Nyck de Vries was the top performer after finishing eighth at the Italian Grand Prix after being called to substitute Alex Albon at Williams.
De Vries has put himself in a strong position to get a full-time seat in 2023 with a superb race at Monza, scoring points on his debut for the Grove-based team.
De Vries replaced Sebastian Vettel at Aston Martin for FP1. However, as the Dutchman was preparing to relax into the race week, he got called up to race for Williams after Alex Albon was ruled out with appendicitis on Saturday morning.
The F2 and FE champion straightaway found pace in the car as he put his Williams into Q2 while his teammate Nicholas Latifi got knocked out in Q1. De Vries started 8th after grid penalties were applied.
In the race, Latifi plodded at the back of the grid while de Vries ran inside the top 10. His stout defence and a late Safety Car resulted in de Vries scoring points on his F1 debut.
De Vries along with Formula 2 racer Logan Sargeant and Haas driver Mick Schumacher are all contenders to replace Latifi at the Grove-based outfit for the upcoming season. Latifi’s father, Michael has been a significant Williams sponsor but it now looks all but certain that Latifi will lose his seat.
Damon Hill tears into Latifi
Presenter Simon Lazenby sympathized with Latifi as the Sky Sports F1 team analyzed De Vries’ performance, but the ex-Williams driver and former world champion Damon Hill was very blunt about the Canadian’s performance.
“I’m sorry but this is the way it is,”
“In this case, Nicholas hasn’t got the pace that he needs to stay in that position in Formula 1. He’s had some good moments but along comes a guy who’s not even driven in the Grand Prix before, and he’s done a fantastic job.
“I know he [De Vries] had grid penalties and stuff like that, which helped him up the grid, but he still delivered in qualifying and didn’t really make a mistake.
“He’s done enough for us to be talking about him, he’s got Toto [Wolff] talking about him. That’s what you need to be doing to be a Formula 1 driver.”
De Vries currently occupies a reserve driver role for Mercedes but Mercedes boss Toto Wolff is willing to let De Vries leave Mercedes to find a race seat elsewhere on the grid.
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