The hangover from Nyck de Vries’s stint in F1 hasn’t gone away just yet, with the Dutch driver having to hand out a large chunk of his Red Bull salary.
De Vries was signed as a racing driver for the 2023 season by AlphaTauri, Red Bull’s now-renamed second team in Formula 1, but the Dutch driver was removed after the British Grand Prix midway through the year.
The Formula E World Champion struggled to adjust to life in F1, with Red Bull quickly losing patience as the experienced driver couldn’t come up with the pace and consistency the company expected.
Nyck de Vries enters investment agreement with Investrand
De Vries had a sensational first race in F1, claiming points at the first time of asking as he stood in for an ill Alex Albon at Williams for the 2022 Italian Grand Prix. This was enough to convince Red Bull to take their ill-fated gamble on him for a full racing seat in ’23.
Having been dropped from AlphaTauri in favour of the returning Daniel Ricciardo a few months later, De Vries’ bad 2023 turned even worse with some unwanted news. This time, however, the bad news had nothing to do with Red Bull directly and, instead, stemmed back to an investment company’s interest in him from 2018.
De Vries had a loan agreement in place with Jeroen Schothorst, through his company Investrand, in which the Dutch driver’s drive with Prema in Formula 2 was allegedly paid for in part by Investrand – the amount under dispute being €250,000.
De Vries himself, as well as supermarket company Jumbo, paid the other €250,000. The agreement De Vries reached, claimed Investrand, was the sum would be repaid with a three percent interest rate per annum – as well as being entitled to 50 percent from income from F1-related activities.
De Vries required external backing as McLaren, with whom he had been signed as part of their driver programme – had opted to part ways with him.
The sticking point was that the agreement with Investrand was apparently that, if De Vries wasn’t a Formula 1 driver by the end of 2022, the loan would be cancelled and Investrand would have to write off the money.
De Vries took part in one Grand Prix in ’22, but as a reserve driver – not as a contracted race driver. This sparked off the legal argument, with Schothorst claiming he had invested in De Vries’ career at a time when “no one else wanted to do that anymore. We now disagree about the interpretation of the agreement we entered into with each other at the time.”
De Vries’ lawyer Jeroen Bedaux told the court Schothorst’s case could hinge on the fact that De Vries declined Schothorst’s offer to become his Formula 1 manager.
He added: “Everything shows that Investrand cannot accept that De Vries became a race driver in Formula 1 in the 2023 season, and not in the last year of the agreement.”
Court rules in favour of Investrand, De Vries to hand over half of F1 salary
On Friday, the Amsterdam District Court ruled in favour of Investrand’s argument: the admitted exception made in the contract – agreed by both sides – was in case De Vries participated in F1 solely as a test driver.
While De Vries was seeking to invoke this exception, the court ruled De Vries was not solely a test driver active in Formula 1 until the end of 2022 – he had stood in for Alex Albon as a substitute driver at Williams for the 2022 Italian Grand Prix.
As a result, De Vries now has to repay the investment of €250,000, with the agreed interest rate, as well as having to pay 50 percent of all the income he was paid as an F1 driver for AlphaTauri – this includes the income from personal sponsorship. The repayment figure is unconfirmed, but likely will cost De Vries a substantial sum.
A source familiar with the situation told PlanetF1.com that De Vries’ estimated salary with AlphaTauri was over €2 million, meaning the driver – who has since returned to Formula E – owes over €1 million on top of the loan repayment.
“We supported Nyck at a crucial moment in his career when nobody else wanted to do so anymore,” Schothorst said.
“I am happy that the judge ruled in our favor but, of course, I regret that these proceedings were necessary.
“We would have preferred to reach a settlement by mutual agreement without proceedings but, unfortunately, our attempts to do so were resolutely rejected each time by Nyck and his lawyer.
“As a result, going to court became inevitable. That does not alter the fact that I wish Nyck all possible success in the continuation of his already impressive motorsport career, even though it will no longer be in Formula 1”.
De Vries is understood to be considering an appeal against the decision.