Verstappen helped de Vries secure 2023 seat
"It was the right time to call him"
Nyck de Vries admits world champion, Dutch countryman and friend Max Verstappen "put in a good word for me" that ultimately led to a 2023 Formula 1 contract.
After de Vries, 27, caused a stir on debut at Monza by scoring points in the sick Alex Albon’s Williams, he sat down for dinner on the Monday night with Verstappen.
"We’re good friends as well," Verstappen confirmed after racing to pole at Suzuka.
"We had a dinner the day after Monza and I told him ’just give him a call’," he said, referring to the head of Red Bull’s F1 driver program, Dr Helmut Marko.
It was announced officially at Suzuka that de Vries will replace the Alpine-bound Pierre Gasly at Red Bull’s junior team Alpha Tauri next year.
"Helmut is the guy," Verstappen said. "When he likes something, he is daring enough to put him in the car when other teams are a bit more careful.
"It was the right time to call him, as Helmut is still probably excited on a Monday from the race on a Sunday, so it worked out really well."
After de Vries’ call to Marko, the pair met at the 79-year-old Austrian’s office in Graz, Austria.
"It happened that quickly," he smiled. "We were also still in talks with Williams, and I still wanted to test for Alpine. But the clearest decision was just obvious.
"Everything accelerated when I had the appointment with Marko," de Vries told de Telegraaf newspaper.
"It’s also true that Max put in a good word for me. Max was already very enthusiastic after the race, not only to the media but also within Red Bull."
For his part, Marko said Red Bull would have retained Gasly if a driver of de Vries’ calibre hadn’t become available.
"For us, it’s all about performance," he told Sport1.
"Our own juniors didn’t perform well enough this year to deserve a promotion. De Vries, on the other hand, impressed both in Formula E and in Monza.
"So it was a crystal clear decision for us."
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