricciardo hadn’t had the speed, we would have considered something else. But AlphaTauri is not in a good position, last in the constructors’ standings, so we have to do something to bring something about.
“That often happens after a driver change, Ricciardo brings new energy to the team.”