De Vries to run first practice for Williams in Spain

2022 Spanish Grand Prix

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Formula E world champion Nyck de Vries will drive in Friday’s first practice session for Williams when he steps in for Alex Albon in Barcelona.

The 2019 Formula 2 champion will run in the first practice on Friday morning – the first time he has participated in an official F1 session in his career.

De Vries becomes the first ‘young driver’ announced to participate in a practice session in 2022. All ten F1 teams are compelled by this year’s regulations to run young drivers in a practice session at least twice during the season.

De Vries says he was grateful to Williams for giving him an opportunity to driver the FW44 on Friday.

“It’s great for me to get to know the team and drive the FW44, and also to get myself out on track during a Formula 1 weekend,” De Vries said. “Preparation for the test is going well so far and the team have been incredibly supportive of me. I’m very much looking forward to the whole experience in Spain now.”

Williams’ head of vehicle performance, Dave Robson, said that De Vries will complete engineering test runs for the team during the morning session.

“We are looking forward to having Nyck de Vries in the car for FP1 as it is always good to work with a new driver and get a fresh opinion on the car’s strengths and weaknesses,” said Robson.

“Nyck’s experience and professionalism will be crucial on Friday as he will complete some of the key engineering tests in FP1 before he hands the car back to Alex for FP2.”

The decision to run De Vries comes after Williams CEO Jost Capito admitted that he had been considered for a potential race seat for 2022, before the team instead opted to sign Alex Albon to the seat.

As a former McLaren junior, De Vries separated from McLaren in 2019 and established a relationship with Mercedes. As well as racing for the Mercedes EQ Formula E team and claiming the series championship in 2021, De Vries has also completed two previous days of F1 testing for McLaren, in 2020 and 2021, most recently at the post-season test in Abu Dhabi last December.

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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14 comments on “De Vries to run first practice for Williams in Spain”

  1. That’s rather sudden and rather suspicious given Latifi’s complete lack of form.

    They wouldn’t replace him before Canada, would they?

    1. Sooner the better, I say. I was initially surprised that they are giving him Alex’s seat for FP1 but perhaps this is so they can form a direct comparison between Nyck and Nicki.

  2. How about letting test drivers do all the Sprint races? Just constructors points to be earned. Starting grid based on WDC standings. More talent will get an opportunity, the WDC F1 competition will keep its integrity and Liberty will get their extra event.

    1. In times where a T-car existed, this could’ve been a thing, but now risking one or both of your cars for some minor WCC points seems counter-productive to a team’s goals.

    2. I do like the idea, but we all know that inexperienced drivers make mistakes and the risk of crashing the car that the main driver needs for the Sunday-race is too big I’m afraid. This could only work when there is a spare car available, but unfortunately that isn’t the case.

    3. The value of the “extra event” would be diluted if it didn’t involve F1’s star drivers. As money is the only reason we have sprint races in the first place, Liberty aren’t going to do anything that might harm its value anytime soon.

      That, and the fact the teams would almost certainly demand additional compensation to mitigate the risk of a test driver wrecking one of the race cars, as @sjaakfoo and @matthijs point out above.

      1. @red-andy:
        Honest question: if that was the format, would you not watch it? Would you not want to see De Vries or a Piastri in a sprint?

        Award more constructor points than they do for a current sprint and you could have a spicy race I think… I’d watch that for sure

  3. The decision to run De Vries comes after Williams CEO Jost Capito admitted that he had been considered for a potential race seat for 2022, before the team instead opted to sign Alex Albon to the seat.

    I think it is fair to say that the team made the correct choice in signing Albon, as he is one of the stars of the season. However, I expect De Vries to do better than Latifi, but the latter comes with a bigger wallet. I don’t see how the financial aspects of sacking Latifi for Williams can be solved.

    1. Williams claim that they no longer need pay drivers thanks to the investment from Dorilton. Latifis contract runs out at the end of this year so I’m hoping they can get him out of that seat early through a performance clause. He’s really been way off Albons pace this year – even further than he was with Russell in 2020/21.

      1. Albon to Mercedes confirmed ;)

  4. Interesting choice & time will tell whether this move eventually proves to be a future indication.

  5. Sounds like the start of a long goodbye to Latifi

  6. I think this is a retaliation from Mercedes in case FIA really ban Hamilton from racing due to his piercings and he doesn’t back down on his word.

  7. In other news, McLaren announce that Gary Paffett will be their young driver this year 😀

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