As speculation grows that George Russell will leave Williams to join Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes next season and that Valtteri Bottas could join Alfa Romeo, De Vries, the 2019 Formula 2 champion, has been singled out as a potential replacement for Russell.
Vandoorne, who in addition to racing for Mercedes in Formula E is also a reserve driver for Mercedes in F1, has also stepped into the frame for the Grove team seat in a move that would see him meet up with Williams’ new CEO, Jost Got it, with whom he met at McLaren in 2016 and is known to have a good relationship.
After the possible moves for de Vries and Vandoorne gained steam on social media last week, Wolff, in his role as Mercedes sports chief, he told Motorsport.com he expected “a lot” that both drivers would find their way into F1.
As part of his presence at the London E-Prix this weekend, in which De Vries rose from ninth to second place and Vandoorne rose from 14th to seventh on Saturday and the Belgian holds pole for Sunday’s race. Wolff said: “Both drivers have the talent, the work ethic and the intelligence to be in Formula 1. They both won the most important junior series (Formula 2).”
“Stoffel was involved in a situation with McLaren that was difficult to handle in his day. They both deserve to be in Formula 1 and I hope they can find their way back.”
Nyck de Vries, Mercedes Benz EQ, EQ Silver Arrow 02, Stoffel Vandoorne, Mercedes Benz EQ, EQ Silver Arrow 02
Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images
When asked if he would be willing to let the drivers go despite the potential damage it would have to his company’s job in Formula E, Wolff replied: “I am very happy to have you as our drivers in Formula E, I could not wish anyone else. But I would never get in the way of any driver if I had the chance to drive in Formula 1. “
Commenting on the links to the Williams set, De Vries said to Motorsport.com: “I also read that rumor, and it probably surprised them as much as I was. I am very happy with Mercedes and Formula E, and this is where I want to succeed.”
“What happens in the future in the long or medium term, I do not know.”
The opportunity to Vandoorne in F1 he was turned off by finishing 16th with McLaren Racing throughout the 2016 and 2017 seasons when he was teammates with Fernando Alonso. The Belgian was on the mark to replace Hamilton for the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix when the seven-time world champion tested positive for COVID-19, but the car ultimately went to Russell that weekend.
When asked if Vandoorne considered that Wolff and Mercedes owed him a favor for that occasion, he said: “I don’t think that way, to be honest. Formula 1, for my part, I’ve already had a chance to be there.”
“I’ve been there with McLaren, not in the best conditions, let’s say. For me it’s not like an obligation, it’s not an obsession, like I had to be there.
“Things are on the up (at Williams) but it’s not on my mind.”