ART Grand Prix Formula 2 driver Nyck de Vries confirms his exit as a simulator driver for the McLaren F1 Team, and feels that he was better than Formula 1 rookies Lando Norris and Alexander Albon.
de Vries currently is in his third season in FIA Formula 2 with drivers’ champion ART, having finished last year’s F2 campaign with Prema Racing fourth overall behind F1 promoted drivers George Russell, Norris and Albon.
The Dutch driver had been a product of McLaren’s junior programme since 2010, but lost out to fellow McLaren junior Norris last year, whose serge at the top of F2 earned him a seat within the F1 team.
Last year, de Vries spoke about how McLaren will reward a junior driver within the team with an F1 drive, if they win the series. Neither Norris or de Vries won the championship, but Norris was handed a race seat at McLaren for his efforts to finish second overall in his rookie season and when both Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne lost their drives.
de Vries recently confirmed to Dutch newspaper, De Telegraaf that he no longer does simulator work for the Woking based team and is looking to forge his own path into F1 within F2 this year.
“I no longer do simulator work for McLaren,” said de Vries. “Well for a different team? I can’t say anything else about it.
“Ultimately it is all about what I am doing here. That will have the most influence on my future, so I am mainly concerned with that. “
The twenty-four year old joined ART in a bid to mount a title charge in 2019 and looked to be the title favourite having set the pace for majority of pre-season testing. de Vries has claimed one podium finish in the Baku feature race with second place and a fourth place in the sprint race.
The Dutch driver lies fourth overall in the drivers’ championship after two rounds in the F2 championship.
de Vries commented about how he is enjoying racing with the French squad, a team he previously raced with during the 2016 GP3 Series.
“I’m really enjoying myself. To date, I feel the best in this environment when I compare it to previous teams. There is no finger-wise culture or enormous hierarchy. I like that approach and way of working.”
Having been labelled as a title favourite, de Vries is hoping that he can earn his way into F1, following previous F2/GP2 champions who made the step up to the sport.
Despite finishing behind both Norris and Albon, de Vries told Het Friesch Dagblad that he felt that he was better than both drivers’, having achieved more race wins than Norris and only falling one short from Albon’s total in 2018.
“The last seven champions were all promoted to Formula 1. I don’t want to sound arrogant at all, but Norris and Albon were really no better than me,” commented de Vries
“Norris won only one race, Albon won four and I won three.”