Formula E world champion Nyck de Vries says he has been “flattered” by speculation linking him to a Formula 1 drive but his chance of a surprise career change is fading.
De Vries joined Mercedes after his 2019 title-winning Formula 2 season, and won Formula E title in his sophomore campaign in 2020-21.
He looked like a leading contender for one of the remaining seats at either Williams or Alfa Romeo.
But despite Mercedes’ desire to get him in at its customer team, Williams opted to sign Alex Albon to partner Nicholas Latifi.
That means the only option is Alfa Romeo but this seems unlikely, possibly because of de Vries’ Mercedes affiliation and the close connection between Alfa Romeo and Ferrari – although Ferrari has claimed manufacturers should not influence which driver its engine customers choose.
Alfa Romeo CEO Fred Vasseur admitted that de Vries’ Mercedes affiliation is “not the most comfortable situation” for a Ferrari-powered team to consider.
“I think Nyck did a good job in the junior series, he won F2 with ART, he won Formula E this season and did a good job when he jumped in the F1 car in Abu Dhabi last year,” said Vasseur.
“I know him very well because he drove for ART a couple of years in the past. [But] the situation with Mercedes is not an easy one.”
De Vries appears to be further down the priority list for Alfa Romeo which is believed to be favouring Alpine junior and Formula 2 frontrunner Zhou, who has strong financial backing also.
Alfa Romeo has eyes on promoting Sauber junior Theo Pourchaire in 2023, which means whoever partners Bottas in 2022 is likely to only be a short-term option.
It could instead retain current driver Antonio Giovinazzi to ensure some continuity.
Speaking to The Race, de Vries said that he was “very flattered and honoured that my name is linked to a couple of Formula 1 teams”.
“I’m also honoured by the words that that especially Toto (Wolff) has said about me,” he added.
“But ultimately, I’m very well aware that in this world things change very quickly.
“I’m a very realistic person and I always focus on what’s the duty of today. That’s really where my focus is, so what the future brings, I don’t know.
The Race understands that Mercedes EQ had made tentative enquiries on possible replacements for de Vries had he accepted an offer to move to F1.
Although the team would not confirm any names, one of those believed to have been in contention is Rene Rast, but a rival manufacturer – Rast is contracted to Audi – would be unlikely to let him go.
Antonio Felix da Costa is known to be seriously unsettled at DS Techeetah as its growing issues continue to be addressed ahead of today’s 2022 team registration deadline to Formula E Operations.
Da Costa’s manager Tiago Monteiro is believed to have had contact with Mercedes EQ in recent weeks but it is not clear to what extent any talks have developed beyond plotting the possibilities should de Vries head for F1.
De Vries, who travelled to Monza this morning to fulfil his role as Mercedes’ reserve driver this weekend, acknowledged that “things change quickly anyway” and that in order to “continue to open or to earn my opportunities and open up doors going forward in my career” he will have to continue to “deliver and to perform in every race and weekend I do.”
“That’s where my focus and passion is actually and what all the rumours concern, you know, that’s also media and I have nothing to tell you. Time will tell.”