George Russell believes that Nyck De Vries could well find his way back to F1 in the not too distant future, in light of his performances in Formula E.
The Dutch racer won the first round of the Valencia E-Prix on Saturday, coasting his Mercedes across the line to victory after most of the field ran out of usable energy. He leads the Formula E Championship, with two victories in five races so far.
It's the latest impressive display from De Vries, who finished in fourth in Formula 2 in 2018 behind Russell, Lando Norris and Alex Albon. While the rest moved on to F1, De Vries was left without a clear path, and was also dropped from the McLaren junior programme.
Russell knows the Dutch driver a long time, having raced him in karts a decade ago.
“We were friends then. In 2011 he was my best friend in the paddock. He raced in KF1, I in KF3 and he dominated absolutely everything,” Russell told RacingNews365.
According to the Williams driver, De Vries was so good at karting that it may have worked against him in the single seaters.
"His sheer dominance in his karting career may have hurt him a little when he got into the single seaters. Because he had never seen any setbacks before in his career," he said.
“He definitely has the speed to be a great driver in my opinion. I wouldn't be surprised if he gets into Formula 1 in the next few years. He's proven himself in Formula E, he's always there fighting for that world title and he really is a great driver",
Asked whether he misses racing against his former F2 rival, Russell was reluctant to go that far.
"I wouldn't say that like that no," Russell admitted. "We've obviously had some comings together on track in Formula 2, he's a hard racer, but always fair. Missing him is an exaggeration, but he's doing great and, like I said, I wouldn't be surprised if we see him back in Formula 1 sometime in the coming years."
The setbacks that De Vries never had in his karting career, Russell believes the Dutch driver has now had in recent years. Russell sees this setbacks as only making De Vries a stronger driver.
"Without a doubt, without a doubt," the Williams driver explained. "Everything goes well in life sometimes, but when you get to the top you always have to deal with big disappointments. If you don't know how to deal with that, it will eat you up and then it affects your performance. "
"Remember my race in Imola last year," he explained, thinking back to the 2020 race.
"When I crashed behind the safety car, but also think of the two tough years I had in my junior career, 2013 and 2015. Those moments helped me in my further development. The race for Mercedes in Bahrain last year was also a bitter pill to swallow, but I have now left it in the past."