Sports. Honestly. Since 2011

One to Watch: Nyck de Vries

Nyck de Vries is the type of driver that Formula 1 teams yearn for. He is a natural both on and off the track, and is already becoming a mature competitor at just 19 years of age. While Red Bull are well known for their fast-track approach to promoting teenage prodigies into Formula 1 drivers, McLaren are keeping de Vries where they can see him. Under the watchful eye of Anthony Hamilton, de Vries’ talent is slowly being cultivated by the British team to become the complete racer, and potentially emulate Anthony’s world championship winning son.

De Vries’ path to single seater racing began when he was four, when his parents bought him his first mini-kart. After winning the KF3 Championship in 2009 de Vries moved up to KF1, where he also excelled. His performances were impressive enough to attract the attention of McLaren’s talent scouts, who took him under their wing. De Vries first tried single seater racing in the 2012 Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup and NEC championships, driving for French team R-Ace. Although several drivers already had a season of experience, de Vries’ rookie talent didn’t go unnoticed. His home win in the Formula Renault NEC round at Assen was the first of his single seater career, and is the moment that he refers to as his most memorable to date.

With several races under his belt, de Vries moved to series heavy-hitters Korainen GP for two years, opting not to make the jump to more powerful machinery. In 2013 he recorded two Eurocup wins from fourteen outings, including a double podium finish at the Hungaroring, which de Vries now considers to be his favourite track. He finished fifth in the standings, just behind some of the biggest young names in single seater racing including Oliver Rowland, Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly. This year, with the aforementioned drivers finding their way in pastures new, de Vries came into his own and was unbeatable from the start. He wrapped up the Eurocup Championship in late September, recording five victories and winning the championship by 130 points. This was in addition to his equally ruthless charge to the Formula Renault Alps title, which he won by 101 points. It had become clear to McLaren that they had a future star in their ranks, and although the signing of Max Verstappen to Toro Rosso F1 dominated the news there was still little incentive to rush de Vries’ career. McLaren already had him in their junior programme, and had no intentions of letting him go until his potential was fully realised.

So, where will McLaren take de Vries next? The outspoken teenager has previously said that he will go wherever his parent team leads him, and maintains a trust that McLaren will put him in the best position to further his career. In late October de Vries was confirmed as a driver for DAMS in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series, placing him in the team that guided Kevin Magnussen to his championship win last year and Carlos Sainz Jr to the same feat this year. It’s clear that de Vries is now in the right place to hone his skills in more powerful machinery: Formula Renault 3.5 is quickly becoming the preferred training ground for young drivers to prepare for Formula 1, as exemplified by Magnussen’s success. If de Vries can impress next year (by delivering performances akin to his end of 2013 form) he has every chance of putting himself in front of fellow McLaren junior Stoffel Vandoorne in the Woking-based team’s F1 waiting room.

It is true de Vries’ competition this year in Formula Renault 2.0 wasn’t as intense as Vandoorne’s or Esteban Ocon’s in their respective categories. He was clearly the title favourite heading into both championships and had one of the best cars in which to complete the job. In spite of these factors, de Vries has earned his position for next year by showing that he is a natural winner. Winning the two championships by such significant margins has enabled de Vries to show that he isn’t just the best, but the best by a far stretch.

The struggle of young racing drivers has become a well documented affair. Far too many young and equally proficient drivers have been forced to abandon the quest for Formula 1 because funds and support have left them with nowhere to further their single seater careers. No such misfortune is holding back de Vries, though. He has McLaren as his guide, and is one of few drivers that will be nurtured all the way from karting to Formula 1 with full support (although he has made the point that they are not forcing him into anything). Understandably, this could put some added pressure on with the clear long term aim being a Formula 1 seat, but McLaren know that de Vries is one of the best junior single seater drivers in the world at the moment and won’t want to compromise his chances. He is following the same unrushed path as Lewis Hamilton did, so we can assume that when he does eventually make his Formula 1 debut he will impress immediately. And, while his more publicised compatriot will likely be scoring points for Toro Rosso next year, Nyck de Vries will be building up his experience to ensure that he makes an even larger impact when the correct time comes. It’s a waiting game, and that’s perfectly fine with de Vries.


Thank you for reading. Please take a moment to follow me on Twitter – @LWOSDanLloyd. Support LWOS by following us on Twitter – @LastWordOnSport and @LWOSworld– and “liking” our Facebook page.

Interested in writing for LWOS? We are looking for enthusiastic, talented writers to join our motorsports writing team. Visit our “Write for Us” page for very easy details in how you can get started today!

For the latest sports injury news, check out our friends at sports injury alert.

Have you tuned into Last Word On Sports Radio? LWOS is pleased to bring you 24/7 sports radio to your PC, laptop, tablet or smartphone. What are you waiting for? GO!

Main image:


More Posts

Send Us A Message