After some post-season testing for Mercedes, Nyck de Vries was allowed to make his official F1 debut at Barcelona. The Dutchman got into Alexander Albon’s car for the first practice session and did a good job. The Sneek-based driver managed to lap the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya 28 times, staying out of trouble and even finishing ahead of regular driver Nicholas Latifi. Because his preparation was limited to two and a half hours in the simulator, you can call it clever.
De Vries said on Friday he thinks there’s more to come, but Williams has nothing but praise for the Dutchman. “Everything he did yesterday was very good. He didn’t take a step wrong,” said Dave Robson in response to a question from Motorsport.com know in Barcelona. “He completed the program completely and that was the most important thing for us.”
That alone calls the “ladder of vehicle performance” an achievement given the lack of preparation. “Not only did he have a limited time in the simulator, but we put him on the hard tire for the first run. We knew it was going to be difficult but it gave him the chance to put in a lot of laps. This compound with the soft tire is difficult for any driver but Nyck did well as you can see from the lap times.”
From Williams’ point of view, the overall picture leaves nothing to be desired. “His speed was there, his knowledge of the tires was impressive and his feedback after the session was extremely good. He had some useful comments about the balance in our car, which also matched the feedback from the other drivers. If you can do all of that in an hour, then you’ve done very well,” Robson continues his praise. “He has absolutely everything a top driver needs. Deserved starting grid position but yes there is more to it than that. He certainly grabbed this chance with both hands and can be proud of himself.”
Williams doesn’t seem to have a second training opportunity right away. Grove’s team has yet to give a session to any young talent this year, but according to Robson there are no immediate plans to give De Vries the opportunity. This does not mean that De Vries has already completed his last Formula 1 session of the season. The Formula E champion is essentially a substitute driver for Mercedes and can therefore work well with this team. In addition, Aston Martin and McLaren can also fall back on the Mercedes reserves, which gives De Vries several chances to trot out again in free practice.