Sebastian Vettel’s retirement announcement set off what became a sensation ‘silly season’ for the driver market. Yet despite moves by Alonso to Aston Martin and Gasley to complete an all French driver lineup for Alpine, it is the recruitment of Nyck de Vries which is creating huge anticipation for F1 fans and pundits alike.
De Vries is one of the most exciting drivers to emerge from the junior single seater racing categories in a decade. Nyck won two Renault world championships then followed this up with a convincing campaign to take the F2 title in 2019.
Yet the young Dutch driver has been overlooked while Nicholas Latifi, Nikita Mazepin, Mick Schumacher, Guanyu Zhou and Yuki Tsunoda have been given full time rookie F1 drives since De Vries F2 title in 2019.
De Vries racing pedigree
Meanwhile De Vries won the Formula E title for Mercedes and competed in the 2022 24 Hours of Le Mans finishing 4th.
Monza 2022 will be forever the moment Nyck finally got to shine in F1. Having been called up by Williams on the Saturday morning to substitute for the unwell Alex Albon, the young Dutch driver out qualified his experienced team mate and scored points coming P9 in Sunday’s GP.
At the time his Williams team mate had completed 15 races this season without scoring a point.
When Alpine came calling for Alpha Tauri driver Pierre Gasley to replace Alonso, Red Bull indicated they wanted to recruit an exciting rookie talent to replace the Frenchman who had been with the team since 2017 and had little chance of driving for the senior tea.
Red Bull F1 second choice
Initially Red Bull were focused on recruiting Californian IndyCar driver Colton Herta who has lit up the American premier single seater racing season during his three years in the sport.
Yet Herta didn’t have the required FIA super license qualifying points and despite an the FIA considering mitigating circumstances from Herta’s IndyLights season, the American driver was eventually refused his F1 super-license.
Alpine eventually prised Gasly away from the Red Bull fold paying the Milton Keynes based outfit a cool $10m to release hi from his contract and Nyck de Vries was then announced as his replacement.
Tsunoda under pressure
De Vries will partner the recently retained Yuki Tsunoda and the intra team battle set for 2023 is mouth watering.
Should Nyck significantly outperform his Japanese team mate paddock talk has already turned to whether he will be promoted to the senior Red Bull team for 2024.
Sergio Perez has been retained on a one plus one year contract by Red Bull following his improved performances this season winning in Monaco and Singapore.
However, the break clause at the end of 2023 could see Perez dropped and De Vries promoted alongside Max Verstaoppen.
Verstappen on De Vries as team mate
The newly crowned double world champion was asked this week about the prospect of partnering up with fellow Dutch driver Nyck De Vries.
“You shouldn’t ask me that,” Verstappen told Viaplay Media Group.
“That also depends on what happens next to me with, for example, Checo [Perez], as long as he continues to perform well, but first let’s just enjoy two Dutchmen in Formula 1.”
Verstappen was coy about the future possibilities for De Vries.
“He now has a seat for the coming years and that is very nice,” said Verstappen.
“What I also like is that he grabbed that one opportunity with both hands. He immediately scored points and I am very happy for him.
“I am also sure that he can learn well at AlphaTauri. That is also a very nice team and hopefully also a competitive team. It is of course also just about being able to fight for those points.”
The F1 dream is on
But a year is a long time in Formula One as Perez knows too well.
With his F1 career seemingly over as Racing Point released him at the end of the 2020 season, a surprise opportunity arose for him to replace the dropped Alex Albon for Red Bull in 2021.
Tsunoda has two years experience on De Vries, yet at times the Japanese driver appears to be too eager and make mistakes.
Further his race craft has been called into question as the FIA issued him with a 10 place grid drop in Monza after being the first driver to amass 5 reprimands from the F1 stewards in a single year.
If Nyck de Vries lives up to his potential and expectations its is not inconceivable he will exclude Yuki next season and challenge Red Bull to promote him as quickly as they did Max Verstappen.
Verstappen joined Toro Rosso aged 17 in 2015 and just 23 races later he was racing for the Big Bull team and never looked back.