Why Nyck de Vries is the MOST experienced rookie in F1 history

12-02-2023 20:06 Last update: 12-02-2023 20:14

Nyck de Vries is only just about to enter his rookie season in Formula 1, three seasons after he won the Formula 2 title in 2019. But why has it taken him so long to finally make the step up to the premier class of motorsport?

Nyck de Vries is somewhat of a conundrum. He’s too old at 28 to be considered an up and coming rookie, but he is still a rookie who’s really yet to prove his talent at the top level. However, in 2023 he’ll finally get his chance in F1 and today we are going to be looking at why it has taken him so long to join.

Simply put... Opportunity

First of all there’s simply been a lack of places in Formula 1. When he won the 2019 Formula 2 title, that same year Lando Norris, Alex Albon and maybe more importantly George Russell all raced in Formula 1 for the first time. Yes they were racing in different classes, but that year saw a big turnover of drivers in seats where De Vries might have been targeting.

Not only was there three new drivers there was lots of interchanging between teams, Ricciardo, Sainz, Kyyat. That meant the following season was always going to be low on driver changes. In fact there was only one new driver and that was Nicholas Latifi at Williams, which was possibly a seat for De Vries but there are always other factors at play. By that point he was 24. Which in this day and age isn’t young for a driver. Not with the likes of Russell and Norris around. 

Three seasons for the F2 title

In his first season in F2 he finished seventh, which was fair enough. In his second season in Formula 2 he finished fourth behind the three drivers we mentioned previously which is a good result given that season was particularly strong, but that meant you could argue the following season was particularly weak. Nicholas Latifi was the early front runner and finished second that year, and with all due respect Latifi wasn’t a great marker.

I’m not taking anything away from the achievement but De Vries should have won F2 that year, he was one of the most experienced drivers and the field was weaker.

Let’s compare that to recent champions. Leclerc one season, Russell one season, Schumacher two, Piastri one year and maybe more importantly Drugovich three years. He’s the only other driver not to win the title in his first two seasons and he hasn’t even been linked to a seat in F1.

The best prepared rookie

Now this whole spiel sounds like I’m just criticising De Vries, but far from it. I actually think these experiences and the ones he’s had since have made him a better driver. What can we expect? Well a very well rounded driver, and I’d go as far to say the best prepared of the three rookies in 2023. He arrives with pedigree. 

He didn’t sit around as a reserve driver, he went and won the 2020/21 Formula E season whilst gaining valuable experience on the books at Mercedes F1. He arrives as a World Champion! And when he has won titles he’s dominated. You can only beat what is in front of you and he despatched the Formula 2 grid and then did the same against some seasoned pros in Formula E. He has a history of getting results, he’s never choked and when put under pressure he seems to thrive, Monza last year is a prime example of this and it really was the final nail in the coffin for Latifi and pretty much secured De Vries a seat in 2023! When it mattered he did the business. 

The most experienced rookie in Formula 1 history

But my biggest point of them all is he is the most experienced rookie in Formula 1 history. And I don’t just mean the experiences he’s had outside of F1 I mean actually in F1. He’s driven in some capacity now for six different teams now. McLaren, Mercedes, Alpine, Aston Martin, Williams and now Alpha Tauri, that’s incredible. He’ll have knowledge of all of those setups, all of the machinery, their tactics, strength and weaknesses and he’s worked around some of the best. Hamilton, Russell, Vettel, Norris, Ricciardo! There’s so much experience there and he’s been able to take it all in! And that is why Nyck de Vries is the most experienced rookie in Formula 1 history! 

This was a script by Joe Tyrrell for a video on the GP Blog YouTube channel.