Damon Hill issues brutal Nicholas Latifi verdict as De Vries stars at Italian GP

Nyck de Vries put himself in pole position for a full-time seat in 2023 by marking his maiden F1 race with a superb ninth place at the Italian Grand Prix.

The Dutchman, who drove Sebastian Vettel’s Aston Martin in free practice one on Friday, only found out he would be racing this weekend on Saturday morning when Williams’ lead driver Alex Albon was ruled out with appendicitis.

De Vries went on to reach Q2 and qualify 13th, which became eighth once all the various grid penalties were applied. Meanwhile, the team’s other regular driver, Nicholas Latifi, couldn’t get out of Q3 before being completely outpaced by De Vries in the race.

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As well as De Vries, Haas driver Mick Schumacher and Formula 2 star Logan Sargeant are in the frame to partner Albon next season as it now appears to be a formality that Latifi, whose father Michael has been a key Williams sponsor, will lose his seat.

As the Sky Sports F1 team discussed De Vries’s performance, presenter Simon Lazenby expressed his sympathy for Latifi, but former world champion Damon Hill, a former Williams driver, was having none of it.

“I’m sorry but this is the way it is,” he said bluntly. “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.

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“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 is currently contracted to Mercedes as a reserve driver but Wolff is prepared to let him leave to further a career which has seen him win the Formula 2 and Formula E titles.


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