De Vries deal “complicated” for Alfa Romeo because of Mercedes connection

2021 F1 season

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Nyck de Vries’ hopes of moving into Formula 1 next year could be frustrated by the Formula E world champion’s connection to Mercedes.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has said he is keen to find a place for De Vries on the grid next year following George Russell’s promotion to the world champions’ team.

However Williams’ confirmation yesterday that Red Bull-backed driver Alexander Albon will take Russell’s place at the team next year, alongside Nicholas Latifi, closed one door to De Vries.

The only likely avenue left for De Vries to enter Formula 1 is at Alfa Romeo, which has signed Valtteri Bottas to occupy one of its two seats next season. However team principal Frederic Vasseur told RaceFans there were complications involved in the Ferrari customer team hiring a Mercedes-backed driver.

“De Vries looks complicated for me because he is strongly linked to Mercedes,” said Vasseur. “It’s much easier for us to deal with someone who is under contract with Ferrari than with someone who is under contract with Mercedes.”

Incumbent Antonio Giovinazzi, previously a Ferrari junior driver, remains under consideration for a fourth season at the team, said Vasseur.

“He was part of the deal in the past and he will be part of the discussion with Ferrari,” he said. “We have a very strong link and very open discussions and it will never be an issue to deal with Antonio and Ferrari.”

However Vasseur admitted the team is considering a move for one of the front-running drivers in Formula 2. Alpine is known to be keen to find a berth for its junior driver Guanyu Zhou, who currently trails another of their juniors, reigning Formula 3 champion Oscar Piastri, at the top of the standings.

Meanwhile Sauber, which runs Alfa Romeo’s F1 team, also had highly-rated 18-year-old Theo Pourchaire on its junior driver scheme. Vasseur intends to see how the upcoming Formula 2 rounds at Monza and Sochi play out before making his decision.

“By the end of September we’ll have a good picture of the junior series,” he said. “Antonio is part of the family, he did some good steps. I think we are not in a rush to take a decision if you have a look on the global picture.

“I want to be focused on what we are doing, to give them time to show what they can do, all of them, and we will take a decision probably in the beginning of October.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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41 comments on “De Vries deal “complicated” for Alfa Romeo because of Mercedes connection”

  1. I really hope De Vries is chosen over Zhou.

    1. @spafrancorchamps Quite unlikely if the reports about Zhou’s sponsors offering 30m are true.

    2. I like De Vries and he certainly deserves a shot in F1… like so many drivers…. Not sure why you would choose him over one of their own new gun Pourchaise, Zchwartzman, or retaining Giovinnazzi.

      1 thing is not clear for me: is Mike Shum locked at Haas ? Or he is a potential candidate ? He still has to prove a lot, but his first 1/2 season was goodbin that dog of a car and I’m sure Alpha would be pleased to get the media attraction…

  2. I’ve read suggestions Albon had to break his Red Bull ties to go to Williams because of Wolff’s complaint about a Red Bull backed driver using a Mercedes engine, so if that’s true I suppose it’s fair that De Vries would have to break his with Mercedes to tie up with a Ferrari engine?

    1. Coventry Climax
      9th September 2021, 13:36

      Yes, my first thought as well, but then, what mr Wolf always says other persons or teams should do, does never apply to either himself or his own team.

      1. Or alternatively, who does Toto think he is not being happy with a RB in a Mercedes engined team? The cheek of it!
        Fred is not to keen on a Mercedes driver given he has a Ferrari in the back of his car. Mmm, seems fair enough to me.

        1. The difference is FV is the team principal of that team. Toto is not.

          1. So as FV has cited the same reasons as Toto, you agree putting drivers signed to one team in a rival team engined car is an issue. Its just who is doing the complaining that is an issue to you?

    2. Yeah, after Toto’s talk this weekend about Albon and the fact that Red Bull did indeed have to cut ties with Albon to get him into that seat, I would be very upset if Toto kept Nyck stuck in Formula E and outside of his one chance into F1 over this.

      1. Well, then get ready to be very upset since that’s the way Toto is. You thought by being mister nice guy these fellows get into these positions?

    3. Ever heard of a Mercedes driver called Bottas?

      1. Coventry Climax
        9th September 2021, 14:04

        There’s hundreds of them in Finland, what’s your point?

      2. Bottas does no longer have a Mercedes contract in 2022, he never had one that surpassed a single year.
        De Vries as a Mercedes junior has a longer running contract. Mercedes might release them, but they are not too keen on losing him and having to find a new Formula E driver for the final year of that championship.

        1. Indeed, Bottas has only ever had one-year contracts (some with optional extensions) and has commented about having to focus on the present and not the future.

          Thought De Vries would be announced at Williams.

