Williams’ Dave Robson has described Nyck de Vries as a ‘top quality driver’ after the 27-year-old was tipped to be Toto Wolff’s ‘insurance’ policy for Lewis Hamilton by family friend Tom Coronel.
De Vries has served as Mercedes’ test and reserve driver for the past two seasons alongside his role for the German outfit in Formula E. He won the Formula Two World Championship in 2019 before following it up with success in the E series in 2021.
The Dutchman lined up for Williams in FP1 in Barcelona and has been linked with a move to the team for the past two seasons to replace the struggling Nicolas Latifi. He is currently the favourite for the Williams seat next season with the Canadian failing to improve.
Robson, the head of vehicle development at Williams, was full of praise for de Vries when speaking to Formula1.com about his performance in Barcelona. “He clearly has what he needs to be to be an absolute top-quality competition driver,” Robson argued. “He’s worthy of a place on the grid, I think, but so many people are.
“His pace was there. His ability to understand the tyre and do the out-lap correctly, was really impressive. He had some very useful comments on the balance of the car, which agrees quite well with what we’ve heard from the two race drivers,” he added.
De Vries has been touted as Wolff’s insurance policy if Hamilton decided to quit the sport by fellow racer and friend of the Dutchman Coronel.
Mercedes’ struggles this season have led some to speculate that the seven-time World Champion may decide to leave the sport early. Coronel has stated that if this eventuality were to ever arise, de Vries would claim the vacant space at the Silver Arrows.
Speaking to the RacingNews365nl podcast, Coronel said: “If Lewis Hamilton stops, Nyck de Vries will get the seat. Do you know why? As I’ve been saying for a year, Nyck is Toto Wolff’s insurance policy.”
Mercedes were infamously left scrambling to sign a new driver in 2016 after Nico Rosberg announced his retirement from the sport following his championship victory. Coronel argues that Wolff has planned contingencies to avoid ever being in the same situation again.
“Of course, he has already experienced it once with Rosberg,” the Dutchman explained. “I don’t want to say he ‘uses’ Nyck, but that’s why he keeps him close to him. This is a boy who is doing everything he should have done.”
It is unlikely Hamilton will quit the sport anytime soon as he chases a record-breaking eighth world title. However, de Vries is still likely to join the sport soon as he remains in pole position to take over at Williams next season.