Mercedes claim ‘political elements’ hurt Nyck de Vries

Nyck de Vries will partner Yuki Tsunoda at AlphaTauri in 2023 for what will be his rookie campaign, despite being 28 years old.

Mercedes technical director Andrew Shovlin has admitted that he was surprised by how few options Nyck de Vries had for 2023, despite the fact he matched Williams’ best result of the season on his debut for the Grove-based team.

There is no doubt that De Vries is very talented, with the 28-year-old having claimed the 2019 Formula 2 World Championship and the 2021 Formula E World Championship.

He’s also performed valiantly as Mercedes’ reserve driver, with the Dutchman having made several FP1 appearances over the last couple of years.

His shock appearance at Monza last season, though, proved that he’s got what it takes to be on the F1 grid, with the Dutch driver having performed superbly after replacing Alex Albon from FP3 onwards.

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De Vries made it to Q2 before finishing ninth in the race, matching the team’s best result of the season.

Following Monza, he was quickly offered a seat at AlphaTauri for the forthcoming season, something he accepted.

In doing so, he joined the Red Bull family, with Shovlin believing that the Dutchman has what it takes to win races.

He is surprised, though, that only really Red Bull showed any interest in the driver, with Williams having been the only other side who looked like a potential home for De Vries.

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Shovlin believes that “political elements” stopped some teams from pursuing De Vries, with Red Bull having signed him “purely based on ability”.

“What I think was weird was that there wasn’t more of a fight over his services,” Shovlin stated in the book Max & Nyck.

“Only Red Bull made a call purely based on ability. And I think there were political elements behind him not getting a seat elsewhere.”

Many were surprised to see De Vries depart Mercedes for a role at a Red Bull-led team, given that the Austrians are the Germans fiercest rivals.

Shovlin doesn’t hide the fact that the Dutchman was a great fit at Mercedes but that the duo had “an agreement” ahead of 2023, which allowed him to move to another team.

“We had an agreement with Nyck that if we couldn’t put him with a Mercedes team, he could go for the best option. And we might regret letting him go,” Shovlin admitted.

“He fitted in our team very well, but you can’t hold someone back.

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He was the ideal test and reserve driver for us. If we could have kept him on the shelf to use him when needed, we would have done that, but then we would have prevented a driver pursuing his dream.

“With his Formula E title, he has meant a lot to the Mercedes brand and he has also been excellent as a reserve driver. That is why we also wanted to help him further.

“This is also important for the future. The chance of Nyck wanting to come back to this team will be influenced by how fair we’ve been with him over the years. There’s nothing to say that Nyck won’t be driving a Mercedes one day in the future.”