Toto Wolff believes Nyck de Vries “deserves” a spot on the Formula 1 grid and proved that with his qualifying performance at the Italian Grand Prix.
The 28-year-old will unexpectedly make his Formula 1 debut at today’s Italian Grand Prix when he lines up on the grid for Williams.
Having spent Friday’s FP1 lapping the Monza circuit as an Aston Martin young driver, he thought his on-track action for the weekend was done when the chequered flag fell only to return to the track for FP3.
However, this time it was with Williams, the team calling on the Mercedes reserve to replace Alex Albon after he fell ill, diagnosed with appendicitis.
Such was the late call-up that Williams needed 15 minutes of FP3 to adjust the car to suit the Dutchman, and yet he still finished the session less than a tenth of a second behind regular driver Nicholas Latifi.
He went even faster in qualifying, beating the Canadian with the two finishing qualifying P13 and P16. They’ll line up eighth and tenth on the grid due to a spate of engine penalties for rival drivers.
Wolff, who was De Vries’ big boss earlier in the year when he raced for Mercedes’ Formula E team, was impressed.
“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,” Wolff said as per GPFans.
“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.”
De Vries has been linked to Latifi’s Williams seat for next year’s championship with Wolff saying the driver “deserves” the chance.
“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. He’s for sure going to extract what is there.”
De Vries is hoping this weekend’s performance will put him front and centre in F1’s shop window, but admits whether or not he gets a drive is out of his control.
“I don’t have a management, not really, officially as such,” he told F1.com when asked whether his management was working on getting him a seat for next year. “But time will tell. I don’t know, it’s out of my hands. It’s not in my control.
“Obviously, it’s a dream and I think I would deserve a chance, but ultimately it’s not up to me to decide a driver line-up.”
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