De Vries pleased with qualifying debut despite accidental brake balance error

2022 Italian Grand Prix

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Nyck de Vries says he had a “decent” first-ever qualifying session in Formula 1, reaching Q2 after an unexpected call-up to the Williams team.

The 2019 Formula 2 champion and 2021 Formula E world champion will make his F1 debut in tomorrow’s Italian Grand Prix in place of Alexander Albon, who was forced to withdraw from the weekend after contracting appendicitis.

De Vries out-qualified Williams team mate Nicholas Latifi and reached Q2. He was eliminated in 13th place but stands to move up to eighth on the grid for the race, alongside Max Verstappen in the Red Bull.

After driving Sebastian Vettel’s Aston Martin on Friday’s first practice, De Vries admitted it had not been easy to adapt back to the Williams the following day, despite having driven the Williams FW44 during practice for the Spanish Grand Prix in May.

“It was tricky,” said De Vries. “I think that’s the only disappointment I have from our qualifying session, because I felt like there was probably more in it, more potential, and we just didn’t quite succeed to put it together.

“I think my second lap in Q1 was very competitive, which was a ‘22.1, which was just on the edge of being good enough for Q3. But the run in Q2 was just not quite as smooth. You can’t really expect anything else at such short time notice, but I think we’ll take it anyway.”

De Vries was on course to improve on his final lap in Q2 before an error under braking for the Roggia chicane ruined his final attempt, resulting in his elimination. The Dutch driver admits he mistakenly changed a setting on his steering wheel before the braking zone, which led to the mistake.

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“I do feel there was more in it – especially in the last run of Q2,” he said.

“I hit a brake balance switch which moved the brake balance a percent rearwards and that’s why I locked up my rears going into four and lost my lap. But ultimately to get through to Q2 and be in the mix I think was a decent job on such a short notice.”

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Monza, 2022
Gallery: 2022 Italian Grand Prix qualifying day in pictures
Albon’s absence from the weekend came unexpectedly for both Williams and their driver. He has since confirmed in a post on social media he is recovering after successful surgery.

De Vries described the moment he suddenly learned that he would be making his grand prix debut while watching the FIA Formula 3 sprint race early on Saturday morning.

“I was having a coffee in the Paddock Club for an appearance,” De Vries explained. “It was very quiet early in the morning, so I was watching the F3 podium with a cappuccino and then James Vowles gave me a ring and I had to come down quickly to Mercedes.

“Everyone was pretty happy. I kind of tried to manage expectations a little bit, saying ‘let’s wait’. So then I went down to Williams and, unfortunately, Alex was ill, but hopefully he will be back soon and recover quickly. Then during the FP3 briefing, it kind of became clear that it was my duty to be in the car for FP3 and the rest of the weekend.”

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2022 Italian Grand Prix

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Author information

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...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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8 comments on “De Vries pleased with qualifying debut despite accidental brake balance error”

  1. What an amazing performance from him today. Give this man a racing seat for next year!

    1. Yeah, defenitely. Showed he can be right there on pace where we would have probably expected Albon to be but with very little preparation and car knowledge.

    2. It was nice to see him do well. There is so much talent outside of F1 that would be nice to see be given a chance, all the more so given that the vast majority of F1 drivers has already done 100 Grand Prix.

  2. De Vries did well, but this reflects most badly on Latifi actually, that’s the weak link at Williams sadly.

  3. Good to hear he was watching the F3 like a proper RaceFan.
    I guess Monza’s all about getting your braking right, especially under pressure in qualifying – but plenty of speed in driver and car, and I’ll be cheering him on tomorrow.

  4. Vries did do fp1 and has had more in car time than any replacement driver could expect in this day and age. Latifi is mess, he’d probably turn up with a better lap had he not blown it at t1 but still it would have too close. Because of penalty exploitation, De Vries is starting alongside fellow dutchman Max, what an unusual set of circumstances.

    1. Huh? He did half a FP3 in the Williams? I watched his onboard live and his engineer had to explain, while Nyck was driving, where the buttons and functions on the steering wheels were.

      Yes he drove an Aston Martin in FP1, which I think will only be counterproductive as that is a totally different car in all aspects, apart from the engine.

  5. BLS (@brightlampshade)
    11th September 2022, 10:12

    What an awesome job from De Vries. The race is the big test but I’m sure him and the team will be delighted with how he’s doing so far.

    Bit awkward for Latifi, wonder how much that money is worth from 2023 onwards.

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