If you aren’t familiar with Dutch racing driver Nyck de Vries, then now’s the time. He won the Formula 2 championship in 2019, and was more recently crowned the 2020-2021 Formula E world champion. However, with his Mercedes-EQ Team announcing that they will be withdrawing from the championship, this leaves a big question mark hanging over de Vries’ future.
The obvious answer? Formula 1. The rumours are already circulating that there will be an opening in Formula 1 for de Vries, with Alfa Romeo expected to make some huge changes to their driver’s line-up for 2022. It came as no surprise that Kimi Raikkonen announced his retirement after 19 years in the sport. However, a more unexpected revelation is that his teammate Antonio Giovinazzi is also expected to be leaving at the end of this year.
This leaves two seats open at Alfa Romeo, and it is being widely speculated that de Vries will be taking one of these seats. Alfa Romeo’s team principal Frederic Vasseur does have close ties to Mercedes’ Toto Wolff, after all, so it is definitely a possibility. It is also rumoured that Valtteri Bottas will step in to fill the other seat at Alfa, assuming that George Russell replaces him at Mercedes.
However, Alfa Romeo may not be de Vries’ only viable option. As previously mentioned, Russell is expected to be leaving the Williams team at the end of this year, meaning that they will have a seat available. There are rumours that this Williams seat will go to Alex Albon, since his return Red Bull was taken off the cards when the team extended Sergio Perez’s contract, but de Vries may also be someone they are considering.
“With no youngsters ready to make the jump from Formula 2 at the moment, Mercedes are considering offering the opportunity to one of their Formula E drivers and the choice seems to have fallen on de Vries”
According to reports, Mercedes want de Vries to take the Williams seat that Russell is set to vacate. “Mercedes want to continue to keep a seat they can make available to their junior drivers (as happened with Russell himself) and the Williams seat is, in fact, the only possible opportunity,” said the report. “With no youngsters ready to make the jump from Formula 2 at the moment, Mercedes are considering offering the opportunity to one of their Formula E drivers and the choice seems to have fallen on de Vries.”
Russell has expressed that he believes de Vries deserves a seat in Formula 1: “He’s a Formula 2 champion, he’s a Formula E champion, he’s definitely got the speed, the charisma, and the right attitude to be an F1 driver,” he said. “Unfortunately, Formula 1 only has 20 drivers. For a great driver to come in, a great driver has to leave. So, it’s not quite as simple as that. But he deserves to be here, but let’s see if he gets the opportunity or if the opportunity arises itself.”
Williams’ second driver Nicholas Latifi, who came second to de Vries in 2019’s Formula 2 championship, has also praised his talent. “I definitely think after the year we raced against each other in Formula 2, I don’t know if I did say it, but I think I said he definitely deserved a shot in Formula 1,” he said. “He had a really strong year this year in Formula E as well. If he was to take the second seat in Williams, and provided I’m still there as well, I think he will be a great teammate and very capable in Formula 1.”
(Toto) Wolff stated that de Vries and Vandoorne both “deserve” to be in Formula 1, and that he hopes they can find a place on the grid
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff is another prominent name in Formula 1 who has expressed his support of de Vries, as well as his former Formula E teammate Stoffel Vandoorne, who had a short stint at the McLaren F1 team between 2017 and 2018. Wolff stated that de Vries and Vandoorne both “deserve” to be in Formula 1, and that he hopes they can find a place on the grid.
Even though we expected to receive some clarification during the summer break in August, this failed to happen, and it seems that Formula 1’s silly season is far from over. But one thing is certain, Nyck de Vries is a talented young driver who deserves a seat in the sport – if he so wishes.
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