Nyck de Vries: is he F1 worthy?
With recent rumours coming up linking Nyck de Vries to a possible F1 drive at Williams in 2022, it’s time to take a closer look at this newly crowned Formula E world champion’s racing career to see if he has what it takes to be an F1 driver.
Written by Evan Veer, edited by Janvi Unni
Nyck de Vries started his F2 career at the Rapax team for the first 13 races in 2016, switching to Racing Engineering after that. He came 7th in the standings with his first win and 113 points in total.
The 2017 season saw a strong competition at the front of the grid, with George Russell, Lando Norris and Alexander Albon filling the top 3 respectively. Nyck came 4th in the standings racing for Prema with 3 wins to his name and ending up only 10 points behind Albon.
In a strong 2018 season with ART De Vries stormed to the Formula 2 title with a 42 point lead and taking 4 race wins in the process, although there was admittedly not a lot of strong competition, with his closest rival being Nicholas Latifi in P2, and beating his teammate Nikita Mazepin by a whopping 255 points.
In September 2019 it was announced that Nyck De Vries would be driving for the new Mercedes EQ team in the 2019-2020 season alongside ex-F1 driver Stoffel Vandoorne. In his first season he was comfortably beaten by his more experienced teammate, but he managed to take his first podium in the season finale at Berlin where the team took its first 1-2 finish.
He significantly improved for the 2021 season though, taking pole for the first race in Diriyah and comfortably leading from start to finish and scoring points in the second race at the track as well, giving him a significant championship lead. In the following races the team seemed to have lost form however, with Nyck scoring very few points before the London double header where he managed to take an impressive P2 finish in both races.
Before the final double header in Berlin there were 18 drivers still technically in the fight for the title, and with Nyck failing to score points in the first race, the championship seemed all open. In the final race however, most of his closest rivals either crashed out or finished behind Nyck, making him the first ever Formula E world champion since it gained official FIA world championship status this year, in only his second season in the series.
Nyck has been active in the endurance racing world for a few years as well, starting out with Racing Team Nederland in the LMP2 class for the 2018/2019 season. This first season was not very successful for the team, which despite showing good pace never made it onto the podium and only finished 15th in class at Le Mans after a problem with the steering caused De Vries to fly off at one of the fastest corners into the circuit and crash hard into the wall. Nyck managed to drag the car back home, but the time lost with the crash and repairs meant they had no chance of coming back to the front.
More bad luck followed at Le Mans in 2020, when an issue meant they had to make multiple extra stops which took them out of the fight up front. They did however achieve their first big success that year, taking their first pole and podium at Silverstone and winning the race at Fuji
De Vries now races for the G-drive team in both the European Le Mans series and the WEC, and he is currently Toyota’s official reserve driver for their Hypercar program.
Nyck’s first tie to F1 came with him being signed to McLaren’s young driver programme in 2010, with him making two appearances in McLaren’s tooned series. He left the program in 2019 after McLaren opted to promote Lando Norris instead and moved his focus to the Audi sport racing academy, where he would remain until being signed for the Mercedes Formula E team in September 2019.
More recently Nyck was appointed as one of Mercedes’s test and development drivers alongside his Formula E teammate Stoffel Vandoorne and fan favourite Nico Hülkenberg, and he tested for the team at the 2020 post-season test at Abu Dhabi.
Over the past few weeks some rumours have come up about a potential F1 future for Nyck, firstly with him being suggested as a replacement for George Russell at Williams if George goes to Mercedes, with Mercedes allegedly pushing for this to happen. Both Nyck himself and the Mercedes EQ Formula E team have since denied these claims, but in the F1 driver market this usually doesn’t seem to mean that much, with drivers and teams seeming to lie about whether they are in talks all the time.
More recently there has been a great increase in strong rumours suggesting Nyck will be announced as Alfa Romeo’s second driver next to Valtteri Bottas, which would mean a completely new lineup for the team. Together with this there have been stories about Alfa Romeo looking to switch to Mercedes power units for next season, combined with Frédéric Vasseur being spotted in the Mercedes paddock hospitality on several occasions.
What do you think? Is Nyck De Vries F1 worthy? Will he get a shot at Williams or Alfa Romeo next year?
Only time will tell…