Having briefly worked with Nyck de Vries while at McLaren, Sir Lewis Hamilton was delighted to see the Dutchman finally get his shot in Formula 1.
The now 27-year-old was still in karting when he became a member of the McLaren young drivers’ programme, and he was involved in simulator testing with the team.
The 2019 Formula 2 champion spent seven years as an understudy to Jenson Button, and three learning from Hamilton, whose father, Anthony, had sacrificed so much to get his son to the pinnacle of motorsport.
Anthony held multiple jobs just to try and obtain the necessary funding for Sir Lewis to continue karting, and McLaren themselves also chipped in while the now 37-year-old was climbing through the junior series.
He eventually became a McLaren driver in 2007, winning his maiden world championship a year later, and in 2010, Anthony stopped serving as Sir Lewis’ manager.
The seven-time champion wanted to maintain his relationship with his father, and he felt their business relationship was getting in the way of that, so Anthony turned his attention to helping other young stars.
One of them was Paul di Resta, who raced with Force India for three years, and another was de Vries.
The Briton explained 12 years ago why he was so keen to help out future talents who might not have had the funding to pursue their dreams.
“I enjoy helping people who want my help – and who don’t always have the funds or the wherewithal to achieve their dreams,” Anthony told Autosport at the time.
“You can’t do it for everybody – but when you believe in somebody you can put your heart and soul into them, and that is what I can do with Paul.
“I have got the same belief with my other driver, Nyck de Vries. He is a wonder – an absolute wonder and a very exciting prospect for the future.
“Helping others is my new challenge and so I will put my heart and soul into helping Paul and Nyck achieve their dreams of F1.
“Nyck is still only 15, so it is early days for him, but he is signed to the McLaren Young Driver programme, which is great and they are really excited about him.”
De Vries was a late stand-in for the injured Alex Albon at Williams in Monza last weekend, and he qualified 13th, before starting the race eighth due to grid penalties for drivers ahead, one of whom was Hamilton.
The 2021 Formula E champion finished ninth to claim points on his debut, and the 103-time race winner, who ended up fifth, was elated for his friend.
“Nyck is a very talented driver, I knew him when he was very young, when I was at McLaren, my father tried to help him get into Formula 1,” said Hamilton.
“He is really valuable to our team, and he does a lot for us in the simulator and he is always positive. I was so happy to hear that he got the chance to drive a GP weekend. He deserves a place in Formula 1 in my opinion.”
De Vries has since been linked with a full-time seat with Williams next season in place of the struggling Nicholas Latifi.