In the space of 24 hours Nyck de Vries more than proved he deserves a seat on the 2023 Formula 1 grid, whether that’s at Williams or elsewhere.
His substitute performance at the Italian Grand Prix was very impressive, no matter how you rate Nicholas Latifi.
To jump into a car, which he had only driven in the first practice session of the Spanish GP earlier this year, and be straight on the pace is not easy.
After an hour of practice, De Vries went into qualifying and outqualified Latifi which provided the platform for him to take ninth on his F1 debut in the race.
The 2019 Formula 2 champion will not get a better chance to secure a full-time F1 seat, so where could he go?
How good was De Vries?
The first thing you must do when replacing a driver on a temporary basis is don’t make any silly mistakes.
Although De Vries did make an error going into the Della Roggia chicane when pushing to get into Q3, it was good to see a bit of bravery and aggression rather than holding back.
It shows the character of him and that he is prepared to get his elbows out and go for it when needed.
Prior to this, De Vries just snuck into the second part of qualifying, but his fastest lap in Q1 was deleted for a minor track limits infringement.
In essence, he had two laps that were quicker than Latifi which is really poor from the Canadian but also excellent from De Vries – showing his raw speed.
Then, in the Grand Prix, he showed his ability to manage the unique Pirelli rubber with great touch and smart driving to keep the tyres in the right working window.
The straight line speed of the Williams was excellent at Monza, but you still have to drive very well to get into a rhythm and not make any small mistakes in the twisty stuff.
“Nyck drove an excellent race and was able to defend when required as well as keeping constant pressure on the cars ahead,” said Williams head of vehicle performance Dave Robson.
“We gave him an ambitious strategy which would push his soft and medium tyres to the limit. The late safety car offered some protection in the final laps and also helped him manage a hot front brake disc.
“However, he got himself into that position by driving extremely well, managing the start and the pit stop expertly and by fighting hard using a car and setup that he had only driven for 34 laps yesterday.
“He did no high fuel running prior to the laps to the grid and had never driven a full stint on these tyres in racing conditions. The work that he and his team put in overnight was excellent and he deserved this result.”
Will De Vries be at Williams in 2023?
It seems the most logical choice for De Vries that he will drive for the team he raced for at Monza.
Alex Albon signed a contract extension to remain with Williams for 2023 and beyond so it would be Latifi‘s seat that De Vries would take.
Latifi did enough to keep his seat for this year, but has been very disappointing for most of this season, blown away by Albon and to be beaten convincingly by De Vries will be another big blow.
It could all come down to money. On pure performance, it’s a no brainer to take De Vries over Latifi.
But, Latifi still brings on a big chunk of cash that could make the difference, even though Williams have been boosted by millions of pounds from owners Dorilton Capital.
Ahead of the Formula E London E-Prix at the end of July, De Vries insisted he can only do his job, which is similar to comments he gave to the media six weeks later.
“Obviously everyone shares that dream and goal,” De Vries exclusively told Total-Motorsport.com. “I would be lying if I said I didn’t want to go to F1.
“But I am also happy with what I’m doing. Ultimately it’s out of my control so time will tell what will come.
“I can only do a good job on the track, I’m flattered my name is around and we’ll see.”
Team principal Jost Capito told De Telegraaf: “Whether this was a good audition from him? Yes, of course, you can put it that way.
“That he is capable of this is exactly what I had thought beforehand. You depend on several factors for a seat, but Nyck showed the entire paddock what he can do.”
What about AlphaTauri?
Should Pierre Gasly join Alpine, at least one space will be available at AlphaTauri for 2023, with uncertainty surrounding the future of Yuki Tsunoda too.
Red Bull‘s pursuit of IndyCar star Colton Herta has come to an end with the FIA not willing to give him an exemption as the American doesn’t have enough super licence points.
Helmut Marko hasn’t been impressed by Red Bull‘s junior drivers in F2 with Liam Lawson, Jehan Daruvala, Dennis Hauger and Ayumu Iwasa not ready to make the step to F1.
The team are expected to go outside of their pool of talent, with F2 champion Felipe Drugovich and De Vries among the names who they will look to.
De Vries‘ Mercedes links could prove a problem as we all know about the relationship between the Silver Arrows and Red Bull.
Would Mercedes let De Vries to go AlphaTauri? Not easily, although Marko has already been in talks with the 2021 Formula E champion.
De Vries to Alpine?
The only other likely spot for De Vries would be Alpine and he is one of up to five drivers who are testing the 2021 car at the Hungaroring on Monday.
If AlphaTauri choose to keep Gasly, who is contracted to the team for 2023, they would have to sign someone else.
Esteban Ocon has been open that he would like to have Mick Schumacher as a teammate next year, but Alpine seem to think otherwise.
Everything is out of De Vries‘ hands, even though he couldn’t have done much more on his F1 debut.
Will De Vries race at the Singapore GP?
De Vries is on standby for the Singapore GP which takes place from September 30-October 2, if Albon has not returned to full fitness after he suffered a respiratory failure which put him in intensive care.
Albon had appendicitis surgery during the Italian GP weekend but had complications after his operation.
He has been released from hospital and has less than two weeks to recover for Singapore
“I feel pretty good, I feel okay,” said Albon, in a video posted on his social media accounts.
“Obviously on Saturday I had a slight issue and the doctors did an amazing job, and I’m very grateful that they got me in good health and out of the hospital by Tuesday.
“I’ve been in Monaco since then, I’ve been starting to walk around. The goal is to be ready by Singapore, which is going to be tough; it’s one of the toughest races that we go to, so not an easy one, but let’s aim high and see what happens.
“And just a quick message to say thank you for all the kind messages. I’ve been reading them all – or as many as I can, and it means a lot. Thanks, hopefully see you in Singapore and peace out.”
For De Vries, it can be seen as a good and bad thing if Albon doesn’t recover in time and he gets another Grand Prix weekend.
The Marina Bay Circuit is one of the toughest venues on the calendar with the walls just centimetres away.
A crash or some mistakes could put a dent into De Vries‘ chances of being in F1 next season.
Take a look at Giovinazzi in 2017 for example when he replaced the injured Pascal Wehrlein for the first two Grand Prix of the season.
He was excellent on his debut in Melbourne, matching teammate Marcus Ericsson, but two heavy crashes in Shanghai in his second outing left him without an F1 drive until 2019. De Vries can’t afford to wait any longer for his chance in F1.
On the other hand, another great performance on a significantly tougher track, which he has never driven at, would surely swing the pendulum towards him and see him on the grid, whether that’s at Williams, AlphaTauri or Alpine.