Helmut Marko has never been one to mince words and he was characteristically frank about the reasons behind the recent sacking of Nyck de Vries. Quite simply, he was slower than his teammate Yuki Tsunoda and wasn’t showing signs of improvement. But why not wait until the end of the season? “Why wait?” was Marko’s response.
When speaking to the Dutch newspaper, De Telegraaf, Marko said, “We contracted Nyck because he performed great at Monza last year. We expected him to be at least equal to his teammate Tsunoda this year, but that was not the case. Actually, he was always three tenths slower than Yuki. We saw no improvement.
“We had to do something. Why wait, and what do two more races matter if you don’t see any improvement? Nyck is a very nice guy, but the speed just wasn’t there.”
If you’re thinking that is harsh, it is, but Marko explains that because of de Vries’ experience as both a Formula 2 and Formula E champion, his performance was judged differently when compared to Tsunoda’s own rough rookie season in 2021.
“He is 28, has a lot of experience and has also been able to gain a lot of knowledge as a test driver in multiple Formula 1 cars,” Marko added.
“You can’t compare him to a young rookie in my opinion. At the end of April in Baku, he started the weekend well and I thought he would perform better, but then he crashed again. Unfortunately, he didn’t do one super lap that really amazed us.”
This is where Daniel Ricciardo comes in, who allegedly performed several super laps during the Pirelli tyre test on each compound.
“Ricciardo’s lap times were competitive during the tyre test, on three different tyre sets,” Marko said. “If Ricciardo hadn’t had the speed, we would have needed to consider something else.
“But AlphaTauri is not in a good position right now and is last in the constructors’ standings, so we had to do something to change that. That often happens after a driver change and Ricciardo brings new energy to the team.”