Mercedes team principal, Toto Wolff, believes that Nyck de Vries has gone some way towards earning himself a seat in Formula 1 after an impressive qualifying and race performance in Monza.
The Dutchman won the Formula 2 title in 2019, beating Nicholas Latifi to the crown, but there were no seats available in the pinnacle of motorsport in 2020 – the second Williams seat went to the Canadian.
The 27-year-old found a drive with the Mercedes EQ Formula E team and, having previously been part of the McLaren young driver programme, he was also taken on by Mercedes’ F1 division as their reserve.
De Vries went on to take the electric series crown in 2021 with Mercedes as he and Stoffel Vandoorne also took the teams’ crown.
The Mercedes pairing, both of whom have McLaren links after the Belgian’s stint with the team in 2016, 2017 and 2018, successfully defended the Silver Arrows’ crown last season, with Vandoorne this time taking home the individual gold.
Mercedes departed the electric series after that, and while Vandoorne has joined Penske, de Vries has been looking for another drive since.
The former FE champion partook in a practice session with Williams in Spain, before driving for Mercedes in FP1 at Paul Ricard.
In Monza this weekend, he took the place of Sebastian Vettel in the first hour on Friday, but got a surprise when he was called up by Williams to replace appendicitis-hit Alex Albon.
De Vries qualified an exceptional P13 ahead of Latifi, and started eighth due to engine penalties ahead of him.
Wolff asserts that the Dutchman deserves a shot in the pinnacle of motorsport, but the Austrian does not have a say on that.
“Nyck was an official Mercedes driver until we stopped Formula E a few weeks ago and he won the championship for us, our first world championship,” he said.
“But we haven’t got a management contract with him, we haven’t got any influence on his career nor are we taking any cut of his future earnings.
“Nyck deserves to have a place in F1. He has shown that because of the limited experience he had from driving around with the rake in FP1.
“Then he was thrown into the cold in FP3, not even at the beginning but at the end – that is a line in the sand. It puts down a marker.”
Speaking on Saturday, the 50-year-old said he was excited to see what the 2019 F2 champion can do during Sunday’s race.
“He deserves it,” explained Wolff.
“I think we forget how he dominated in F2, he was absolutely great in his first Formula E championship when he won the championship.
“He’s going to do what the car is capable of delivering tomorrow, he’s for sure going to extract what is there.”
De Vries ended up finishing the race in P9, to score points on his Formula 1 debut and boost his chances of landing a seat in 2023.