De Vries hoping to poach Verstappen support
By Ian Parkes
Sunday 12th February, 2023 - 10:32pm
Nyck de Vries is hoping to poach Max Verstappen’s incredible support as he joins his fellow Dutch driver on the F1 grid this season.
At the age of 28, De Vries finally gets what many believe to be a long-overdue shot at Formula 1 as he replaces Pierre Gasly at AlphaTauri following the Frenchman’s move to Alpine.
The 2019 F2 and 2021 Formula E champion forced his way into the thinking of the Red Bull hierarchy and AlphaTauri team principal Franz Tost in 2022.
De Vries enjoyed three FP1 sessions with Williams, Mercedes, and Aston Martin before making his F1 race debut with the former after Alex Albon sustained appendicitis ahead of final practice for the Italian Grand Prix.
A superb qualifying performance and a ninth-place finish in the race thrust De Vries into the spotlight, and now he joins close friend and two-time F1 champion Verstappen in motorsport’s top flight.
Verstappen has amassed a staggering following over the years, but as to whether De Vries can share that support, he said: “Time will tell.
“Obviously, Max has done incredibly well in Formula 1. He’s dominating our sport at the moment and rightfully, the whole country is behind him and the Dutch are very excited about Formula 1.
“I’m starting my Formula 1 journey, and while Max will be continuing to fight for championships, I’ll try to make my mark in my way as well.
“Apart from that, I don’t know how much of the support will be divided between us. Of course, the fans are behind Max and now they have a second Dutch driver to cheer for.”
De Vries ‘living the dream’
De Vries recognises his path to F1 has not been as straightforward as many of the rivals he will be racing against this season but he claims that is fuelling his desire to perform at a high level.
Asked as to what was exciting him ahead of the season, De Vries replied: “First of all, to get the opportunity to live my dream, but equally to be very excited and motivated to perform and to deliver.
“I think partly because my journey has been slightly unusual and longer, I’m even more grateful for the opportunity, more motivated to grab it, and hungrier to show what I’m worth.”
De Vries already seeking room for improvement
After being confirmed as an AlphaTauri driver in early October, the former Mercedes reserve has naturally faced a swift acclimatisation process with his new team over the past four months.
De Vries recognises it will ‘take a bit of time’ to forge a good working relationship even though he claims he has “been very warmly welcomed”.
“It seemed like everyone was very excited about my arrival and we certainly did everything we could to integrate me as quickly as possible,” assessed De Vries.
“I spent time with different engineering departments, with different people within the team, and we’ve also done a little bit more specific work on preferences, likings, on all sorts of things.
“I feel like we did a good job of using the time to welcome and integrate me into the team but at the same time, we have started to look at gaps where there is room for improvement which we needed to highlight.
‘We’ve used our time well in terms of the physical aspect and we’ve been pushing really hard. I’m just basically enjoying the ride and I’m very excited to start our season.”
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