De Vries: Verstappen like “big brother” in AlphaTauri F1 deal – Motorsport.com

Verstappen revealed on Saturday that he had met de Vries for dinner after the latter’s impressive F1 debut with Williams in the Italian Grand Prix and encouraged him to get in touch with Red Bull’s Helmut Marko.
At the time de Vries was being linked with both Williams and Alpine, and indeed he had already arranged a test at Budapest with the French outfit’s 2021 car.
However Verstappen filled de Vries in on what was happening in terms of Pierre Gasly’s potential departure from AlphaTauri, and suggested that he call Marko.
De Vries duly travelled to Graz to meet the Red Bull advisor and set in motion the talks that led to him being announced as an AlphaTauri driver on Saturday ahead of the Japanese GP.
“Max and I have a great relationship,” said de Vries. “Obviously we are from a similar era. He is a little bit younger than me, but we grew up in in karting, we are both Dutch, and the way he was approaching racing with his father, karting, driving around in a van through Europe, I think was very much like ours.
“We live for the sport and we respect each other a lot as drivers. And although he is an F1 World Champion, and he is going to win his second in the best team in the sport at the moment, I’m kind of there. And even though he’s a little bit younger, it almost felt like he has acted as my older brother.
“We obviously had dinner after the Monza event together in Monaco, and we talked about the possibilities and opportunities. And that resulted in having a conversation with Dr Marko, when we met that same week in Austria.”
Regarding how important that dinner with Verstappen turned out to be, de Vries added: “It’s not like one thing is the key to anything. So far I’ve been looking after myself, and I’ve always listened to the people around me. And knowledge is very important in this industry.
“And I think sometimes you see people holding their cards very close to their chests. And it’s important to share information to know what’s going on. And that was very much that kind of conversation.”
De Vries conceded that his last minute appearance for Williams in Italy played a big role, but he stressed that he was already in the frame with other teams.
“I will admit that certainly Monza has sped up a lot of the conversations,” he said. “However, I’ve been kind of part of this F1 carousel for quite some time.
“Obviously after winning Formula E that there was an opportunity at Williams last summer. And earlier this season there were also several moments that we were in in conversations.
“I am a Mercedes reserve, as well as a Williams reserve. So I’m close to them and have a good relationship with the people there. I’ve always been in the background in conversations.
“First kind of the Oscar [Piastri] thing was happening. And then Fernando [Alonso] moved to Aston, just before the summer break, that kind of kicked off the whole silly season. And I’ve always been kind of part of that in the background.
“But I guess Monza just took any potential question marks and doubts away people might have had, and clearly all the stars were aligned for that weekend. 
“The car was competitive on that circuit, there were some grid penalties, there were some retirements, and without the safety car, frankly, we would have not even finished the race because of right front brake issues. So I’m very grateful for that moment.”
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