Nyck de Vries is in his rookie F1 year but has plenty of racing miles under his belt. He won the 2020-2021 Formula E championship, and before that F2 and World Karting titles. De Vries made a single race appearance for Williams at the 2022 Italian Grand Prix, a substitute for an unwell Alex Albon. De Vries is a rookie in name only, his racing experience is beyond question. But driving a Formula One car is a step up from any other open-wheel racing category, talent, and skill is not enough, they are a prerequisite.
While de Vries put in a strong performance at the 2022 Italian Grand Prix, a performance that secured a full-time seat with the Alfa Tauri F1 squad, now the real work begins. He isn’t just driving for Red Bull’s B-team, he is driving for Red Bull’s romper stomper Mad Dog Helmut Marko. The Mad Dog sets very high standards and if drivers fall short of those standards he will make it known.
The Mad Dog is indiscreetly direct towards his underperforming drivers. Usually, the Mad Dog waits for a few races before passing judgment. Worryingly for de Vries, the criticisms have already begun in the run-up to the second race in Saudi Arabia. Much was expected of de Vries, but he was out-qualified and out-raced by a battle-hardened Yuki Tsunoda.
While de Vries put in a consistent race performance, the Mad Dog expects his new signing to step up a level going forward. Speaking to German media recently, the Mad Dog explained:
“Nyck has a wealth of experience, even though he is still officially a rookie. There were definitely positive things, but by now he also realises that this is a different team. The idea now is for him to focus on his own performance.”
“Staying in Formula 1 is the starting point first. To become a candidate for Red Bull, there really has to be an extraordinary performance.”
“Only one race has been driven yet. We shouldn’t want to know everything already for the future either. Give him a chance. His way of working is fine, as is his approach. But what I said: he has to start delivering now.”
While the mad dog is understanding, he is also expecting Nyck de Vries to prove himself over the course of a season if he is to extend his stay in F1. For de Vries, the Mad Dog’s psychological war of terror has begun, and it is starting earlier than many expected.