Nyck de Vries delivered one of the strongest Formula 1 debuts in recent years, after the Dutchman jumped into Alex Albon’s Williams Saturday morning before FP3 and went on to make it not only to Q2 but also to P9 by the end of the Italian Grand Prix.
The Mercedes reserve driver replaced Albon after the driver was diagnosed with appendicitis, which ruled him out of the remainder of the weekend.
De Vries had driven for Aston Martin during FP1, but stood in for Albon across FP3, qualifying, and the race.
The season seven Formula E World Champion was flawless, after qualifying P13 before matching the team’s best result of the season.
Due to grid penalties for a number of drivers, the Dutch driver started from eighth and arguably didn’t look out of place.
He defended superbly all race, on his way to a debut points finish.
De Vries had already been linked to Nicholas Latifi’s seat at the team prior to his surprise debut; however, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has stated that a team must “pick him up now” following his phenomenal performance.
“Niki (Lauda) would have taken off his hat,” said Wolff.
“I think if one of the teams who still have a free seat don’t pick him up now, then I don’t understand the world anymore.”
Williams team principal Jost Capito was, of course, asked many times if De Vries’ performance would increase his chances of replacing Latifi in 2023; however, the Williams boss appears to potentially have a preference elsewhere.
“Of course you could put it that way,” he told De Telegraaf newspaper when asked if Monza was the perfect audition by the 2019 F2 World Champion.
“I already knew he would be capable of this.
“The seat depends on a number of factors but Nyck certainly showed the entire paddock what he can do.
“I’ve known Nyck for a while and we’re friends.
“He’s always on the list, but he has other obligations too, so it’s up to him.
“He needs to see what his future holds and from there we move forward.”
Ex-F1 driver and now boss of the Dutch Grand Prix Jan Lammers, is one of those who thinks Captio already has a deal with another driver to replace Latifi.
Mick Schumacher, who is still without a contract for 2023, has been heavily linked to Latifi’s seat, despite a somewhat underwhelming season at Haas.
“De Vries used to race against drivers like Leclerc and he was not inferior to them,” he told NOS.
“It must have hurt to have to watch from the sidelines.
“It wouldn’t be a surprise if he drives for Williams next year, as logic and common sense say that Albon and de Vries would be a great combination.
“But I get the impression that they already have a contract with someone else,” Lammers said.
There remains the chance that De Vries may race for Williams at the Singapore Grand Prix, with Albon now in a race against time to be fit for the floodlit race.
The Thai driver suffered from complications following surgery for his appendicitis, but doctors are confident that he’ll be okay to race at the Marina Bay circuit.
“Alex has been under general anaesthesia and every person reacts differently to that,” Capito said.
“I understand from the doctors that there is a good chance that he will be fit for Singapore, but Nyck will at least be there as a reserve driver.”