Motor racing-De Vries deserves a place in F1, says Russell

MONZA, Italy (Reuters) – Nyck de Vries deserves a full-time Formula One seat after the Dutch driver’s spectacular debut with Williams at Monza on Sunday, according to Mercedes driver George Russell.

Russell previously raced for struggling Williams and competed against de Vries in his junior career from karting onwards.

Both were Formula Two champions with the ART team, Russell in 2018 and de Vries in 2019.

“He obviously did an excellent job … he was always one of the very best and there’s no doubt he deserves another place in Formula One,” Russell told reporters after finishing third on Sunday.

“There’s 20 drivers, not everybody gets an opportunity, but certainly now he’s proved everything he has to.”

De Vries, who won the electric Formula E title in 2021, stepped into the car at short notice on Saturday after regular racer Alex Albon was ruled out with an appendicitis.

The Mercedes reserve had driven for Aston Martin in first Friday practice.

The 27-year-old started eighth and finished ninth in his first F1 race – a result that could help his hopes of securing a seat for 2023, possibly at Williams, who have only confirmed Albon.

Williams’ Canadian Nicholas Latifi is the only regular driver on the starting grid yet to score this season and de Vries outperformed him throughout, despite considerable obstacles.

“Jumping from Aston Martin on Friday into a Williams; it’s a different car, the seating position is different,” he said.

“I remember when I was doing testing with Mercedes and Force India at the time and driving F2, it took quite a few laps just to get used to the different feeling of how those cars reacted.

“There’s not a lot more to say; to score points on your debut in a Williams, it’s pretty spectacular.”

Williams are last overall in the constructors’ standings and de Vries’s two points took their season’s tally to just six.

Red Bull’s Dutch world champion Max Verstappen, who gave his compatriot and friend a pep talk before the race and lined up alongside him on the grid, congratulated de Vries on a great job.

“He just kept his cool, didn’t make mistakes and I’m very happy for him to score the points,” he said.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)