De Vries stunned by speed of F1 turnaround after Monza

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It looked as though Dutch driver Nyck de Vries was on a definite course into Formula 1 after winning the 2019 F2 championship, only to find the doors closed when he came calling for a full-time race seat.

Even winning the 2021 Formula E world championship with Mercedes failed to bring any opportunities, and it looked as though he would never get his chance to make it onto the Grand Prix grid.

"To be honest, there were more times when I thought it was never going to happen than when it did," de Vries told Day1 YouTube channel host Jay Jay Boske.

"I had days when I thought 'This is not going to happen anymore.' But deep down, I always kept some kind of faith despite the fact that I have been rejected four times since 2021.

"After I won F2, there was no place for me in Formula 1. That's kind of a rejection," he acknowledged. "In 2021, I won the Formula E championship and we were very close, but it didn't work out in the end.

"I didn't get frustrated with that, because at the same time I was very happy with what I did have and the opportunities that I did get.

"But on the other hand I was constantly present at Formula 1 weekends, and then it is very in your face that you are not driving. You are very close and at the same time, very far away.

Nyck de Vries (NLD) AlphaTauri AT03. 22.11.2022. Formula 1 Testing, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, Tuesday

"During last season there were maybe two or three moments when there was serious talk about my future, and every time there had to be an answer," he explained, adding that the answer was always no because of his other obligations.

He did make a number of free practice outings during the season with Williams, Mercedes and Aston Martin, but he seemed no closer to achieving his goal of racing in F1 full-time. And then Monza happened.

De Vries had just finished his latest FP1 outing when he was called to the Williams office and told he would be driving in the Italian GP, after regular driver Alex Albon had been hospitalised with appendicitis.

De Vries went on to qualify in the top ten, and the following day finished his maiden race in the points. Suddenly all the teams that hadn't been interested in signing him up were clamouring at his door.

“It’s extraordinary how shameless some people are,” the 27-year-old told Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf this week.

“Types you haven’t heard from in a long time or who haven’t exactly been my biggest supporters and then they contact me again!

"After that race in Monza, all kinds of people suddenly came my way who wanted something from me. I have to shield myself from that.”

At the time de Vries managed his own business affairs. He ended up with a contract to drive for AlphaTauri in 2023 and will line up alongside team mate Yuki Tsunoda in the season opener in Bahrain in March.

Since then de Vries has signed Guillaume Le Goff as his manager to protect himself from the sudden elevation in fame.

“I need people around me that I trust and can build on. Guillaume, for example, I have known for more than 10 years," he said, when asked about the team he's been building around him in the last few months.

"My sister will take care of merchandise, the webshop and things like that. And in the background, my father also takes care of a lot of things for me."

Even though he's already been a proven motor racing world champion, de Vries knows that 2023 will be a whole new challenge for him.

"This will be my first year in Formula 1. I would like to command respect through my performance [on the track] and not through what I say on television.

"I will remain the same guy as before, in that respect nothing will change," he insisted. “I’m also not concerned with how I’m perceived by the outside world."

De Vries is replacing Pierre Gasly at Faenza. The team struggled last season, dropping from sixth in the 2021 constructors championship to penultimate place in ninth in 2022.

Team boss Franz Tost is hoping that new blood behind the wheel will help to reverse that decline this year. "He is fast. I know what he has accomplished," he said of his new signing.

"I've seen him go karting in 2011 or 2012 and he was already very successful at that time," he added. "Actually in all categories where he has raced: Formula Renault, GP3, Formula 2 and also Formula E where he was world champion."

Tost admitted that de Vries' super-sub success at Monza had made the difference in the decision to hire him.

"This has been very influential as it showed his true potential," he said. "He drove a fantastic race and made no mistakes so it was an easy choice to go for him."

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