Dutch driver Nyck de Vries was one of the most highly anticipated rookies to join Formula One in recent years. Having won his junior Renault category and then the F1 championship in 2019, the young Dutch driver was expected to easily find an F1 seat.
However, with none forthcoming de Vries turned his hand to other categories winning the 2020/21 Formula E championship for the Mercedes team.
De Vries drives for Mercedes
2022 proved to be a turning point in de Vries fortunes. He was given a free practice one driver at the Spanish Grand Prix replacing Alex Albon at Williams.
Each Formula One team has to run a driver with less than 2 Grand Prix experience in two free practice sessions during a season.
Nyck was called up by Mercedes for a practice session at the French Grand Prix where he replaced world champion Lewis Hamilton and then again in Mexico where he drove George Russell’s car.
However, de Vries big break came at the Italian Grand Prix in Monza. Alex Albon was taken ill will appendicitis and was called up by Williams to take part in practice three, qualifying and the race.
De Vires unique F1 record
Remarkably, the Dutch driver had already driven Sebastian Vettel’s car in free practice one and is the only driver to compete for two different F1 teams over the course of a race weekend.
Despite the Williams’ car behind back of the grid material for most of the season in the hands of De Vries he made qualifying two in the FW44 car ahead of experienced team mate Nicholas Latiffi
Following the application of driver grid penalties de Vries starts the race in P8 and managed to take the chequered flag in P9 earning the fans driver of the day voted award.
The silly season which represents the driver employment market should have been relatively sedentary in 2022, however the sacking of Daniel Ricciardo by McLaren and their subsequent stealth theft of Alpine’s junior driver meant it was one of the most interesting for some time.
Marko overules Tost and recruits de Vries
Alpine eventually realised their fight with McLaren to retain Oscar Piastri was pointless and settled on Alpha Taur’s Pierre Gasly as their preferred replacement for the departing Alonso who was off to Aston Martin.
This opened the opportunity for Nyck de Vries to join the junior Red Bull team who were impressed with his performance in Monza.
However his recruitment was not without some contest as long standing team principal Franz Tost tabled Mick Schumacher as his preferred replacement for the departing Frenchman.
By all accounts this led to some friction within the Red Bull family and as Tost recently revealed a “political” situation when the matter crossed Helmut Marko – the Red Bull racing consultant’s – desk.
Teams mate 6-1 ahead on qualifying
It appears Marko blocked the Schumacher move and proposed the impressive de Vries instead. Clearly Marko won the day and de Vries is now seven races into his full time F1 career.
However, all has not gone well.
De Vries has struggled to match his team mate Yuki Tsunoda and while the Alpha Tauri is second last at present in the concstrcutors’ table Tsunoda has won the inter team qualifying battle 6-1. The Japanese driver has made final qualifying twice while de Vries has made Q2 just twice.
Tsunoda has scored the team’s two points and de Vries has crashed the car on a number of occasions.
Rumours de Vries to be sacked
There has been a number of media reports that De Vries may be sacked before the start of the summer break, though Franz Tost has rubbished this notion when asked.
However, de Vries was recently given the famous Helmut Marko hurry up call. Ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix, Marko told reporters, “To date, [de Vries] has not lived up to the expectations placed in him.”
“Of course, we talked about it openly with him and now there are routes that he knows.
“So let’s see how he develops and then we will discuss further and possibly decide.”
De Vries accepts his job on the line
Since then de Vries has made Q2 on both occasions and even out qualified Tsunoda at the recent Spanish Grand Prix.
However speaking to total_motorsport.com Nyck de Vries accepts his future is related to how he performs on track.
“I don’t read any media during or outside weekends…,” he replied when asked about the speculation. “So I don’t have any feelings towards that.”
“But I also genuinely don’t think it’s any different than all the time. It’s been like that. Always in our sport, we have to perform on the track. So it’s just the same as usual.”
Alpha Tauri proces looks grim
The lack of pace in the Alpha Tauri car has indeed limited what de Vries can deliver in what is one of the most competitive F1 midfields ever seen.
“I don’t necessarily think a lot [has] gone wrong,” said de Vries. “I take responsibility for my mistakes. I made a few too many.”
“Equally, I think the pace has been good at several moments, but I haven’t been able to put [it] together and convert it into a result.
“We’re all humans, we make mistakes, we move on, and we have a new weekend ahead of us.”
This weekend in Canada with be the junior Red Bull team’s 337 Formula One start, though whether either Tsunoda or de Vries can score points may depend on the reliability of the teams ahead of them on the grid.
Quickest out of the blocks! ⏱️
— Formula 1 (@F1) June 5, 2023