Formula E: Could the sport's newest champion be lined up for an F1 seat?
Newly-crowned FIA ABB Formula E Champion Nyck de Vries could be on course to compete in Formula One next year with Williams.
As the rumour mill continues during the F1 Summer Break, the finale of Formula E's Seventh Season came to a thrilling climax in Berlin as Nyck de Vries became the sports first official FIA-recognised World Champion.
HISTORY MADE: de Vries is the sixth driver to win the championship but is the first to be officially recognised by the FIA
Driving for the Mercedes Benz-EQ team alongside ex F1 driver Stoffel Vandoorne, both drivers helped clinch the Championship for the German manufacturer in only their second season of competing in the all-electric championship.
For Dutchman de Vries, he came into the double-header in Berlin at the top of the standings and despite retiring in the first race, he was still the driver to beat come the second race. As his title-rivals fell by the wayside, de Vries clinched the championship as he finished the ePrix in eighth.
Taking his maiden win in the series at the start of the season in Saudi Arabia, de Vries went onto win in Valencia. Two further podiums followed in what has been a highly impressive two seasons for the young Dutchman so much so that he's on the short-list to drive in F1 for 2022.
With George Russell in the box seat, although rumours say that the deal is already in place, to partner Seven Time World Champion Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes, a vacant spot at Williams is being hotly contested.
DESTINED FOR SUCCESS: Throughout his three years at Williams, Russell has out-performed the car and many predict he's destined for the F1 title
If Russell is set to join Mercedes, this leaves one, potentially two seats avaliable at Williams with Nicholas Latifi's contract ending at the conclusion of this year. Reports suggest that the seat is Latifi's but the Canadian has to perform better and start to match Russell in qualifying if he's to extend his F1 stay.
With new ownership in Dorilton Capital, new leadership in Jost Capito and no need to rely on 'pay-drivers', Latifi may not be the front-running candidate in Williams' long-list of potential drivers.
Williams have a relationship with Mercedes of whom supply engines, gearboxs and more to the Grove team. It just so happens that both de Vries and Vandoorne are Reserve Drivers for Mercedes. Coupled with Mercedes' decision to exit Formula E ahead of the next Gen regulations about to come into force in 2023, speculation has mounted that either de Vries and Vandoorne could be in the running for the F1 seat.
Vandoorne, who's had previous experience of driving in F1, drove for McLaren for the 2017 and 2018 Seasons but could not match the results of Two Time World Champion Fernando Alonso. This was also at the time where McLaren could not produce a car capable of points, let alone finishing races.
NEWFOUND HOME: Vandoorne has impressed since arriving on the Formula E scene and to the delight of his fans, he's been able to achieve some success
Given this, many see Vandoorne's time in F1 as blurred and it's a memory many can't forgot. The Belgian however did win F1's junior Series, GP2 in 2015 and was a long-time member of McLaren's Young Driver Programme having signed on-board in early 2013.
However, de Vries is still the front-running candidate between the two drivers having finished the second half of the Formula E stronger and able to clinch the title.
Commenting on his future, de Vries remained open. He said: “I think it would be a good sign. If it happens, I don’t know."
“It’s nice to hear that people talk about it but apart from that I’ll wait and see what happens in the next couple of months and what my future will look like.”
Other drivers who appear to be in the mix to drive at Williams next season include current Mercedes F1 driver and Nine-Time Grand Prix Winner Valterri Bottas.
The Finn drove for Williams from 2013 to 2016 before moving to Mercedes to partner Hamilton but his 2021 Season hasn't gone to plan. He's yet to win a race, finish higher than third and lies fourth in the championship and is 87 points behind points-leader Hamilton.
Other F1 drivers who are in the mix are current Reserve Drivers for Aston Martin and Alpine are Nico Hulkenberg and Daniil Kvyat.
Reserve Driver for Red Bull, Alexander Albon is also in the frame having competed a full-season in 2020 with Red Bull before being dropped in favour of Sergio Perez.
Young Chinese driver, Guanyu Zhou, is also in the mix and is currently sitting in second place in the F2 Championship. He's apart of Alpine's Young Driver Academy but with limited options there, his management are looking around to see where he might fit in. He’s an outsider, with his lack of F1 experience holding him back, but with sufficient backing, he might still have a chance.
Mercedes hold the key to the F1 Driver market and it won't be long until they announce their plans which will allow the other teams to make their decisions. For de Vries, he's put himself in the best place to be considered for the seat and ultimately if he's not chosen, he'll more than likely defend his Formula E crown.