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Marko: No reason to delay dropping de Vries from AlphaTauri F1 team

Helmut Marko says there was no reason to delay the decision to drop Nyck de Vries from AlphaTauri after just 10 Formula 1 races because "the speed just wasn't there".

Nyck de Vries, Scuderia AlphaTauri

On Tuesday, AlphaTauri and parent team Red Bull announced de Vries would make way for Red Bull's third driver Daniel Ricciardo from next week's Hungarian Grand Prix, meaning the Australian will make a shock return with his former team halfway into his sabbatical from F1.

Explaining his decision to oust 28-year-old rookie de Vries after just 10 races, Red Bull advisor Marko said the Dutchman was not improving his pace deficit to team-mate Yuki Tsunoda in the manner that he and the team expected.

"We contracted Nyck because he performed great at Monza last year," Marko told Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf. "We expected him to be at least equal to his team-mate 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."

Marko added that de Vries' experience as a Formula 2 and Formula E champion means his performance was judged differently to previous under-pressure drivers like Tsunoda, who was handed an extended stay despite a troubled 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 explained.

"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."

Daniel Ricciardo, Reserve driver Red Bull Racing

Daniel Ricciardo, Reserve driver Red Bull Racing

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

Marko confirmed that Ricciardo's performance in Tuesday's Silverstone Pirelli test in Red Bull's current RB19 is what finally convinced the team that the 34-year-old is back to his usual self, having had to rebuild himself following his McLaren exit.

Marko argued Ricciardo will bring fresh energy to the Faenza team, which is languishing in 10th place of the constructors' championship and awaiting an off-season overhaul.

"Ricciardo's lap times were competitive during the tyre test, on three different tyre sets," said Marko. "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."

Additional reporting by Ronald Vording

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