Written by: Evan Veer, Edited by: Meghana Sree
In the aftermath of the painful end to Nyck de Vries’ Formula 1 season with AlphaTauri it’s easy to write the Dutchman off and simply leave him behind as one of many drivers to have made the jump to F1 without sticking the landing. However, despite his disappointing start to 2023 there is no doubt de Vries is still a well-regarded driver in the motorsport world, and his vast experience in various top level series should leave him with plenty of options for the future. The question then is not if, but rather where the Dutchman might end up racing next season.
To begin with, it’s important to address rumours of de Vries retiring from racing altogether to pursue a different career. Speaking to Racingnews365 de Vries revealed that he liked having time to do other things such as playing golf, and that he will be starting online Harvard courses starting September. Unlike what many outlets have reported, these statements do not rule out a 2024 return, as these courses generally do not take up more than a few full-time work days and thus do not prevent de Vries from continuing his motorsport career going into next year.
When looking for a place for de Vries to return to, the obvious place to start the list would be Formula E, the series that officially made de Vries the first Dutch FIA World Champion back in 2021. After all, before having secured a seat in Formula 1, a deal with the newly rebranded Maserati team had been marked as a near certainty by outlets such as The Race. With a championship and several race wins under his belt, there is no doubt de Vries’ sudden appearance on the driver market will have sparked interest in the Formula E paddock.
However, most seats will already have been locked in at this point of the year, especially amongst the more competitive teams. Although his premature release might have come just in time for him to snatch up a seat, it seems that de Vries’ late entry into the market as well as his inexperience with the current generation of cars will block him from making it into a championship-contending car come next season.
Regardless of whether a deal in Formula E will be made, there are a number of major opportunities up for grabs in the world of motorsports. Endurance prototypes in particular are not unfamiliar to de Vries, who has built up several seasons’ worth of competitive experience driving LMP2 machinery in various championships and one-off races. Additionally, the Dutchman spent years as Toyota’s WEC test and reserve driver and had even been set up for a race seat with the Hypercar team for the 2023 season before being snatched up by Alpha Tauri.
Finding a competitive team should not be an issue due to the exponential growth of the Hypercar class causing a spike in demand for drivers of de Vries’ calibre. The fact that the WEC’s silly season is yet to properly kick off means that a lot is still unclear in terms of what seats may open up in the future, making the task of predicting exactly where de Vries will end up near impossible at this point. A return to familiar ground at Toyota is certainly possible, though the Dutchman would certainly face strong competition from its current lineup of drivers and other well-regarded free agents.
Another less talked about option for de Vries is to head to North America to pursue a career in IndyCar or IMSA, or potentially even both. IndyCar journalist Marshall Pruett recently revealed on his podcast that multiple teams are indeed interested in de Vries, who has impressed at IndyCar tests in the past.
Even a full-time seat in IndyCar can still be paired with a position as a driver for IMSA’s endurance rounds, a combination which simultaneously allows for world-class open-wheel and sportscar racing. This double program has proven popular among drivers, with the likes of Scott Dixon, Helio Castroneves, and Romain Grosjean all currently competing in both series this way; as well as other IndyCar stars taking part in IMSA’s season opener at Daytona.
On top of these options for race seats in other series, there is still a decent chance of seeing de Vries back in F1, in a supporting role similar to his previous work with Mercedes and its customer teams. Toto Wolff has repeatedly praised de Vries’ capabilities when it comes to feedback and car development, however a return to Mercedes has now been ruled out.
In conclusion, there certainly isn’t a dearth of options for de Vries in the world of motorsports, putting him in a unique position when it comes to the variety of opportunities available for next year. The question he now needs to ask himself is what he really wants to do with his career and life moving forward.