de Vries IndyCar test could preview a three-car future for MSR

Carl Bingham

de Vries IndyCar test could preview a three-car future for MSR


de Vries IndyCar test could preview a three-car future for MSR


If the timing had worked out for the 2019 F2 champion, Nyck de Vries would be racing for a Mercedes, Red Bull, or another front-running Formula 1 team.

The Dutchman is regarded as one of Europe’s greatest young talents to be passed over by F1 teams, and despite his role as test and reserve driver for Mercedes, and his latest championship-winning performance in taking the 2021 Formula E title for Mercedes-EQ, there’s no question about where de Vries belongs, and that’s in a top open-wheel series.

Fortunately for the 26-year-old, NTT IndyCar Series team owner Michael Shank agrees. It’s why Shank, his wife Mary Beth, and Jim Meyer invited De Vries to test today in Sebring, and while there’s no guarantee it will lead to anything in the future, Meyer Shank Racing wants to get a feel for its options when 2023 arrives.

de Vries has one more year to go before Mercedes-EQ exits Formula E, MSR will need to get moving through the 2022 season before it decides whether to keep the full-time roster of Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves and Simon Pagenaud, and even if there are no driver changes, Shank says there’s another option to consider for someone like de Vries.

“Who said I wouldn’t run three cars?” he told RACER. “This is a pre-emptive move, just to see how we all get along, to see how he gets along here. This car, I think (Romain) Grosjean called it a ‘steering monster’ or something like that; these things are tough to drive, man. And we’ll see how that interaction goes between us and him.

“I could use him on the sports car program, potentially. He’s an awesome sports car driver, too. It’s just in general, ‘Let’s see what he can do.’ It’s of no threat to anybody that’s on this team right now driving race cars. We do want to keep our finger on the pulse of what’s happening and who is coming up the ranks.”

If all goes well with de Vries, Shank will look for another testing opportunity to sample his talents, but mobilizing a third MSR Honda IndyCar after the Formula E season is complete might be too much of an ask.

“I see another test potentially, for sure, but I don’t see I don’t see a race, just from an equipment and a scheduling standpoint,” he said. “You know, he sits right next to (Mercedes F1 boss) Toto Wolff on all the broadcasts; he’s the reserve for Lewis (Hamilton) and the other car.

“And he’s reserve (driver) for Toyota in (WEC) prototypes and he’s got a P2 ride. So he’s got a lot going on. But this this opens the book. Right now, we can take a look and see how some of these guys react to the IndyCar that come from F2. So, time will tell, but this is the direction we’re going.”