Will Nyck de Vries be considered by Williams if Russell leaves?

21-07-2021 19:33
by GPblog.com
Column
Will Nyck de Vries be considered by Williams if Russell leaves?

It is still unclear who will sit next to Lewis Hamilton in the second Mercedes next year. Will it be Valtteri Bottas or George Russell? It seems that the quarter of the latter is slowly coming to an end, although nothing is certain yet. Should Russell be transferred, a spot will become available at Williams. Nyck de Vries might be one of the candidates to replace the 23-year old Brit.

F2 champion but no Formula 1

De Vries is currently being linked to Williams in the rumour circuit on social media. The Dutchman became champion in Formula 2 in 2019, but an opportunity in the king class of motorsport never came. This makes De Vries the only driver since 2014 who became champion in GP2 or Formula 2 but did not compete in Formula 1. Jolyon Palmer, Stoffel Vandoorne, Pierre Gasly, Charles Leclerc, George Russell and Mick Schumacher did have that luck.

If you become Formula 2 champion, you have to race in a different class the following season. There is no rule that the champion is always guaranteed a spot in Formula 1. You would say that De Vries has the qualities for it, but the spots in 2020 were quickly taken. It is possible that the 26-year old driver only managed to perform consistently in his third F2 season and eventually won the title.

Battle for wins

De Vries decided to sign with Mercedes in Formula E. Within the German formation, he is praised for his contribution. For a long time, he was on top, but after some unfortunate races, he currently has to settle for tenth in the championship. However, the title is still not out of sight. It is proof that De Vries is fast. Moreover he is having an excellent season with Racing Team Nederland in the WEC. Last weekend they won at Monza in the LMP2-calley.

The question is whether it makes sense for De Vries to give up his two competitive seats for a seat in Formula 1 at Williams. The Grove-based team has been in the back of the grid for years and competing for the points has been out of the question for the last couple of seasons. Of course, the 2022 regulations will change the pecking order, but De Vries will also realise what he has to drop for it.

Formula E is booming and a Mercedes factory team is the place to be. At Racing Team Netherlands, De Vries will get on very well with Giedo van der Garde, but combining Formula 1 with the WEC is not possible. De Vries will have to abandon the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The big question is: is it worth it?

What are the options for Williams?

Should Russell leave, there are of course several candidates. Valtteri Bottas, Nico Hulkenberg, Daniil Kvyat or Dan Ticktum are options. Toto Wolff has already indicated that he wants to try and provide Bottas with another spot in Formula 1 if Russell is chosen to join Mercedes. Jost Capito, Williams' team principal, has already admitted that there have been talks with Hulkenberg. Ticktum is currently the development driver for Williams and is currently doing very well in Formula 2 with a fourth place in the championship. Kvyat is currently under contract with Alpine as a test and reserve driver, but the Russian is also aiming for a return to F1.

Bottas, Hulkenberg and Kvyat are obviously much safer options for Williams in terms of experience than a De Vries. Perhaps experience is not such a bad thing in a season where all regulations are new and points have to be scored again after a long time. De Vries did make his debut in a Formula 1 car. After the 2020 season the driver from Sneek was allowed to test at the Abu Dhabi circuit during the 'young driver test'.

Good relationship Williams and Mercedes

But what plays into De Vries' hands are the close ties between Williams and Mercedes. Basically Mercedes decides who will drive in one of the Williams cars. Why? Williams drives with Mercedes engines and uses even more parts for the car. From next season on Williams will also buy the gearbox and the hydraulics from its partner. Mercedes' influence at Williams will therefore not exactly diminish.

It is clear that Toto Wolff has the cards in his hands. Will Russell go to Mercedes or not? And who does he consider a suitable replacement to take his place in the Williams of 2022.

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