Following a long period as Mercedes’ reserve driver, 2019 Formula 2 World Champion and Season Seven Formula E World Champion, Nyck de Vries is finally getting his chance to drive full-time in Formula 1, with him partnering Yuki Tsunoda at AlphaTauri next season.
The highly anticipated move was announced prior to FP3 at the Japanese Grand Prix, with the Dutchman set to become one of the oldest rookies in the modern history of F1.
Interestingly, De Vries is already 27 years of age, making it somewhat fascinating that he’ll be joining a side who are renowned for being a Red Bull feeder team.
His stand-in performance for Alex Albon at the Italian Grand Prix appears to have been the decisive moment when AlphaTauri realised they wanted the Mercedes reserve, after he matched Williams’ best result of the year (ninth place) on his F1 debut.
De Vries’ performance was exceptional, and he arguably didn’t look out of place in an F1 car.
Current Mercedes driver George Russell has revealed that the Dutchman has always been fast and was actually the “man to beat” whilst competing against each other during their karting days.
“Out of the karting boys as such, Nyck was the only one who hadn’t made it to F1, and probably deserved to have made it,” said Russell.
“Those five drivers – myself, Alex [Albon], Max [Verstappen], Charles [Leclerc] and Nyck – who were in that era of racing against each other at 11, 12, Nyck was the only one who didn’t make it, so I’m happy for him.
“I’ve always rated him. In go-karting, he was the man to beat. Out of all of us, he was probably the most successful.”
2022 is perhaps the most De Vries has ever been linked to an F1 seat, with the Dutch driver having been at one point linked to Alpine and also Williams.
Had De Vries rejected AlphaTauri, or if the Faenza-based team hadn’t approached him, then the Grove-based outfit would’ve been his best bet at a 2023 seat.
Instead, he’s getting what should be a very competitive drive for next season, with a viable pathway now open to progressing potentially to Red Bull.
The Dutchman has had to wait for his chance to get a full-time seat, with Russell believing that some drivers have to wait for the “right time” to make the switch to F1.
“Getting to Formula 1, you need to do the job at the right time when there’s an opportunity on the grid, and sometimes those stars don’t align,” Russell said.
“The number of stars that were aligned at Monza made up for it.
“I’m now intrigued to see how he’ll get on but I’ve no doubt he’ll perform well. He’s got all the possibilities to be a great F1 driver.”