George Russell criticises Helmut Marko’s handling of De Vries

George Russell believes the treatment of Nyck de Vries was unfair, criticising Helmut Marko for his management of the Dutchman. In uniquely Red Bull fashion, there has been a whirlwind of news surrounding AlphaTauri and their F1 drivers in the last eighteen months.

De Vries was built up tremendously by Red Bull’s management over the winter, with Helmut Marko suggesting he could be a “team leader” in 2023.

The 28-year-old’s reputation declined rapidly, struggling to adapt in the early rounds and failing to match the efforts of an increasingly reliable Yuki Tsunoda.

Although AlphaTauri’s pace limited De Vries’ chances to score points (and the struggles he faced are normal for a rookie), the expectations surrounding him were not compatible with his initial results.

Helmut Marko confirmed in June that Christian Horner was never on board with this year’s AlphaTauri line-up. It seems the lack of cohesion has contributed to such trigger-happy decisions.

Speaking to the media, George Russell gave his assessment:

“Obviously, we know how Red Bull operates, and you need to respect how they do things,” racingnews365 quotes him as saying.

“I mean, I didn’t follow Nyck closely during his time at AlphaTauri, but I saw the reports and things that Helmut said, and it is a difficult place to go if you’re lacking confidence.

“For sure, they didn’t help him to gain confidence starting the season by saying he’s going to be the leader of the team for he is a rookie.

“It doesn’t matter that he is 27 or 28 years old. He is a Formula 1 rookie.

“And you can’t go in telling the rookie that you are the leader of the team just because you’ve raced in more championships than your teammate.

“He was in a difficult position from when he started, so I do feel bad for him. He is Formula 1 level – but didn’t get the opportunity that he deserved.”

AlphaTauri Team Principal, Franz Tost & Red Bull Advisore, Helmut Marko
MONTREAL, QUEBEC – JUNE 19: Scuderia AlphaTauri Team Principal Franz Tost talks with Red Bull Racing Team Consultant Dr Helmut Marko on the grid during the F1 Grand Prix of Canada at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on June 19, 2022 in Montreal, Quebec. Peter Fox/Getty Images/AFP (Photo by Peter Fox / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

Russell’s assessment is reasonable, given that nothing can truly prepare for the intensity and specificities of Formula 1.

De Vries’ experience (combined with his Williams cameo) likely earned him a contract. However, it also created the conditions for his eventual demise – regardless of his ultimate potential.

At any rate, with Liam Lawson replacing an injured Daniel Ricciardo, there are many reasons to watch the activity at AlphaTauri.

News stories will consistently cover the hectic movement in Red Bull’s driver academies, though 2024 could see a change in approach from Peter Bayer’s F1 personnel.

AlphaTauri’s growing costs have been outlined as something to address, and a less bloated driver academy is one way to reduce spending.

Author: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang