Tost expecting De Vries to be up to speed in F1 after ‘a couple of tests’ as he opens up on decision to sign Dutchman
AlphaTauri will field a new line-up in 2023, with Yuki Tsunoda set to be joined by Dutch racer Nyck de Vries, as Pierre Gasly departs for Alpine – with Team Principal Franz Tost opening up on the decision to sign the 2019 F2 champion.
The announcement ahead of Saturday’s running at the Japanese Grand Prix that Gasly would be heading to Alpine for 2023 was swiftly followed by AlphaTauri confirming that De Vries – who enjoyed a points-scoring Grand Prix debut for Williams in place of Alex Albon at Monza last month – would take his place at the team.
Asked why AlphaTauri had gone for De Vries, Tost replied matter-of-factly: “Because he is fast. I know his history, I saw him in karting – he won, I think it was in 2010-11 the European and the World Championship in karting, then he was really successful in all the categories where he raced.
“He won in Formula Renault, he won in GP3, he won in Formula 2. He won also the Formula E World Championship and therefore I think he is a very high-skilled driver and he deserves to be in Formula 1 and we’re really looking forward to have him in our car.”
Tost also revealed that De Vries’s Monza debut had played an important, but not definitive, role in AlphaTauri’s decision to sign him, saying: “It was important but it was not an eye-opener. Nyck was on the radar also before and the special circumstances that other drivers left the teams, then that Red Bull also decided not to race with Pierre Gasly – this is what they announced.
“All these components together brought us to the decision that Nyck de Vries is the best possibility and that he will fit quite well to the team.”
Asked whether any Red Bull juniors had been considered for the drive alongside Tsunoda, Tost replied: “All the Red Bull young drivers were taken into consideration. There’s Liam Lawson, there’s [Ayumu] Iwasa, there’s [Dennis] Hauger in Formula 2, then [Isack] Hadjar in Formula 3, but they all miss still experience, they need to do another year or two in their categories and then we’ll see what the future will bring.”
Tost, meanwhile, has often repeated his belief that drivers coming into Formula 1 need three years of experience to get up to speed with the sport.
But with 27-year-old De Vries’s wealth of experience in single-seaters – alongside the fact that he’s already completed significant mileage in Formula 1 machinery, given his role as Mercedes reserve and following on from his Grand Prix debut in Monza – Tost said he expected that acclimatisation period to be significantly reduced for the Dutchman.
“I expect that this learning period for Nyck will be reduced to [a] couple of tests,” said Tost. “That means, I expect him to be very competitive from the first race onwards.”