ALEXIA’S TAKE: Nyck de Vries – The Rise of F1’s Next Superstar?

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By Alexia Tibil

Any young kid’s dream when entering the world of racing is to end up one day amongst the drivers that form the grid at the pinnacle of motorsport.

And so, if you happen to be new to Formula One, there is one thing you ought to know beforehand: no matter how talented you are and how great of a career you had in motorsport, getting an actual seat amongst those 20 drivers might be harder and more challenging than anything you have been previously faced with.

For Nyck de Vries, one of his childhood dreams came true at the Italian Grand Prix, as he stepped into an F1 car for a race for the very first time. Being present at the racetrack mainly because of his FP1 duty for Aston Martin on Friday and doing a decent amount of work for the Team, the rest of the grand prix weekend took a turn in the best manner possible for him. On Saturday morning, Williams Racing announced on their social media accounts that Alex Albon is forced to undergo surgery, due to being struck with appendicitis, and that de Vries would replace him for the remainder of the weekend.

But who is Nyck de Vries really? As many journalists and sports experts would describe him, he was seen as a “promising young talent” very early on in his career, right from the beginning of his karting days when he raced alongside the likes of George Russell and Max Verstappen. As his career would go on, Nyck switched to single-seaters back in 2012 as he debuted in Formula Renault 2.0 series, a series in which he managed to win championships. Before managing to grab a seat in Formula One’s support series, Formula 2, de Vries spent a season competing in GP3 series. In his 3rd year of driving within Formula 2 – 2019, Nyck put 4 wins to his name alongside 12 podiums, a feat that eventually got him the F2 Word Drivers’ Championship that year.

The media drastically switched its attention to him when he signed with Mercedes as part of their season-ending Young Driver Test back in 2020 alongside former McLaren driver Stoffel Vandoorne. They both performed their very first Formula One test for Mercedes and would eventually team up for Mercedes-Benz EQ Formula E Team. Across the 2019/2020 season, Nyck showed impressive on track skill in his rookie year in Formula E and decided to stay within the series beyond that season.

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But then 2021 came, a year that marked a milestone in de Vries’ young career. He graduated to the role of Reserve Driver for the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team, and on top of that, he managed to put his hands on the Word Drivers’ Championship in Formula E after what has been a challenging, frustrating, but ultimately rewarding season for him. His connections to Mercedes have seen him getting opportunities throughout the 2022 season as a Test Driver for other Mercedes powered F1 Teams such as Aston Martin and Williams Racing.

Circling back to the Italian Grand Prix, a place that has seen many surprise winners over the past few years, Monza has also been the place that turned out to be a dream F1 race debut for Nyck de Vries. On Saturday afternoon, Nyck put his elbows out on track to deliver a couple of fantastic laps that put him right into Q2, a stellar performance from a rookie, no doubt. Due to lots of penalties that were handed that weekend, de Vries was seen starting from the 4th row alongside fellow Dutch Max Verstappen. During the race, Nyck managed to pull off not only some brilliant overtakes, but also showed what incredible race craft he has. His well-deserved P8 got him his very first Formula One points, alongside being voted as the “Driver of the Day” and receiving the highest Power Rankings score of the Grand Prix.

To cap things off, although not having a proper full-time seat on the F1 grid yet, Nyck de Vries has again shown what he is capable of. And, if there are still people who doubt his abilities and skills as a racing driver, his achievements throughout his career within different series, and the fact that he scored his very first F1 points on his race debut, should speak for themselves. In terms of ‘what is next’ for the Dutch driver, things could start to take shape when it comes to a possible seat for the 2023 season, because a couple of teams have started to take an interest in him. His dazzling performance at the Italian Grand Prix only made him a more “desirable” contender for a race seat next year.

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