Nyck De Vries has broken his silence on being replaced by Daniel Ricciardo, saying the brutal mid-season sacking “hurts”.
The 28-year-old Dutchman was sensationally axed after just 10 races in his rookie season with Red Bull’s feeder team AlphaTauri.
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Alpha Tauri is on the bottom of the constructors’’ standings with just two championship points scored by Yuki Tsuoda.
A week after he was given the flick, De Vries wrote on Instagram: “After recent events, I decided to take some time for myself away from social media, which I will continue to do.
“I would like to thank Red Bull and Scuderia AlphaTauri for the opportunity to live my dream.
“Of course, it hurts that the F1 chance I dreamed of for so long ended prematurely. But life is not a destination, it’s a journey, and sometimes you have to take the hard road to get where you want to be.
“I am grateful for our privileged lives, proud of our journey and my family. This is just another experience, we move on and look forward to the next chapter.
“Thank you to everyone for your kind and encouraging messages in the past week. It’s been heartwarming to feel your support.”
It’s rare for a driver to be sacked before F1’s silly season really kicks off in the mid-season summer break, but Red Bull’s big wigs had seen enough to replace De Vries with Ricciardo.
More details are emerging around Red Bull’s decision to sack De Vries and bring in Ricciardo, as speculation mounts that he is auditioning for Sergio Perez’s seat at Red Bull.
Ricciardo is said to have seriously impressed Red Bull team principal Christian Horner at a Pirelli tyre testing session at Silverstone, turning in lap times that would have been competitive at the British Grand Prix.
Horner has now revealed De Vries was effectively sacked by himself and Red Bull supremo Helmut Marko after just 11 laps of Ricciardo’s test at Silverstone.
“It all happened a little quicker than expected, bearing in mind we hadn’t completed the test,” Horner told the F1 Nation podcast.
“Helmut spoke with Nyck – you know, he was the one that obviously had recruited him – so he was the one that spoke with Nyck about lap 11 of the test, I think.
“It was becoming obviously a difficult situation for Nyck, but there was a high expectation on him because, whilst inexperienced in Formula 1, he’s obviously a very experienced driver,” assessed Horner.
“I think there was a general feeling that Nyck wasn’t quite hitting the mark. And then the question was, what are the options if we were to switch things around?
“The situation was clear. It was a question of, ‘Okay, what’s the point in waiting?’
“That would have meant obviously leaving him in the car until after the summer break.
Horner said it was a no-brainer to promote Ricciardo from his role as Red Bull’s reserve driver to see if he can show he’s still got it.
“If we’ve got to do something, we might as well get on with it and give Daniel 12 races to see what he’s capable of.
“From a Red Bull Racing perspective, the most interesting option for me was to see how Daniel performs.
“So that was the decision that was made. It all happened pretty quickly and here he is for the Hungarian Grand Prix.”
Perez’s contract expires at the end of 2024 and Horner said Ricciardo is a genuine option to replace the Mexican and become Max Verstappen’s teammate once again in 2025.
“At the moment there’s only something in place until the end of the season,” Horner said.
“Obviously our drivers are going to be Max and Checo again next year. But it’s always good to have talent in reserve.
“I think Daniel is viewing AlphaTauri, he firmly wants to be pitching for that 2025 Red Bull seat. That’s his golden objective. And by going to AlphaTauri, I think he sees that as his best route of stating his case for 2025.”
Ricciardo will suit up for his first F1 race in eight months this weekend at the Hungarian Grand Prix. The race is scheduled for Sunday at 11pm AEST.