Nyck de Vries is Toto Wolff’s ‘insurance policy’ should Lewis Hamilton decide to quit the sport, according to the Dutchman’s family friend and co-rider Tom Coronel.
De Vries has never raced in Formula 1 before – but has been Mercedes’ test and reserve driver for the past two seasons driving alongside the German team in Formula E. He won the Formula 2 championship in 2019, then claimed victory last season. Formula E Championship. He has been regularly linked with a move to backmarkers Williams for the past two seasons and has driven for the team in FP1 at Barcelona.
Hamilton is under contract with Mercedes until the end of the 2023 season. However, Mercedes have struggled in the 2022 season, with the seven-time world champion sitting just sixth in the drivers’ championship, 75 points behind. of championship leader and bitter rival Max Verstappen. This has led some to speculate that he may decide to leave the sport early.
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 sadly found itself scrambling to sign a new driver in 2016 after Nico Rosberg announced his retirement from the sport following his championship win. The Silver Arrows managed to secure a successful deal for Valterri Bottas to join Williams at short notice – but Coronel argues Wolff has planned for contingencies to avoid finding himself in the same situation.
“Of course he has already experienced it once with Rosberg,” explained the Dutchman. “I don’t want to say he’s ‘using’ Nyck, but that’s why he keeps him close. He’s a boy who does everything he should have done. He’s won every championship he’s ever had. he should have won.”
De Vries has competed in Formula 2 alongside some of the most talented drivers on the current grid, including Charles Leclerc, George Russell and Lando Norris. Coronel believes this increases his value to Wolff and Mercedes.
“If you look at his track record and see what he’s still doing now, Nyck has never lacked for anything compared to the other drivers. That’s exactly what you get,” Coronel said.
Hamilton is unlikely to leave the sport anytime soon as he hopes to help Mercedes turn around their fortunes on the track with the aim of winning a record eighth world title. However, it will be reassuring for Mercedes fans to know that a plan is in place should this eventuality arise.