Why was Nyck De Vries fired? F1: The harsh reality
Nyck De Vries’ dismissal from Formula 1 reminds us of the brutality that is present in the sport. Despite his talent, de Vries’ departure shows the brutal nature of F1 and the performance-driven culture. De Vries climbed the ranks to win the Formula 2 championship for 2019 earning him a place as Mercedes reserve driver. F1 is a highly competitive sport, with limited openings for newcomers. And, as experienced drivers are constantly competing for seats, even those who have the most potential can be denied a spot in the grand prix circuit.
Disappointing is the realization that being talented and deserving is not enough to ensure a long-term career in F1. This reinforces the idea that the success of a sport is not only dependent on talent and potential, but also heavily intertwined in factors like sponsorships, financial backing and team politics. De Vries’ case serves as a reminder to all that there are many drivers who have been left behind by circumstances beyond their control. F1’s competitive nature forces drivers to prove themselves constantly, as any slip up or underperformance can result in their seat being taken by another talented racer.
Last year, the Italian Grand Prix was an amazing debut.
Nyck De Vries, pressed into action by Williams when Alex Albon was diagnosed with appendicitis just before the last practice session on Saturday, slid in Albon’s Williams FW44 to advance into Q2 despite the limited time he had for practice. He qualified 13th for the Grand Prix — ahead of Williams’s other driver Nicholas Latifi — and due to penalties handed down to others on the grid, he started eighth.
De Vries scored points in his debut Formula 1 race the next day. He finished ninth. The fans voted De Vries Driver of the Day. For his performance that afternoon, he was awarded a full time seat with AlphaTauri in the 2023 Formula 1 season.
De Vries’ career is over after only ten races and less that a year. AlphaTauri, Red Bull and Red Bull announced that Daniel Ricciardo was taking over De Vries’ seat on Monday. “immediate effect.” The suddenness was surprising, even though there had been rumblings about a possible move after the summer break.
The video illustrated the bitter truths of F1 life.
It can be brutal.
Netflix’s docuseries Drive to SurviveIt is no accident that the film, which has been credited with introducing F1 around the globe to new fans of all ages, was given this title. F1 is an extremely popular sport. “what have you done for me lately” exercise. There are only 20 seats available to use, so patience is a must.
Even for a driver with De Vries’ pedigree.
It is not surprising that a driver has achieved success at all levels. De Vries’ first series championship was in 2014. He won the Formula Renault 1.0 series by 130 point, and scored points in all races except two. De Vries moved on to Formula Renault 3.5 in 2014, where he finished third.
De Vries made the move to Formula 2 in 2017, and finished seventh, fourth, and then won the Championship in the 2019 season, defeating Latifi — who would get an F1 seat before him — by 52 points. He also beat Zhou Guanyu, Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin. Before him, three more drivers found a seat in F1.
He won again in Formula E in his second year in the series in 2020-2021. De Vries finished ninth in Formula E’s standings for 2021-2022 before spending most of 2022 in F1 Reserve. He did some practice for Mercedes, Williams and Alpine as well as test sessions. As noted above, he also made his Monza début.
The team was excited when AlphaTauri announced he would replace Pierre Gasly after his move to Alpine. “Now, we are pleased to start a new chapter with Nyck, who’s very much welcome at Scuderia AlphaTauri. He is a very high skilled driver, as he won in all the categories he competed in, with many races and championships under his belt,” The following are some of the ways to get in touch with each other Team Principal Franz Tost at the time. “His last big success was winning the Formula E World Championship, and this is clear evidence that he is a very competitive driver, who deserves a seat in F1. I am looking forward to seeing him in our car and I’m confident that with Yuki and Nyck we will have a very strong driver line up for 2023.”
AlphaTauri decided to move on rather than wait to see if De Vries would be able to right the ship.
Now, it is fair to note that some had reservations about De Vries — most notably, apparently, Christian Horner himself — and that he had been given prior warnings from Red Bull advisor Dr. Helmut Marko to improve his performance. There are also reasons beyond De Vries himself that the move was made: The team might be trying to get a better look at Yuki Tsunoda, they might be looking to put some pressure on Sergio Pérez, they might be taking another look at Ricciardo himself, or it could be a bit of all three.
It also shows how brutal and fleeting the life of F1 can sometimes be.
George Russell was one of many F1 drivers who faced an uncertain fate just a few decades ago. Russell struggled in the 2020 season. The majority of that time was spent with Williams. Despite finishing in the points in a one-race stint with Mercedes, there were rumors that Williams would replace him with Pérez.
Russell found a friend in Esteban Ocon who went through a similar experience at Force India towards the end of 2018. “I’m just reading the press, so I’m not really aware of what is happening, but I really hope that George can stay in Formula 1,” Ocon said in October of 2020.
“Performance-wise, he’s doing an excellent job in that Williams. He’s doing the best he can. There’s nothing to say bad about him, about what he is doing. It would be not justified for him to not be on the grid next year. But that’s how Formula 1 is. It can be cruel sometimes. I’ve paid the price at the end of 2018, and for 2019. I hope this won’t be the case for him.”
Williams, on the other hand, stayed with Russell, and were rewarded for it in the next season. He was 15th in standings in 2021 and scored in 4 different races. His first podium came in the Belgian Grand Prix. Williams’s reward for their patience? Seat next to Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes.
Red Bull, however, knows that patience is a rare commodity and has an opportunity to seize at this moment. Red Bull is the team that dominates the field. The rest of the teams are playing catch-up. They have the dominant driver in the field in Max Verstappen, and making sure they have the right teammate for him is a priority, given the fact that Pérez is only under contract through 2024. It is worth doing everything they can to find the best option for Verstappen.
De Vries only needed ten races in order to prove that he was a viable option. A resume like his might have deserved a bit more patience. In a game that rewards impulsiveness and risk-taking, patience can be a rare commodity. Russell’s experience at Williams may be an exception, but the opposite is also true.
Russell will replace Valtteri bottas, who has spent five years with Mercedes and helped them win five Constructors Championships. A driver, who during his time at Mercedes won ten races and scored 58 podiums. He also finished no lower than third each year in the Drivers standings.
He was also gone.
F1 is cruel and De Vries’s case is the latest.