Ex-team boss believes Nyck de Vries can do great things in Formula 1. His impressive performance as a replacement driver for Alexander Albon at Monza has put Nyck de Vries on the radar of Formula 1 teams and landed him a regular cockpit at AlphaTauri for 2023. But whether the Dutchman, who has had to take a few detours in his career, can hold his own in Formula 1 in the long term remains to be seen.
One person who is convinced that de Vries has the qualities for the pinnacle is his former team boss Ian James, under whom he won the Formula E world championship title in 2021: “I think he deserves it,” James tells Motorsport-Total.com.
De Vries drove for the Mercedes factory team in the electric racing series for three years, but left after the past season to make way for McLaren, where James remains team principal. During his time with the team, de Vries took four wins and also the world championship title in the 2021/2022 season.
“He was someone we looked at before Season 6 and saw his qualities, not just as a driver but as a team player,” says James, praising his former protégé:
“Any team he drives for will benefit from his attitude,” he believes.
What makes F1 rookie Nyck de Vries stand out?
Because de Vries has the ability to address things and point out where improvements can be made. “But he does it in a diplomatic way without getting in people’s faces,” the Brit said.
“And that’s a very important quality for a driver, especially a driver coming into a team that maybe hasn’t reached its full potential and still has room to grow.”
While Formula 1 is a different series to Formula E and quite brutal, “I think his character will serve him well,” says James.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing how he gets on in his first season.”
Formula E to Formula 1
In doing so, De Vries is the first driver to make it to Formula 1 via Formula E, although he has always had a leg up in the pinnacle anyway through his association with Mercedes, having climbed into the car for as many as four different teams in 2022.
Still, James rates it as a “great success story” for the championship, which debuted in 2014.
“We’ve always been confident that we have the talent here, whether it’s the drivers, the engineers, the commercial staff, the mechanics, that they can move between different series quite easily, whether it’s Formula 1, Formula E, the WEC or whatever,” he says.
“And that’s another proof that the quality of talent in this paddock is equal to anything else out there.”