De Vries has been snapped up by AlphaTauri for 2023 in the wake of an impressive F1 debut at last year’s Italian Grand Prix, where he scored points after standing in for the unwell Alex Albon at Williams.
And Shovlin, speaking in a new book about the careers of Dutch drivers Max Verstappen and de Vries, does not hold back in stating just how good a driver he thinks the youngster is.
“I have no doubt Nyck has the ability to win races if he is with the right team and with the right car,” Shovlin stated in the book titled Max & Nyck.
“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.”
Nyck de Vries, Mercedes W13
Photo by: Alastair Staley / Motorsport Images
Max & Nyck is being released in the Netherlands and authors Ivo Pakvis and Stijn Keuris analyse Max Verstappen’s impact on Formula 1 and explain how the Red Bull ace contributed to having two Dutch drivers on the grid in 2023.
They also describe de Vries’ unusual route to the top and how the 28-year-old driver grabbed half an opportunity with both hands to make his F1 dream come true.
Despite de Vries’ clear talent, Shovlin said Mercedes could not stand in his way of landing an F1 seat elsewhere when the opportunity came up.
“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.
“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.”
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The fact that Red Bull’s F1 bosses were quick to offer de Vries an AlphaTauri contract after his appearance at Monza did not surprise Shovlin in the least.
“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.”