Martin Brundle: Nyck de Vries has debunked a ‘fickle’ theory about F1

Jon Wilde
Nyck de Vries in his Williams in FP3. Monza September 2022 results

Williams driver Nyck de Vries in practice ahead of his race debut. Monza September 2022.

Martin Brundle believes Nyck de Vries’ impressive debut at Monza has given the lie to a theory that future F1 talents are in short supply.

De Vries was parachuted in for his Formula 1 race bow at the Italian Grand Prix with the Williams team after Alex Albon was taken ill on the morning of qualifying.

And not only did the Dutchman outperform his beleaguered temporary team-mate Nicholas Latifi, he also added 50% to Williams’ prior total of World Championship points for the season by finishing an excellent ninth.

Although it was De Vries’ first competitive F1 appearance, he is not exactly wet behind the ears for he will be 28 years old in February, won the Formula 2 title in 2019 and captured the Formula E World Championship crown last year.

He has also driven in FP1 for three different teams this season, most recently Aston Martin at Monza, but has had to wait for an opportunity while the likes of experienced trio Fernando Alonso, Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg have spent time away from F1 before being brought back on either a full-time or stand-in basis.

Brundle, writing in his post-race column for Sky Sports, says he has heard suggestions there is a lack of depth among the youngsters currently pushing to get to Formula 1 – even though two of this season’s top five teams, Alpine and McLaren, have been fighting over the services of a 21-year-old rookie in Oscar Piastri.

But De Vries’ performance at Monza disproved the notion about a dearth of emerging young talent, says the Sky F1 broadcaster.

“Nyck de Vries did an outstanding job stepping in on Saturday at Williams for Alex Albon, who needed his appendix removed in a procedure which ended up with a few complications,” said Brundle, referring to the London-born Thai driver having to be taken to intensive care due to respiratory problems. “Hopefully he will be fit soon.

“De Vries qualified well, started eighth after penalties had been applied, stayed out of trouble and ran with the likes of Fernando Alonso and Pierre Gasly all race to seal ninth and two World Championship points on his debut. And the fans’ Driver of the Day.

“That will surely have sealed a seat for him somewhere next year.

“F1 is such a fickle business, it’s generally assumed by some that the current intake in F2 and the likes are not that strong, and some teams are looking to reintroduce more established drivers.

“’There’s not much choice out there’, I often hear in the paddock, but there clearly is if you give some of them a chance.

“De Vries brought his Williams alive.”

Williams' Nyck de Vries at the Italian Grand Prix. Monza, September 2022.
Williams' Nyck De Vries at the Italian Grand Prix. Monza, September 2022.

Is it fair to dismiss the current batch of young hopefuls?

No doubt F1 was ‘spoiled’ to an extent – not in the context of being ruined – by the arrival of Max Verstappen, Charles Leclerc, George Russell and Lando Norris, all of whom are between the ages of 24 and 22.

That remarkable crop will be difficult to replicate for some time, but it sounds churlish for anyone to suggest there is not much coming up behind them.

Admittedly, Yuki Tsunoda has been somewhat disappointing at AlphaTauri, largely due to his own impetuosity, but we believe Mick Schumacher and Zhou Guanyu have done enough this season to show they deserve to stay on the grid for 2023. That has yet to be confirmed, however.

De Vries, as Brundle says, is clearly worth a chance, overdue in his case, but what about those following behind him? Theo Pourchaire, attached to Sauber, is someone about whom the dogs have been barking for some time and an eventual opportunity for him looks inevitable.

Newly-crowned Formula 2 champion Felipe Drugovich has just been signed up in a developmental role by Aston Martin, but perhaps the biggest concern is how the talent pool at Red Bull has dried up.

The production line that in the last decade or so has brought along Daniel Ricciardo, Daniil Kvyat, Verstappen, Carlos Sainz, Pierre Gasly, Albon and Tsunoda could be starting to misfire as they looked outside of the program for Sergio Perez at the end of 2020 – and now IndyCar racer Colton Herta, unconnected to Red Bull hitherto, is being strongly linked with an AlphaTauri seat.

Perhaps, though, it is just a temporary blip and there is still time for the likes of Liam Lawson and Dennis Hauger to come good – after all, that duo are still the thick end of a decade younger than De Vries.