Even as early as his karting days, the name of Nyck de Vries was known by everybody. The Dutchman was a serial winner and extremely highly rated: for many, he was the next big thing.
He delivered in his early single-seater days too, with Formula Renault title wins, but a tough season with ART Grand Prix in GP3 frustrated. Yet, expectations remained high for his debut in F2 and, with the backing of the McLaren Driver Academy, he sealed seventh.
2018 was then meant to be his year: with a host of rookies at top teams, and a year’s experience behind him. But it didn’t quite pan out like that: three retirements from the first seven races and a series of errors derailed his title charge before it had even begun. People wouldn’t be blamed for wondering whether he would ever fulfil the vast potential he showed in his karting days.
De Vries never let the noise in though. The Dutchman is a methodical and thoughtful character, extremely bright, and he strives for perfection in every asset of his life. He rewired himself ahead of 2019 in many senses, acknowledging that he had made too many risks through his desire to win races and instead focused on consistency.
His 2019 season delivered that in spades. He scored 12 podiums in just 11 rounds on his way to the title, an F2 record, and he scored points in every race bar the final two. De Vries was an extremely worthy champion, who battled his way to the title, and in doing so, earned himself a seat in Formula E with Mercedes-Benz as a professional racing driver for 2020. He will also be a Mercedes' Formula 1 reserve driver for 2021, alongside Stoffel Vandoorne.