Russell, Albon, and Norris were all signed to F1 teams for the following year, with de Vries debating a career in Formula E, before deciding to move to ART Grand Prix for the 2019 F2 season.
Here, the Dutchman would finally reach his full potential, beating out Nicholas Latifi to win an F2 title with one round to spare. In the same year, he would also leave McLaren to join Mercedes, making the decision to join Formula E – making his race debut before the F2 season had even concluded.
Formula E provided de Vries with new challenges, finishing 11th in the drivers’ standings in his first season whilst simultaneously acting as Mercedes’ reserve F1 driver. But he reached new heights of performance in 2021, securing a Formula E world title over rivals Edoardo Mortara and Jake Dennis, with standout drives in Saudi Arabia and Spain.
Sensing an opportunity to finally capture a full-time seat in F1, De Vries dropped to ninth in the Formula E standings in 2022, prioritising free practice opportunities with Mercedes, Aston Martin, and Williams. He performed well in each, impressing on a wide variety of grand prix circuits including Circuit de Catalunya and Paul Ricard. But it was ultimately a stand-in drive at Monza that sealed his F1 future.
A chance at Formula 1
Competent drives during practice sessions certainly played their part in earning de Vries a full-time F1 seat, but his heroic performance at the 2022 Italian Grand Prix almost definitely sealed the deal. With Alex Albon forced to the side-lines, recovering from appendicitis surgery, de Vries was called up to replace the Thai driver, stepping into the Williams for the first time in free practice one.
The Dutchman proved his worth immediately, out-qualifying teammate Nicholas Latifi by a tenth of a second and starting in 13th for Sunday’s race. A quick start saw him immediately jump up into the top ten, crossing the line in eighth at the end of lap one, before settling into ninth for the majority of the race. Calm and collected defensive driving allowed him to survive the attacks of Zhou Guanyu and Esteban Ocon in the closing stages, ultimately finishing a brilliant ninth.
He was rewarded with interest of numerous F1 teams, keen on signing him to a full-time seat, but a seat at AlphaTauri proved the most tempting – partnering Yuki Tsunoda for the 2023 F1 season.