Former World Champion Nyck de Vries close to signing contract: Formula E return instead of endurance racing?
Around a year after his departure from Mercedes-EQ the 2021 World Champion Nyck de Vries is about to return to Formula E after a brief Formula 1 guest appearance. Although he was recently still considered a hot candidate for a place in the World Endurance Championship WEC, scheduling conflicts of the WEC with the electric racing series could even free up the cockpit of another Formula E World Champion.
The last twelve months in Nyck de Vries' career read like a rollercoaster ride: In September last year, the Dutchman made his debut at Williams as a replacement for the ill Alexander Albon in the Formula One World Championship. At the Italian Grand Prix in Monza, he impressed straight away and finished the race in a strong ninth place. Accordingly, the enthusiasm in F1 was so great about the 2019 Formula 2 champion that he was offered a place with the Red Bull junior team AlphaTauri for 2023.
Although he had previously signed a contract with Maserati MSG Racing, he left the electric racing series. The Monegasques had to look for a new driver and signed Maximilian Günther instead.
De Vries, on the other hand, failed to build on his performance at Monza in 2023 with AlphaTauri and was sacked after just ten races. He subsequently held talks with Toyota about a hypercar cockpit in the World Endurance Championship - he had already been test and reserve driver for the Japanese company in parallel to his Formula E commitment before. The Dutchman refreshed his Formula E contacts in parallel during a visit to the London E-Prix in July.
Even though he was given a good chance of a regular Toyota cockpit, there are growing signs that de Vries will return to Formula E in 2024. This is reported by The Race. One possible reason for this is date clashes between the two racing series, which hinder a double programme. For example, the WEC pre-season test (officially called Prologue) at the end of February in Qatar overlaps with a planned Formula E race without a venue - probably Cape Town. The Berlin E-Prix runs in parallel with the WEC race in Spa, Belgium, and the test day for the 24 Hours of Le Mans will again take place at the same time as the Jakarta E-Prix.
Limited options available for de Vries
As most Formula E teams have already unveiled their driver pairings or - as in the case of DS Penske and Porsche - are about to do so, de Vries' options in the electric racing series are manageable: apart from ABT Cupra and Mahindra, only Maserati MSG Racing has a vacant cockpit as things stand. However, it is unclear whether the Monegasques, who a few days ago announced the surprising separation from their long-time driver Edoardo Mortara, would sign de Vries for a second time.
There may be another option for de Vries: Stoffel Vandoorne was recently promoted to regular driver in the World Endurance Championship by Peugeot. Here he is to share a cockpit with ABT Cupra driver Nico Müller and former Dragon Racing driver Loic Duval. Whether Peugeot would be prepared to do without two of the three regular drivers at the same time because of the scheduling conflicts with Formula E is questionable.
There are already first rumors about a possible departure of Vandoorne from DS Penske after a disappointing 2023 season. It will become clear in just a few days: The US team and the French manufacturer will present their Formula E line-up for 2024 on 28 September. e-Formula.news will attend the season launch and report.