De Vries was fired by AlphaTauri 11 laps into Ricciardo’s F1 test
11 laps. Eleven. That’s all it took from Daniel Ricciardo’s run at the Pirelli tyre test at Silverstone last week for Red Bull to pull the plug on Nyck de Vries’ F1 career and reinstall the Aussie in its junior team. How brutal is that?
De Vries - a Formula 2 and Formula E champion - finally got his big break in F1 with a one-race cameo for Williams last season, and his P8 finish earned him a full-time drive with AlphaTauri for 2023.
But the 28-year-old struggled to adjust, and a series of crashes and dismal performances compared to teammate Yuki Tsunoda left him in a vulnerable position only 10 races into the campaign.
And in the background Daniel Ricciardo - who had returned to Red Bull as reserve driver having been ousted from his seat at McLaren - had been impressing in the simulator, which then translated into the real world during last week’s test.
“What impressed me the most was - bearing in mind he hadn’t been in a car for seven months - within his third or fourth lap he was down to a time that was within a second of what our drivers were achieving,” Red Bull team principal Christian Horner told the official F1 Nation podcast.
“Then his first proper lap, on probably what was his seventh lap of the day, would’ve put him on the front row of the grid [at the British GP]. So that was hugely impressive.
“You could see the relief in his eyes, almost like the pressure release off his shoulders. That he could still do it, he wasn’t going mad and that the old Daniel was still there.”
Horner then explained that Ricciardo knew before the test that he’d be offered the AlphaTauri drive if things went well, and that his ultimate goal is to return to Red Bull in 2025. In other words: watch out Sergio Perez.
With Ricciardo proving that he was back to his best, someone then had to break the news to De Vries. “It all happened a little quicker than expected,” said Horner. “Bearing in mind that we hadn’t completed the test, but Helmut [Marko] spoke with Nyck… about lap 11 of the test, I think.”
Oof. Is this Red Bull’s harshest sacking yet?
STORY Joe Holding