Nyck de Vries admits he did not do a good enough job and did not show enough aggression during the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix weekend, and he is looking to rectify this in Australia.
The Scuderia AlphaTauri driver has yet to show his full potential in either of the opening two races of the season and was always on the backfoot during the Saudi Arabia weekend when he was forced to miss final free practice session due to a power unit change on his AT04.
De Vries feels his performance at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit was more competitive than two weeks prior in Bahrain, and he feels he and the team are making good progress as they look to finally secure their first top ten finish of the 2023 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season.
“Looking back at Saudi, obviously I’m not satisfied, but let’s say content with the progress I felt on my side of the garage,” said de Vries. “I think the two race weekends so far have shown strengths and weaknesses and overall, Saudi was a more competitive and performant weekend, even if missing FP3 didn’t help.
“After the race, I was critical of my own performance and I meant what I said – I think I need to improve in those scenarios. At the start and the restart, I should have been a little bit more aggressive, while the end of my race was very strong.
“Of course, you can find a million excuses in your own defence, but I look at myself and I feel like we’re progressing.”
De Vries says AlphaTauri are remaining realistic at this stage of the season and their main aims are to move up the order, and they will have the benefit this weekend at Albert Park of some updates to their car.
“We are realistic and smart enough to understand that, at the moment, we won’t be fighting for race wins with Scuderia AlphaTauri, so we just look for our own little victories within the championship,” said the Dutchman.
“Obviously, as a team, we want to be further up the grid and be more competitive in going for points, and we will continue to strive and push for that. Whatever situation a team is in, I think the work is still very similar. The kind of commitment and desire to excel is exactly the same.
“We will have some updates in Australia, but it’s impossible to say what effect that will have, as other teams are also pushing and developing, so it will be an ongoing process that will hopefully allow us to be a little bit more competitive within the midfield but until qualifying, we won’t know.
“Obviously, there is always a little bit of optimisation to do with the car as it is, but it’s also a moving target. If you add performance to the car, then we might need to reassess or rethink how we execute the best performance out of it, but we clearly need more points of downforce, so we will have to see what the upgrades deliver.”
“We will have some aero updates for this race” – Yuki Tsunoda
Team-mate Yuki Tsunoda has also failed to score points in either of the first two events, although he was only four laps away from doing so in Saudi Arabia only for Kevin Magnussen to pass him on track for tenth place.
The Japanese driver has been the closer of the two drivers in scoring points, and Tsunoda says the team made good progress with its AT04 last time out on a track that suited it better than in Bahrain.
“Another eleventh place in Saudi after the same result in Bahrain was a bit frustrating as I was so near to getting in the points,” said Tsunoda. “The car was more suited to Jeddah than to Sakhir and overall, the team did a good job with the package we had, making a step forward in terms of race pace.
“I was happy with my own performance, fighting for points, and also with how the team worked. We knew the car’s limitations, and these are more visible when you are having to fight with other cars in the actual race, as the limitations are exaggerated in that situation.
“We struggled for straight line speed, so I was quite pleased that I could hang on until the last four laps in my battle with Magnussen for P10. I enjoyed the fight, it was good fun.”
It will be Tsunoda’s second Australian Grand Prix, but he will be looking for a better weekend than he enjoyed in 2022 this time around, and he is hoping to finish inside the top ten for the first time this season on Sunday afternoon.
“This weekend will be my second time racing in Melbourne and last week I drove it in the simulator, when we also went over some aspects of the Saudi race that we wanted to look at again, such as items we couldn’t do in race week, or set-ups that could have worked better before moving on to the next race and track,” Tsunoda added.
“We will have some aero updates for this race and my focus will be on giving the team good feedback about them. If they work well, I hope it means I can extract as much performance as possible from the car and fight for points again.
“Last year, I didn’t have a particularly good weekend in Melbourne, but I enjoyed the overall experience of being in Australia, in Melbourne, where the atmosphere is really good around the circuit. I like the track and so this time, I came out to Melbourne quite early to get over the jet lag and acclimatise, but also to enjoy the city and the beach for a couple of days before starting work.”