AlphaTauri Formula 1 driver Nyck de Vries is facing a lawsuit from a Dutch real estate magnate over a €250,000 loan used to support him in his junior racing career.
2019 Formula 2 champion De Vries will make his full-time F1 debut this season, partnering Yuki Tsunoda at AlphaTauri.
His permanent F1 seat came after a successful one-off appearance for Williams at the 2022 Italian Grand Prix in place of an appendicitis-stricken Alex Albon.
His efforts in securing a ninth-place finish at Monza were key to him securing the seat that became available once Pierre Gasly decided to leave for Alpine.
However, on the eve of his first pre-season testing programme in F1, de Vries is facing a lawsuit from Jeroen Schothorst whose Investrand company paid him the €250k loan back in 2018 - enough to secure a Prema Formula 2 seat.
At this stage in proceedings, the court case in Amsterdam is not about the loan, but whether Schothorst has grounds to recoup the full €250,000 sum through contracts and documents from de Vries.
De Vries in court over loan
Terms of the agreement included payment of 3% interest a year and a slice of any future earnings de Vries would make should he reach F1, Dutch newspaper FD reported.
Crucially, the loan was to be waived completely if de Vries was not an F1 driver by 2022.
The 2020/21 Formula E champion subsequently paid €190,000 in interest to Schothorst but believed that the loan would be written off as per the agreement as he did not have an F1 race seat for the '22 F1 season.
Instead, as a rookie, de Vries was often used by teams to fulfil the requirement to have inexperienced drivers competing in FP1.
He took over for Mercedes in France, subbing for Lewis Hamilton and again in Mexico in the sister W13 of George Russell.
De Vries also drove for Williams and Aston Martin in FP1 sessions, before the call-up on Saturday morning at Monza to replace Albon, who required surgery.
Schothorst is contesting the definition of 'F1 seat' as he believes De Vries to have secured one in 2022, thus meaning the terms of the initial €250k loan would still be valid.
He also believes the driver has withheld documents and contracts about his earnings, including in the AlphaTauri deal.
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De Vries has denied the allegations about withholding information from sponsor Schothorst and is believed to be willing to repay the full €250,000, but the offer has been rejected.
In a statement, Schothorst says he wishes De Vries well and that there are "different interpretations" of the deal agreed in 2018.
"Let me first say that I think it is fantastic for Nyck that he has become successful as a Formula 1 driver and [fantastic] that there are two Dutch drivers at the start of the Dutch Grand Prix in August," he explained to De Telegraaf, alluding to the World Champion Max Verstappen as the other.
"We invested in De Vries' career at a crucial moment and when nobody else wanted to do it anymore. We now have different opinions of the interpretation of the agreement [that] we entered into with each other at the time.
"Things like that happen and, as a result, we unfortunately cannot escape taking the matter to court.
"We really would have preferred this to be different, but that does not alter the fact that as a motorsport fan, I wish Nyck all possible success in the continuation of his career."
The Amsterdam-based court is expected to rule on the case on February 3rd, with Schothorst potentially in line for 50% of de Vries' AlphaTauri earnings.