Former Formula 1 driver Nyck de Vries has been directed by the Amsterdam District Court to repay a €250,000 loan and relinquish half of his earnings from the 2023 racing season.
De Vries had a brief stint in F1, which was cut short when he was released by AlphaTauri, now known as Visa Cash App RB, making way for Daniel Ricciardo and later Liam Lawson.
The legal dispute stemmed from an agreement in 2018 when De Vries sought additional funding for his PREMA Formula 2 campaign. He approached Jeroen Schothorst’s Investrand company, which provided the required capital under the condition that they would receive 50% of De Vries’ Formula One income if he secured a spot on the F1 grid by 2022.
Alternatively, if he didn’t meet this goal within the specified timeframe, the entire loan would be forgiven.
Despite already being under contract as a Mercedes test driver from 2020 to 2022, both parties agreed that this arrangement did not violate the established terms.
The dispute escalated following De Vries’ F1 debut for Williams at the 2022 Italian Grand Prix, where he finished in ninth place after stepping in for the unwell Alex Albon. This performance caught the attention of Red Bull, leading to his signing with AlphaTauri for the 2023 season.
The crucial question revolved around whether his Monza debut triggered the Investrand agreement, determining whether the loan would be written off or the 50% clause would be activated.
Legal proceedings commenced in early 2023, with initial support for De Vries from the judge. This support encompassed not only the Monza claim but also an allegation made by Investrand regarding De Vries intentionally withholding information about his contractual dealings.
De Vries presented a 26-page WhatsApp transcript as evidence, showing consistent communication with Schothorst and fulfillment of obligations towards Investrand.
The judge did not request additional copies of De Vries’ contracts, signed prior to the loan agreement with Schothorst, and found no evidence supporting Investrand’s claim of information withholding.
However, the tide turned as Investrand shed more light on its role in obtaining information during a later hearing. The judge sided with Investrand, instructing De Vries to repay the full loan amount with interest.
This ruling represents a significant setback for the former F1 driver in his ongoing financial and contractual struggle.
De Vries is expected to file an appeal following the recent verdict, as confirmed by his lawyer, Jeroen Bedaux. Bedaux expressed dissatisfaction with the court’s interpretation of the ruling, deeming the inclusion of De Vries’ appearance in Monza as “a very creative interpretation of the agreement.”
In response to the court’s decision, Jeroen Schothorst of Investrand expressed regret that legal action became necessary but stated that they had attempted to reach an agreement through proper consultation, which was rejected by De Vries and his lawyer.
Schothorst wished De Vries success in his motorsport career, despite the setbacks in F1.