While Max Verstappen predictably dominated the race at Monza, taking another inexorable step towards a second Formula 1 World Championship Title, another Dutchman stole a little of his limelight.
If anyone had asked Nyck De Vries last Thursday to describe his perfect attainable Monza weekend, I’m sure he would not have come close to articulating the success he went on to achieve.
Driving the hapless Aston Martin in FP1 on Friday, he could not have imagined he would be sitting in the slippery FW44 on Saturday. However, the ‘Racing Gods’ had plans for him, striking down Alex Albon with acute appendicitis on Saturday morning created an opening for the 2020-21 Formula E World Champion.
As the Williams reserve driver, he now had the platform to demonstrate first-hand why he should partner Albon in 2023.
Do or do not, there is no try…
The words “plate” and “step up to” must have been ringing in the 27-year-old’s ears as he sat in the Williams Pit box getting acquainted with a new set of dials, lights and their relative functionality; Controls that were, like the car, very different to the one he had been driving the day before.
After what must have seemed an interminable length of time, he was finally released onto the track and began to get familiar with his “new ride”.
With only 28 minutes left in FP3, De Vries started putting together lap times, finishing the session only one-tenth behind his teammate. A teammate who has been on first-name terms with the same car all season.
What transpired next was a testament to the F1 talent that resides in De Vries: out qualifying his teammate and getting the Williams into Q2. Could he have made it into Q3? Possibly, if he had more time in the car but it didn’t matter, a point had been made.
If he had embarrassed Latifi in qualifying, he fully buried him in the race – finishing 9th and taking two points for the team while his Canadian teammate languished in his all too familiar position at the back (ok 2nd to last…).
This was a Herculean effort by the De Vries. He took the opportunity by the horns and wrestled it to the ground. He demonstrated the ability to manage a race with the tools he had, and not get sucked into melees he could not win and risk a DNF.
Nice try, but no cigar, or anything else for that matter…
I can’t help but feel a little sorry for Latifi. Being humiliated in such a way is not something you would wish on any driver. However, he has never demonstrated the ability to run in the top tier of F1, despite having ample time to do so.
I haven’t done the calculation, but if the pairing of Albon and De Vries regularly garnered points in the 2023 season, would this offset what Latifi’s dad pulls out of his pocket and slaps down on the table?
Regardless, if Dorilton Capital have any ambition and wants to increase the value of the team, they need their drivers and cars popping up regularly in the mid-field next year.
An Albon & De Vries pairing will make this a possibility. An Albon and Latifi? I don’t even have to answer that.
If we look into our crystal balls, as a Mercedes driver, De Vries would be the perfect replacement for Hamilton when he retires.
“Seasoning” George “the boy” Russell at Williams enabled him to seamlessly move into the Silver Arrows. Why not repeat what works?
A great plan for all except maybe for the “Orange Army”. These guys generally hate Hamilton, Mercedes and “Uncle” Toto in equal measure. Could be a struggle for them to mentally reconcile a Dutch son in the “enemy” camp.