Nyck de Vries should be careful not to compare himself with fellow Dutchman Max Verstappen in 2023.
That is the warning of Formula 1 rookie de Vries’ first team boss Franz Tost, who will oversee the 28-year-old’s first season on the grid at Alpha Tauri this year.
De Vries is actually almost 3 years older than back-to-back world champion Verstappen. But his path to F1 was bumpier as he detoured through McLaren’s junior program, Formula 2, and even sports cars, Formula E and most recently the Mercedes reserve seat.
In the Netherlands, the popularity of Formula 1 is riding a wave with Verstappen’s meteoric success and now a second talented driver in the form of de Vries.
But Alpha Tauri boss Tost warns de Vries to keep his own enthusiasm in check.
“The media can do it, as long as Nyck doesn’t get involved with it himself,” he told Algemeen Dagblad newspaper.
“That would be the worst possible thing he can do – to compare himself with Max Verstappen,” the 67-year-old added.
“Max is an incredibly skilled driver of unprecedented speed, who works with the best engineers in Formula 1. If you immediately start comparing yourself to that, it becomes very difficult.
“Nyck’s mind cannot be there now. He just has to sit in that car, do his best and then results will come naturally,” Tost said.
However, Tost has indicated previously that despite de Vries’ inexperience in actual grands prix, Red Bull’s second team will be looking to him perhaps more than 22-year-old Yuki Tsunoda for a leadership role.
“With today’s quite complicated Formula 1 cars, it is important to have someone with more technical experience,” he said. “Someone who has won in the different categories, races and championships.
“So I hope that we can immediately give him a car that he deserves, which is to reach Q3 all the time and score as many points as possible.”
Prior to de Vries’ arrival, however, 2022 was not a good year for Alpha Tauri as it slumped to second-to-last in the constructors’ standings.
“Because of the budget ceiling, we couldn’t tackle all the problems we needed to,” Tost admits.
“It was wiser to put all the focus in this new car. A lot has changed in terms of design and so far all the numbers tell us that we are moving in the right direction. But of course you don’t know where the competition is.”
But if the car is good, Tost thinks de Vries will quickly prove himself.
“He might be in a position to win a championship sooner or later,” he said. “You never know.”