Williams have confirmed that Nyck de Vries will be getting behind the wheel of the FW44 at this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix.
The appearance coincides with rumours that Nicholas Latifi could well be replaced before the end of the 2022 season due to his poor performances, and de Vries’ name is one that has been thrown in the hat to replace him.
The Dutchman is the reigning Formula E champion, and has now won four races in the all-electric series with Mercedes EQ after his victory at the Berlin E-Prix launched him up to sixth in the Drivers’ Championship.
He also won the Formula 2 championship prior to his Mercedes signing, and was previously part of the McLaren young drivers’ programme, all of which leaves ambiguity as to why he has never been given a chance in the pinnacle of motorsport before.
He now has that opportunity, and he is relishing the taking part in an official championship session.
“Firstly, I’d really like to thank Williams for the opportunity to run in FP1,” he told Formula1.com.
“It’s great for me to get to know the team and drive the FW44, and also to get myself out on track during a Formula 1 weekend.
“Preparation for the test is going well so far and the team have been incredibly supportive of me. I’m very much looking forward to the whole experience in Spain now.”
Latifi has not yet scored points in 2022, and he has been out-qualified and out-raced in every event so far by Alex Albon if you exclude Albon’s disqualification from qualifying in Australia due to a failure to provide a fuel sample.
The Thai-Brit has scored points on two occasions, but mistakes and a subsequent lack of confidence leaves the 27-year-old rooted to the foot of the Drivers’ Standings, and thus there is concern for his future in F1.
A former Red Bull engineer has suggested that the previous whispers of de Vries temporarily taking the Canadian’s seat during a practice session were misconstrued as confirmation of a full-time replacement.
“It’s just dawned on me that the Williams dropping Latifi mid season rumours probably started with someone mishearing this arrangement,” he tweeted.
Williams team principal Jost Capito confirmed previously that he intends to honour Latifi’s contract, which expires at the end of this year.
“We have contracts with both of our drivers and we respect them,” he told Sport1.
“Nicholas was only slightly slower than Alex on Saturday. He just needs a little more time to get used to the new car.
“But he has our full support and for us there is currently no question of changing anything about our driver pairing over the course of the season.”
De Vries is also a Mercedes reserve driver in F1, but it is unknown where he will end up when McLaren complete the takeover of the Mercedes EQ team.
Rumours will almost certainly continue linking him to Latifi’s seat, but his successful test with the Meyer Shank IndyCar team in December means that the door to racing in America is also ajar.