        2. Coventry Climax
          9th September 2021, 17:26

          But that means that mr Wolf says this (looking for an F1 seat for de Vries) and does that (trying to keep him in FE).
          Either way, typically Wolf.

        3. @Bart De Vries isn’t a Mercedes junior and never was. Merely a test&reserve in the F1 team besides being FE driver.

      3. You call that a driver?

    4. @rocketpanda I’m not sure why it would have to be more complicated for NdV than for AA. RBR retains an option on AA’s future post-Williams, and if TW wants a seat for his driver as much as CH did for AA, then they could arrange the same thing. Let him get his feet wet at Alfa Romeo and then retain him again afterwards. Of course I realize contracts can be complicated on several fronts like sponsorships and marketing etc, but RBR and AA and Williams worked it out.

      1. The difference here is, if Albon ever gets recalled in an unlikely event of driver drought in Redbull vs. when NdV would be called to fill in the gaps in the Mercedes’ racing affairs.

      2. It still seems unclear if Albon’s Red Bull link is truly severed, but my argument is simple – if he was forced to cut ties because of Wolff’s insistence of a Red Bull backed driver using a Mercedes engine, then De Vries should have to sever his ties to Mercedes to use a Ferrari one. If De Vries retains heavy Mercedes sponsorship and backing while Albon has – at least on the face of it – lost his to Red Bull, that’s quite unfair.

    5. Not according to RB

      1. @ian dearing He’ll be 100% Williams driver rather than on loan, which is what matters.

        1. Well unless you have a link somewhere all I’m reading is guess work and RB saying they have kept links to Albon and Capito not confirming Albon is free of his RB contract.

    6. @rocketpanda Yes just like Horner insisted for Ocon to be released from the Mercedes program before he could move. That’s the first time we ever heard of such a thing.

  3. Zhou is an Alpine driver. Maybe it’s not so difficult once a driver brings 30m+ euro, ey Fred?

    Poor Nyck. Not saying he definitely deserves a seat, but he’s up there with those that do, and he’s better than at least 3 of next year’s drivers.

    1. @hahostolze Additionally, he’d probably leave Alpine.

  4. I really hope that the seat does not just go to the highest bidder in Financial terms. I guess this is likely to be Zhou and his backers. He might be the best choice in driver terms of course but reading between the lines it seems not.

  5. I doubt somehow that two performances in the next fortnight really make a massive difference in their decision making.

    Probably more of playing them off against each other whilst reminding them Antonio is a simple safe bet and they don’t need to take whatever is on the table.

  6. Alfa Romeo doesn’t have the Ferrari requirement anymore, which means Gio isn’t a must, although still an option.
    I’m surprised no one mentions Shwartzman and Ilott, especially the former.
    I have a feeling Zhou will eventually become Bottas’ teammate through his backing + partly nationality.
    Next season is probably too soon for Pouchaire, so I’m surprised people still mention him, even though Vasseur has also made this point.

  7. Anyone following the current F2 season can clearly see that it’s too early to bring Theo Pourchaire into F1. He needs at the very least a second year in F2. But he does look like a fantastic prospect!!

  8. We want Vandoorme !!

  9. I think that Giovinazzi is doing very well and should be confirmed, very curious to see him against Bottas, sure that lots of people would be surprised…
    The risk is that they may pick a paying driver, as Zhou, even if strange that A.R. may stage in a renault driver.
    De Vries does not seem a real option, though Wolf may be influential…

    1. the thing is, are we sure Giovinazzi is doing good? or it’s just that Kimi’s overall performance has hit rock bottom?

      1. This is the reason I’d like to see Giovinazzi team up with Bottas even if it is just for 2022. It would be great to see some data to compare Bottas to Kimi.

      2. Qualify the Alfa Romeo 7th on the grid was definitely the highlight of the Dutch race. Not his fault of the team keep screwing his race strategy…

      3. I think so, but it seems that the car offers very poor occasions to show up, as the 7th place in Zandwort…btw, the TV also fails to show his good overtakes, as in montecarlo and Zandwort. However the team messes up quite too much. We may say that both Gio and even more Kimi did not manage to build some right attitudes and mentality in the team.

  10. Alfa questioning taking De Vries because of his Merc links but are interested in Zhou who has Alpine hence Renault links? I’m not sure I follow his logic unless his logic was by complaining about De Vries being tied to a Merc contract he might then be released from said contract? Similar to Albon in the Williams?

  11. What if Mick moves up to Alfa and Zhou to Haas?

    Would be interesting to see Haas, an American team, with Russian and Chinese drivers behind the wheels. Would be a true international team.

  12. It’s a shame that Nyck didn’t get that Williams seat.

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