Home FeaturesDriver profiles McLaren’s teenage flying Dutchman: Nyck de Vries

McLaren’s teenage flying Dutchman: Nyck de Vries

by Peter Allen

Photo: Chris Schotanus

PaddockScout profiles the McLaren protege and double karting world champion, who claimed his first win in single-seaters in Formula Renault NEC last weekend…

Full name: Nyck de Vries
Date of birth:
6 February 1995 (age 17)
Sixth in Eurocup Formula Renault and seventh in Formula Renault NEC standings

Nyck de Vries was marked out as one to watch in January 2010 when he was signed by McLaren to their Young Driver Programme at the age of 14. That season he added the World Karting Championship to a host of titles he had won in his career, and then defended that crown in 2011. He is currently competing in his first season in single-seaters, in the Eurocup Formula Renault and Formula Renault NEC. After podium finishes in both championships, the Dutchman grabbed his first victory in the NEC round on home soil at Assen last weekend.

Nyck was given a kart for his fourth birthday by his father Hendrik Jan, who used to race Renault Clios, and began by driving it in the car park of his father’s car dealership. He then drove at a nearby indoor circuit and started competing aged six. In 2006 he came third in the Dutch ICA Junior Championship, and second in the Belgian Cadet Championship, and then in 2007 he was the runner-up in the Dutch KF3 and Belgian KF3 championships.

In 2008 Nyck moved on to international KF3 competition with successful team owner Dino Chiesa, winning the German junior title and the WSK International Series, as well as finishing runner-up to Daniil Kvyat in the Bridgestone Cup. In 2009 he successfully defended his German and WSK titles, and also added the CIK-FIA European Championship where he beat older rivals Carlos Sainz, Kvyat and Raffaele Marciello. He came second to Kvyat in the Andrea Margutti Trophy, fourth in the Monaco Kart Cup and fifth in the CIK-FIA World Cup.

In January 2010, McLaren announced they had signed de Vries to their driver development programme, and that he would be managed by Anthony Hamilton (whose son Lewis previously benefited from the programme). He had also had interest from Ferrari.

Nyck stepped up to the Super KF class in 2010. He finished second to senior driver Armand Convers in both the WSK Euro Series and World Series. He was third at the CIK-FIA World Cup at Suzuka (won by Oliver Rowland), and won the CIK-FIA World Championship at Zuera in Spain.

Nyck de Vries

Nyck on his way to the world title in 2010 (Photo: CIK/KSP)

In 2011 Nyck defended his World Championship, this time held over five rounds and also won the WSK KF1 Euro Series. At the end of the year he tested for leading Formula Renault teams Josef Kaufmann Racing, Koiranen Motorsport and R-Ace GP. At the start of 2012, he signed with the French R-Ace team, affiliated to ART Grand Prix, to contest the Eurocup and selected Northern European Cup rounds.

His campaign began with the NEC round at Hockenheim, where he took a sixth-place finish from the second of the three races. In the Eurocup season opener at Motorland Aragon he qualified on the front row for the first race behind his old rival Kvyat and finished behind the Russian in second place. He qualified third for the second race and crossed the line in the same place but was later penalised after spinning on the formation lap and retaking his grid spot. Nyck subsequently picked up sponsorship from McLaren partner GSK and their Lucozade brand.

The second weekend of the Eurocup at Spa was a struggle for Nyck, but bounced back at round two of the NEC at the Nurburgring. He qualified in second place behind Stoffel Vandoorne for both races, and finished the two races in fourth and second to pick up his second podium finish. At the same circuit a week later for round three of the Eurocup, Nyck was fourth again in the first race but retired from the wet second race. Next time out at Moscow he started and finished fourth in the second race, after failing to finish the first.

His team skipped the third round of the NEC at Oschersleben but returned last weekend for round four at Assen, Nyck’s home circuit. Nyck started third for the first of the two races, passing teammate Andrea Pizzitola to finish in second place behind winner Jake Dennis. Nyck had claimed pole position for the second race, but a poor start dropped him to eighth. Nyck produced a stunning fight back up the order to claim his maiden victory.

Talent rating: Nyck was virtually unbeatable in karting, but that doesn’t always translate to successful single-seater drivers. It’s still too early in his car racing career to judge just how good Nyck will be, but he’s certainly made a decent start. His qualifying results in particular are impressive, against highly-competitive fields of drivers with more experience. His only problem at the moment are that his race results are a little inconsistent, but that should come with time. 9/10

Chances of getting to F1: Nyck’s still got a long way to go, but he’s looking good to make a quick ascent up the ladder, with the support of McLaren and their partners. Expect him to remain in Formula Renault for a go at the Eurocup title next year before stepping up to either F3 or GP3. Whatever path he takes, he’ll hope to follow in the footsteps of Lewis Hamilton and get a McLaren seat in no time. Don’t bet against it. 8/10

Visit Nyck’s official website
Follow @nyckdevries on Twitter
Visit Nyck’s Wikipedia page

Nyck de Vries

Photo: Renault Sport/DPPI