Williams team principal Jost Capito says Nyck de Vries was already on his shortlist for a 2023 seat prior to his debut for the team at the Italian Grand Prix.
De Vries produced an enormously impressive debut drive after being called up to replace Alex Albon ahead of FP3 when the team’s regular driver was hospitalized with appendicitis. He followed up his only practice session in the Williams with a Q2 appearance and a race into the points in ninth place. Capito (pictured at left, above, with de Vries) was delighted with the performance de Vries delivered but says it wasn’t a surprise to see what the Dutchman is capable of in a Formula 1 car.
“I’ve known him for a while and I know his capabilities,” Capito said of de Vries. “It’s exactly what I expected that he was capable of doing — it’s nothing short of his expectations. He did an absolutely outstanding job.
“To jump in the car, not making any mistakes — the cars are difficult to drive. It’s so tricky and there’s so many things on so many switches, everything to learn, and he hasn’t been in the car for long. Just an FP1 is completely different, there’s no pressure, but to remember and do everything right under pressure is absolutely fantastic.
“It’s not just his understanding getting in the car, it’s his race intelligence. He had to defend, he had to attack, he had to do everything in a two-hour race and his first-ever (F1) race. I have huge respect for him.
“He did what I expected so I know his capabilities and he just underlined his capabilities. We will see what his situation is — he has other commitments as well and it’s up for him to see what is possible. Of course I’ve known him for a while now and we are really good friends as well, so we’ll see what’s happening. He’s always been on the shortlist.”
Capito believes just how late Williams made the call to put de Vries in the car is overlooked, while the team waited to find out what was wrong with Albon.
“It wasn’t that clear to make a driver change because we had to wait until Alex had the results from the hospital what it really was, so it came really, really late. It was after 11am that we had to make the choice, and then I think that shows how difficult it really was for Nyck.
“After 11am he was in the Paddock Club entertaining guests, having a couple of coffees and then we say, ‘OK, come down, get your helmet, get your suit and get in the car.’ But he did an outstanding job — it was fantastic.”