Nyck de Vries had hardly raced in Monza, he indicated in Durf te Dromen, his own documentary on Viaplay. The Dutchman was candid about the moment and the race day, as well as the important and less important messages he received after his first Formula 1 race in Italy. The Formula 1 dream came very close at that time. He had to take advantage of everything about the aftermath of his great performance to end up in Formula 1. And that worked.
The heroic story of De Vries, who was suddenly plucked from Mercedes to fill in for Williams on the Saturday of the race weekend at Monza, is of course already known. The 28-year-old replaced Alexander Albon, the Williams driver, who had to go to hospital due to appendicitis. The Dutchman was called and had to go to Williams immediately, because something big was waiting for him. ‘The Monza weekend clashed with a WEC (World Endurance Championship, ed.) race in Fuji. I had asked permission if I could participate in that’, kicks off De Vries. “That was not possible at first because of the free practice with Aston Martin.” On the Friday of that race weekend, the Frisian drove the first free practice session with the British team, in Sebastian Vettel’s car.
“I was almost disappointed that I couldn’t race in Fuji,” the 28-year-old laughs. “I went to the circuit on Saturday morning and got a call from Mercedes. I had to go to Williams as soon as possible, because Alex (Albon, ed.) Was in hospital with appendicitis.’ And so De Vries ended up in the blue car of the other British racing team on Saturday afternoon. He had to go straight into qualifying with very little preparation. Sunday, however, was even more special, De Vries was also allowed to drive the race. The Dutchman had qualified in P13, but was able to benefit from some grid penalties from other drivers. ‘I was absolutely lucky with the grid penalties’, confirms De Vries. “But I was in the car and everything came together that weekend. The car was good, the Williams was efficient on long stretches. Afterwards I couldn’t move my arms anymore!’
“I’ve been eating pasta from a paper bowl and thought, is this it?”
When De Vries had to climb out of the car after the race, it wasn’t that easy. Fortunately, the 28-year-old was lifted from his car by the mechanics. With adrenaline from the race still fresh in his blood, De Vries left for Monaco again. “That evening I was back in Monaco and I was filling up, completely in my own world, and then Daniel Ricciardo was behind me,” says the AlphaTauri driver. ‘Then we raced home together’, the Dutchman chuckles when he thinks back to the moment. ‘And then I was eating pasta from a paper bowl and thought: is this it? I got a lot of messages after that, important and not important. It’s all very nice, of course, but we have to take advantage of this moment.’
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