Nyck de Vries thought his Saturday would be spent on paddock duty for Mercedes, and sitting next to Mercedes boss Toto Wolff watching qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix but no he was in the thick of the action for Williams and what an impressive job he did.
When Alex Albon was hospitalized with appendicitis, De Vries got the call to sub for the Williams driver A double whammy for the Dutch 27-year-old driver who on Friday drove in FP1 for Aston Martin in Sebastian Vettel’s car.
Thus the jump to Williams will have been a challenge but within a few hours De Vries was ready to go in the number 45 car. In FP3, his first run, he ended 14th fastest a tenth shy of teammate and the team’s regular driver Nicholas Latifi, in a car Nyck drove once, in Spain in May.
Later on Saturday, in qualifying De Vries made it through to Q2 edging Latifi and outqualifying the Canadian who has driven for the team all season. It will make for humbling reading for the pay driver, making one wonder how much better the team would be doing with the Dutchman alongside a recovered Albon.
Inevitably comparisons can be made with Michael Schumacher doing the same thing when he drove one race for Jordan, in his F1 debut at the 1991 Belgian Grand Prix. Coming into a strange car, a track he had never seen and outqualifying regular driver Andrea de Cesaris, a Lafiti level driver, was the stuff of the F1 legend that the German is.
Robson: De Vries reacted to the challenge expertly
Back then, Latifi would have been ousted and De Vries given his chance, but that is unlikely in this day and age of unbreakable money-driven contracts that keep some average drivers in the top flight who have no reason being there, diluting what is supposed to be the pinnacle of the sport.
Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance prefaced De Vries’ entry: “We send our best wishes to Alex and wish him a quick recovery. Secondly, we welcome Nyck to the team for his F1 race debut.
“The team reacted very well to the news this morning that Nyck would drive for the rest of the weekend. We were able to prepare the car for him quickly and adapt the FP3 run programme to give him some productive track time.
“He reacted to the challenge expertly, helped by his running on Friday [with Aston Martin] and his experience of the FW44 in Barcelona.
“He inherited Alex’s setup and was immediately happy, requiring only a change to the front wing flap angle to adapt the car to his style.
Nyck: I’m happy with how it went but definitely feel there was more in it
After seizing his moment and shining today at Monza, De Vries said in the Williams report: “First, I just want to say I feel bad for Alex and hope that his health and recovery will be quick.
“Nevertheless, it was a great opportunity for myself, however, it’s challenging to just jump in like that. Overall, I’m happy with how it went but definitely feel there was more in it.
“Unfortunately, I picked up a lot of rear locking in my lap, but generally it was a positive session. With the grid penalties, it’s positive to be starting further up the grid.
“I have some homework to do tonight but it’s great to get the call-up,” concluded De Vries who will become the 772nd F1 driver in the history of the sport. He will start from TBC.
Born in Sneek, Netherlands, Myck has achieved success in every racing category he has competed in and is one of his county’s brightest young racing stars.
After a successful stint in karting both locally and internationally, Nyck made the move up to single-seaters in 2012, spending the next three seasons in various Formula Renault 2.0 series – claiming both the Eurocup and Alps titles in 2014, before moving up to Formula Renault 3.5 the following season and finishing P3 in the standings.
GP3 was next up and Nyck claimed two victories across the season, before moving up to the next ladder of the F1 support bill – Formula 2. He split his rookie season between Rapax and Racing Engineering, claiming one win and four further podiums.
After showing promising signs in that first season, he moved to Pertamina Prema Theodore Racing for 2018 and finished P4 overall with three victories that season. He also started competing in endurance racing in 2018, in the LMP2 category of the FIA WEC with Racing Team Nederland.
Nyck remained in F2 for a third season and switched across to ART Grand Prix, where he scored four wins and claimed the Drivers’ title with one race weekend to spare. He also remained in the FIA WEC and competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Towards the end of 2019, Nyck made his Formula E debut with the Mercedes-Benz EQ Formula E Team as a Race Driver and showed impressive glimpses during a challenging rookie campaign across the 2019/2020 season. He claimed one podium finish and finished P11 overall. He also raced in the 2020 European Le Mans Series with G-Drive Racing.
For 2021, Nyck remained in Formula E with Mercedes and, in a hugely competitive season, emerged as World Drivers’ Champion after scoring two victories and two further podium finishes. He also moved up to the role of Reserve Driver for the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team.
2022 saw Nyck continue in his Race Driver role for Mercedes in Formula E and remains Reserve Driver role for Mercedes in F1 team and Williams.