Helmut Marko: “It looks like” signing De Vries was a mistake

F1, Red Bull Manager, Helmut Marko

Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko has spoken about the decision to sign Nyck de Vries for AlphaTauri last season, revealing that Christian Horner disagreed with the decision – before admitting that Horner was probably correct in his assessment.

Marko was one of the figures who led the pre-season De Vries hype heading into 2023, describing the Dutchman as the next natural team leader for AlphaTauri – as opposed to Yuki Tsunoda.

Despite Tsunoda’s reasonable performances last season, which saw him largely matching teammate Pierre Gasly, both Helmut Marko and Franz Tost seemed convinced that De Vries could elevate the team.

Even during pre-season testing, when speaking to F1TV, Tost mentioned that the feedback given by De Vries to the engineers over winter was invaluable, praising the 28-year-old for his input.

Unfortunately for the Formula E Champion, Tsunoda is proving to be comfortably ahead in almost every category – establishing himself as the “number 1” driver at AlphaTauri. 

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – APRIL 01: Yuki Tsunoda of Scuderia AlphaTauri and Japan during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Australia at Albert Park Grand Prix Circuit on April 01, 2023 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Peter Fox/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202304010286 // Usage for editorial use only //

Speaking in the Inside Line F1 Podcast, Helmut Marko explained the process behind Red Bull’s driver signings, revealing that Christian Horner did not agree with his enthusiasm about De Vries.

“The team management and the team principal, it’s a common decision. 

“Not often [does he disagree with Christian Horner], but sometimes we do. The last one, I would say, is Nyck de Vries.

“And at the moment, it looks like he [Christian Horner] was right… He was not a fan of Nyck de Vries.”

These are not the first critical comments that Marko has made towards Nyck de Vries, explaining earlier in the season that his difficulties to start the season could not continue.

Although Marko praised the Dutchman for a clean weekend in Monaco (despite Tsunoda being about 20 seconds ahead before his brake issues), indicating that the Red Bull advisor was hopeful to be proven correct about a signing that – as he reveals – was of his own making.

However, with eight rounds of the season complete, the chances of De Vries losing his seat in 2024 are increasing – as junior drivers like Liam Lawson and Ayumu Iwasa wait for an opportunity.

Franz Tost has come to De Vries’ defence, explaining that rookies in F1 need at least three years before getting up to speed.

Whilst these comments might be welcome support for the AlphaTauri driver, it seems unlikely Red Bull will give him a contract extension unless there is a drastic change in his form.