28 laps on the Barcelona circuit in just under an hour of training time. That is the harvest of Nyck de Vries’ official debut in a Formula 1 weekend. De Fries, who already completed F1 test days at his employer Mercedes in 2020 and 2021, took place in the cockpit of Alexander Albon with Williams rearguard team. A one-off for the time being, but certainly not without merit: he set the eighteenth time and was a fraction faster than the other Williams driver: Nicholas Latifi.
The 27-year-old De Vries is the first to put the importance of the scoreboard into perspective. “It is certainly just as important that I enjoyed it. We sometimes forget that in life: enjoying the moment. I have lived here for years. It went well.”
The tone is set
The fact that De Vries defeated Latifi is mainly for the statistics, but it does feed the rumors that the Canadian’s position is faltering. Earlier this month, a Canadian journalist wrote that Latifi would lose his cockpit at Williams to De Vries after the summer break. The sharp edges of that story have now been denied and swallowed, but the tone has been set.
Latifi – plagued by poor results in the first five races – shrugs in Barcelona. “I’m surprised that articles like this are published without checking whether they are correct. The story is not based on anything. I have read that they are going to fire me. I just laugh about it. I’m still here!”
Latifi denies that De Vries’s one-time entrance increases the pressure on him. “It doesn’t change much for me. It is always useful to put another driver in the car. That always provides useful information that we benefit from as a team.”