MERCEDES could lose their reserve driver to a rival team after Sebastian Vettel announced his retirement.
F1 preview: A lap of the Hungarian Grand Prix
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Mercedes may be concerned after Lewis Hamilton’s potential replacement dropped a major hint over his ambitions to race in F1 after Sebastian Vettel announced his retirement. Nyck de Vries stepped in for Hamilton in FP1 at the French Grand Prix and has been touted as Toto Wolff’s “insurance policy” in case the seven-time champion quit the sport.
However, De Vries has hinted he may not be on the Formula E grid next season just days after Vettel’s shock announcement. It sets up a move away from Mercedes to Aston Martin in what could be a blow to the Silver Arrows.
Speaking ahead of the London E-Prix, the Dutchman admitted it was “very unlikely” he will remain with McLaren when Mercedes quit the fully-electric series at the end of this season.
The 27-year-old has also addressed the possibility of securing a full-time F1 drive for next season. It comes after De Vries name was suggested by many as a possible replacement for Vettel at Aston Martin for next season.
He admitted it would be a “dream” to get the seat but stressed it was “not his call”. He added of a drive in F1: “It is of course everyone’s dream and everyone’s goal. I’d be lying if I said that wasn’t the case, but that is out of my control.
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De Vries has has been tipped as Vettel’s replacement at Aston Martin (Image: Getty)
“I feel flattered that my name is mentioned but ultimately it is not my call so I just have to focus on my goals on track and we’ll see where that goes.” The Mercedes reserve driver has struggled to get a full-time F1 drive despite his notable success.
He picked up the Formula Two crown in 2109 and went on to win the Formula E championship a year later in 2020/21. De Vries has also enjoyed sportscar experience, competing at the 24 Hours of Le Mans on several occasions.
He has now taken part in two F1 practice sessions after getting behind a Williams at the Spanish Grand Prix before his Mercedes drive in France. Sky Sports F1 pundit Martin Brundle listed De Vries as one of his preferred options to replace Vettel ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix.
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Nyck de Vries stepped in for Hamilton in France (Image: Getty)
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff admitted the Silver Arrows may need to let De Vries leave the team if they cannot offer him a good programme. This could open the door for one of their rival F1 teams to sweep in and sign up his services.
Speaking at Le Castellet, Wolff explained: “I think if we are not able to provide him with an interesting Formula One project, in a way we need to let him go He’s looking at various options, sportscars, maybe Formula E, but you just must never give up on the opportunity that one day a Formula One door can open.”