Newly crowned Formula 2 champion Nyck de Vries said this week that he had tried – and failed – to find a way into F1 in 2020 after dominating the support series this year.
The 24-year old Dutch driver secured the title in Sochi last week, following victory in the Saturday feature race with defending team champions ART.
Previous F2 champions Charles Leclerc and George Russell were able to make an immediate step up to F1 the following season. Last year’s second- and third-placed drivers, Lando Norris and Alexander Albon, also made the rapid transition to the F1 grid this season.
Before that, GP2 champions Pierre Gasly, Stoffel Vandoorne and Jolyon Palmer were also quickly snapped up by F1 teams. But de Vries won’t be following in their footsteps – at least, not next year.
“Over the past five years the champion has been promoted to Formula 1 and last year even to the top three,” he commented.
“However, there are no guarantees, and I was aware of that. I have no control over that, so I can’t worry about it.”
Instead he will be racing in the 2019/20 ABB FIA Formula E all-electric series with Mercedes, as team mate to Vandoorne. He will also test a Toyota LMP1 car for the first time in December as part of the FIA World Endurance Championship rookie test in Bahrain.
“We are looking forward to working with Nyck at the Bahrain rookie test,” said Toyota technical director Pascal Vasselon. “He is clearly a talented driver with a lot of potential, as he has proved in Formula 2.”
De Vries is already a WEC regular with the Racing Team Nederland LMP2 squad. While excited about the emerging challenges in both WEC and Formula E, de Vries admitted that he had been trying to find a spot on the F1 paddock only to find there were no seats available.
“I’ve had several conversations but there just wasn’t enough movement,” he told Dutch television channel Ziggo Sport this week. “Everyone more or less stayed where they are.
“Of course Formula 1 is still the dream, but in the current situation that was not realistic,” he conceded. “As a kid you dream about F1 and the route towards F1.”
De Vries said that moving to Formula E was the next best thing, as it gave him a new relationship with the Mercedes marque that might open doors in the future.
“I think this is by far the best step for my career, I am very grateful for this opportunity at Mercedes,” he insisted. “Today above all I’m happy and proud to be a Mercedes driver.
“Mercedes has four cars with which they race all over the world: two in Formula 1 and two in Formula E. And I occupy one of them!”