Nyck de Vries will soon join Red Bull’s sister team AlphaTauri ahead of the 2023 season, and has opened up on a conversation that he had with Max Verstappen before his race for Williams at the Italian Grand Prix in October.
De Vries deputised for Alex Albon in Monza and managed to earn two points. More importantly, he was able to accrue some much-needed experience before his first stint in a full-time capacity.
Verstappen was one of the first drivers on the circuit to congratulate De Vries on the opportunity and offered some words of encouragement to his Dutch compatriot.
“We’ve known each other since we were kids. We’ve grown up in the same era of racing. We – I think – approached karting and racing in our earlier years very similarly,” de Vries said.
“We both travelled around in a van with our dads. We just really respected each other and saw each other every weekend, pretty much. But strangely, because Max is obviously two years younger than me, we never raced against each other.
“Monza was actually the first time in our lives we raced against each other. Ironically, we even ended up next to each other on the grid. We were texting about it the evening prior to the race on Saturday evening and we were texting again on Sunday morning.
“On the grid [ahead of the race], he came to see me and, as an older brother does, encouraged me a little bit, which was very kind – he’s been very supportive.”
Will de Vries divulge Mercedes secrets at AlphaTauri?
De Vries was earlier a part of Mercedes and there was some speculation that the 27-year-old driver may divulge some of the team’s secrets now that he is joining rival Red Bull’s sister team.
However, the Silver Arrows are confident that he will not do any such thing.
“We’re really pleased for him, for the opportunity he’s got. Maybe a shame where he’s going, but that’s what it is,” Mercedes technical director Mike Elliott said.
“I think he deserves the opportunity, I think he’s shown he’s a very good driver. Having him in the garage has been brilliant, he’s a really nice guy, very switched on, and he understands the car.
“I think we have faith in him that we can put him in the car, we can do tests with him, and we can trust him to not be looking at the things we don’t want him to look at, and I think he’ll do a good job.”