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Shovlin: Mercedes 'might regret' letting go de Vries

Mercedes might well regret releasing Nyck de Vries to Red Bull says trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin, given the rookie’s shining prospects in F1.

De Vries made the most of a chance opportunity to make his F1 debut with Williams at last September’s Italian Grand Prix at Monza, where the Mercedes reserve filled in at the last hour for an ill Alex Albon.

The 27-year-old apprentice scored a remarkable P9 finish after a flawless race and instantly became the talk of the paddock.

Many believed that Mercedes would seal a deal with Williams and place its protégé with the British outfit for 2023, but the latter ultimately opted to entrust its second car to fellow-debutant Logan Sargeant.

Cue Red Bull’s Helmut Marko who opportunistically snapped up de Vries to fill Pierre Gasly’s vacant seat at AlphaTauri.

Speaking in a new book titled Max & Nyck that chronicles the careers of Max Verstappen and de Vries, Shovlin admits that it might not be too long before Mercedes kicks itself for releasing de Vries to its arch-rival.

“I have no doubt Nyck has the ability to win races if he is with the right team and with the right car,” Shovlin commented.

“Whether he can become world champion will be down to him. He has less time to achieve it given his age, but he makes up for that with his experience.

“We had an agreement with Nyck that if we couldn’t put him with a Mercedes team, he could go for the best option. And we might regret letting him go.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s not long when we’re racing against him in the Red Bull factory team. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if that happened in the next 12 months or so.”

  • Read also: De Vries relishing ‘opportunity to live my dream’

Shovlin acknowledged that retaining de Vries as Mercedes’ reserve driver would have likely been detrimental to the Dutchman’s F1 career.

However, Shovlin suggested that a future at Mercedes may still await de Vries at some point down the road.

“He fitted in our team very well, but you can’t hold someone back,” he added. “He was the ideal test and reserve driver for us.

“If we could have kept him on the shelf to use him when needed, we would have done that, but then we would have prevented a driver pursuing his dream.

Nyck de Vries (NLD) AlphaTauri AT03. 22.11.2022. Formula 1 Testing, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, Tuesday.

“With his Formula E title, he has meant a lot to the Mercedes brand and he has also been excellent as a reserve driver. That is why we also wanted to help him further.

“This is also important for the future. The chance of Nyck wanting to come back to this team will be influenced by how fair we’ve been with him over the years.

“There’s nothing to say that Nyck won’t be driving a Mercedes one day in the future.”

Shovlin says he wasn’t surprised to see Red Bull step in and offer de Vries an AlphaTauri contract. But the Briton was puzzled by the fact that there were not more offers on the table for the Dutchman’s services, and he has an idea why.

“What I think was weird was that there wasn’t more of a fight over his services,” he said.

“Only Red Bull made a call purely based on ability. And I think there were political elements behind him not getting a seat elsewhere.”

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