Mercedes figures agree on Nyck de Vries’ F1 return

Liam Lawson was preferred to Nyck de Vries replacing the injured Daniel Ricciardo at the 2023 Dutch GP

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Toto Wolff and George Russell agree Nyck de Vries deserves another shot at Formula 1 despite the Dutchman enduring a miserable first half of the season against Yuki Tsunoda before being replaced by Daniel Ricciardo at the halfway mark.

The 2023 Dutch GP brought double-disappointment for De Vries after AlphaTauri opted to replace the injured Ricciardo with rookie Liam Lawson, who had a positive weekend overall, with the axed driver spending time in Mercedes‘ garage over the weekend.

“I think he deserves to be on the grid,” Wolff told select members of the press, including Total-Motorsport.com. “The moment you’re not feeling confident in a car over a prolonged period, the more pressure you put on yourself, the less good you perform. And I think this happened.

“He’s quick. If you win F3 and F2 there is high potential and he was never able to show it.”

George Russell won F2 the season before De Vries‘ 2019 title, as the Dutchman came fourth behind the Mercedes junior in his second season of the championship.

Ahead of the Dutch GP, Russell was asked if he was surprised at De Vries‘ sacking, and whether he thought his former Mercedes teammate deserved another shot at F1.

“I wouldn’t have expected it in any other team,” Russell said. “Obviously we know how Red Bull operate and you need to respect how they do things.

I didn’t follow Nyck closely during his time in AlphaTauri, but I obviously saw the reports and the things that Helmut said and I think it’s a difficult place to go if you’re lacking the confidence.”

“I think they didn’t help him to gain his confidence, he was in a difficult position from where he started so I feel bad for him.

“I do think he’s Formula 1 level but didn’t get the opportunity that he deserved.”

Wolff’s worries about bad fish

Nyck de Vries features for Mercedes in free practice for the 2022 Mexican Grand Prix | LAT Images / Mercedes F1 Team

Wolff‘s previously said Mercedes would welcome De Vries back as a reserve driver and he appeared to double-down on that statement at Zandvoort.

De Vries appeared for Mercedes in multiple F1 sessions during his stint racing for their Formula E team, and his debut for Williams at the 2022 Italian GP was as a result of that affiliation after he’d driven for Aston Martin in free practice earlier that weekend.

“I’m glad we have a third driver that I know will do the job if one of ours eats a bad fish,” Wolff added. “But the contribution in the simulator is tremendous and that makes us sometimes do these big jumps from Friday to Saturday because he’s driving his socks off overnight.”

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