Nyck de Vries says his move to AlphaTauri was helped along by a dinner with Max Verstappen that led to him speaking with Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko.
AlphaTauri had been trying to line up Colton Herta as a replacement for Alpine-bound Pierre Gasly, but was unable to secure a Super License for the Californian. After that, it turned to de Vries and the Formula 2 and Formula E champion says a dinner with Verstappen after his impressive debut in Monza triggered discussions with Marko that led to his signing.
“Max and I have a great relationship,” de Vries said. “We are from a similar era — he’s a bit younger — we grew up in karting, both Dutch… The way he was approaching racing, going around in a van with his father, was like ours. We respect each other a lot. He is a world champion … the best in our sport at the moment.
“Even though he’s younger it feels like he has acted as my older brother. We had dinner after Monza in Monaco and we talked about the possibilities and opportunities and that resulted in having a conversation with Dr. Marko and we met that same week in Austria.”
Although it appears de Vries’ opportunities opened up after Monza, he says he has felt close to an F1 switch for some time, having been part of multiple negotiations over the past 18 months.
“I will admit that certainly Monza has speeded up a lot of the conversations. However, I’ve been kind of part of this F1 carousel for quite some time. After winning Formula E last year there was an opportunity at Williams and earlier this season there were several moments we were in conversations. I am a Mercedes reserve as well as a Williams reserve, so I have a good relationship there.
“I’ve always been in the background in conversations, then the Oscar (Piastri) thing and Fernando (Alonso) moved to Aston that kind of kicked off the silly season. I’ve always been part of that in the background but I guess Monza took any potential question marks and doubts away people might have had.
“Clearly the stars were aligned that weekend — the car was competitive there, there were grid penalties, retirements and without the safety car frankly we would not have finished the race due to right-front brake issues. So I’m very grateful for that moment also, to have my father close by and having him there to experience that moment together. The week after Monza I went to meet Dr. Marko in Austria — I was seen there so it became no secret anymore — and things went quite quickly from there onwards.”