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Formula 1

‘I feel sad’ – Fellow Red Bull F1 outcasts on De Vries’ sacking

by Sam Smith, Alice Holloway
5 min read

The shockwaves of the fickle and usually brutal world contained within the Red Bull and AlphaTauri stables in Formula 1 are so powerful that they touch other and totally unrelated paddocks.

One of the main threads of conversation in the Formula E paddock, prior to news that Nick Cassidy was to replace Sam Bird at Jaguar, was the plight of 2021 champion Nyck de Vries and his recent exit from AlphaTauri before the halfway mark of his maiden F1 season t0 make way for Daniel Ricciardo.

There were several well-informed drivers who were empathising with De Vries – who now looks set to return to his old all-electric stomping ground in 2024, probably with a WEC programme in the other pocket, too.

Antonio Felix da Costa Red Bull F1

Antonio Felix da Costa has said pretty much all he needs to say about his experiences over a decade ago when he got to the cusp of F1 but was unable to get a foothold on the final rung of the ladder.

The Portuguese driver was picked up by Red Bull back in 2012 and, through strong form in GP3 and Formula Renault 3.5, looked first in line for any vacancies it would have in F1.

But when a seat did open up that was suddenly no longer the case – and Da Costa never seriously featured in conversation over a then-Toro Rosso F1 move after, although Red Bull did continue backing him for several more years – placing him in the DTM and making him an F1 reserve.


Back in 2020, Antonio Felix da Costa told us the inside story of how he came to learn he would not get the F1 debut he had gunned for – while his former team boss Julian Rouse offered his view on just why the Portuguese fell at the last hurdle.

A matter of hours before news of De Vries’ exit was announced to a surprised but not entirely stunned F1 paddock, Da Costa had taken to Twitter to share his opinion on De Vries and his future, whatever it might be.

“Honestly, I tweeted that in the morning of that, maybe six or seven hours [before]- I had no idea that was going to happen that day,” Da Costa told The Race.

“I had heard a few rumours but I heard Nyck would have had a couple more races at least, so maybe he would have gone even to the end of the year.

“Things change very quickly in this sport, especially under the Red Bull banner; we know how ruthless they are. I’m not saying it’s right or wrong, that’s just the way it is, we all know that.”

Da Costa described the decision to replace De Vries as “incredibly harsh”, adding that he himself had been “a victim of timing in my own career and I think, to be honest, Nyck’s timing hasn’t been great”.

Nyck de Vries AlphaTauri F1

“When Tsunoda was there and he was having all those crashes – and honestly I think Yuki is a great and exciting driver to have on the grid, but there was just no one to take his seat away from him so he kept crashing and they just kept giving him an extra chance.

“Unfortunately for Nyck that just wasn’t the case; with Daniel sniffing around and such a huge personality that he is, that pressure would have always been in there, also with Liam Lawson doing well as well in Super Formula, It just didn’t pan out for Nyck.”

Da Costa balanced his opinion with acknowledging that teams have certain agendas and pressures to deliver quickly, saying that “if you’re a team owner you commit to a decision, you have to”.

“But again, that’s not for me to comment on.

“I just feel sad for Nyck; you don’t win Formula 2 and Formula E and don’t know how to drive.

Nyck de Vries AlphaTauri F1

“I’m not too worried for him because I reckon he’ll be back on his feet. I think we can see him back here in Formula E and I’m pretty sure we’ll see him in the WEC as well.”

Another driver who has a right to a strong opinion on De Vries’ trials and tribulations is Daniil Kvyat, who is in Rome this week to take part in the extra ‘rookie’ free practice session with NIO 333.

Kvyat – the very driver whose emergence had denied Da Costa his F1 shot – told The Race that he thought that the De Vries chapter and his own situation with Red Bull and then the Toro Rosso a few years ago were “two quite different situations, of course, not comparable”.

“But it’s a tough environment, tough world, especially there in Red Bull, it can get extremely competitive,” he added. “That’s the way it goes sometimes.”

Daniil Kvyat Red Bull F1

Kvyat was placed in the main Red Bull team after an impressive rookie season at Toro Rosso but sidelined just over a year after that when Red Bull’s desire to promote Max Verstappen resulted in a mid-season demotion for the Russian.

The ignominy of another in-season axing – this time from Toro Rosso and thus the entire Red Bull F1 set-up – followed in 2017, and though he was eventually brought back for another two years in the junior team, it ultimately did not rekindle his grand prix career longer term.

“Perhaps yes [De Vries should have seen out the season],” Kvyat added. “I don’t know what the internal talk was, what was the internal expectation.

“I think they all know. I think Nyck has proved himself as a very high-quality driver overall – and sometimes in F1 there is just no time.”

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