Nyck De Vries’s brilliant ninth place on his F1 race debut at the Italian Grand Prix was almost taken away from him.
In fact, had he been a regular F1 driver, he almost certainly would have been penalised and lost his two points. The Dutchman, who drove Sebastian Vettel’s Aston Martin in free practice one on Friday, only found out he would be racing this weekend on Saturday morning when Williams’ lead driver Alex Albon was ruled out with appendicitis.
De Vries went on to reach Q2 and qualify 13th, which became eighth once all the various grid penalties had been applied. He then drove an excellent race, which ended behind the safety after Daniel Ricciardo’s McLaren broke down in an awkward position on track five laps from the end.
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Following that safety car period, De Vries was reprimanded by the stewards for a potential case of erratic driving. The 27-year-old had been warming up his brakes coming out the first chicane, causing Alfa Romeo’s Guanyu Zhou to almost run into the back of him.
However, the stewards showed leniency by taking into account the fact he had been called up to race at such short notice and opted not to apply a penalty.
The stewards’ explanation read: “Any kind of penalty would have relegated out of the points, but the stewards showed lenience by taking into account that it was De Vries’s first Grand Prix and decided against punishing him.
“The driver advised that after the second lap under the safety car he was unsure about why his display was showing that he was at risk of being under the delta time,” the stewards’ explanation read.
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“At the same time, he was dealing with brake issues and was in radio contact with the team over this issue, so did not get any advice from the team in relation to his delta.
“He therefore reduced speed in order to remain above the delta time. The stewards took note of the fact that the driver was a ‘last minute’ replacement for the usual team driver and had driven this car for the first time in FP3 at this event.
“Therefore, in mitigation, the stewards decide to impose the penalty of a reprimand instead of a higher penalty.”
Albon, who will undergo surgery, is expected to be fit for the next race in early October.
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