Court decision goes against De Vries in loan and F1 earnings dispute

4 min read

Nyck de Vries, former Formula 1 driver for AlphaTauri, has faced a legal setback as the Amsterdam District Court ruled against him in a case initiated by Investrand, a company that provided him with a €250,000 loan to support his racing career. According to the court’s decision, De Vries is required to repay the loan, along with additional penalties, including half of his salary and sponsorship income earned during his partial F1 season with AlphaTauri until July 2023. The Dutch driver is currently contemplating an appeal against this judgment.

In 2018, Nyck de Vries secured a loan from Jeroen Schothorst’s Investrand company to augment his budget for a Prema Formula 2 drive. The agreement specified that if De Vries became an active F1 driver by 2022, Investrand would be entitled to 50% of his income for the duration of his F1 career. If De Vries failed to reach F1 by the agreed-upon time, Investrand would write off the loan. An exception was made for De Vries’s activities as a test driver for Mercedes, which would not be included in the income-sharing arrangement.

The situation became complicated when, during the 2022 Italian Grand Prix, De Vries, serving as a reserve driver, was called in as a substitute for the ill Alex Albon at Williams. He subsequently finished ninth in the race, catching the attention of Red Bull and securing a drive with AlphaTauri for the following year. The legal dispute emerged over whether the 2022 Monza appearance constituted a race deal or was part of his testing activities, influencing whether the loan would be written off or the 50% agreement triggered.

In an initial court proceeding in 2023, the judge favored De Vries, emphasizing his role as a reserve driver during the Italian Grand Prix and noting that he was not contracted as a race driver at the time. The judge also supported De Vries in a claim that he had kept Investrand adequately informed of his contract details over the years.

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Investrand stressed that the previous proceedings were primarily about obtaining information and constituted a first step toward the main case, heard recently in the Amsterdam District Court. This time, the judge ruled in favor of Investrand, stating that De Vries could not rely on his Mercedes testing contract to override the original agreement. Consequently, De Vries is obligated to repay the €250,000 loan, along with interest, and pay half of his 2023 AlphaTauri earnings.

Jeroen Schothorst, representing Investrand, expressed satisfaction with the court’s ruling, acknowledging their support for De Vries during a crucial phase in his career. While regretting the necessity of legal proceedings, Schothorst conveyed his wishes for De Vries’s continued success in motorsport.

De Vries’s lawyer, Jeroen Bedaux, challenged the decision, highlighting that De Vries had won on certain elements, such as extra payments claimed until the end of 2022. Bedaux also indicated the possibility of an appeal, emphasizing that the court’s interpretation of the agreement was inconsistent with De Vries’s intentions.

“The court’s interpretation of the agreement is not consistent with what De Vries in any event intended at the time he concluded the agreement,” Bedaux stated. “And De Vries has also fully and conscientiously fulfilled his obligations up to and including 2022, which has also been confirmed in court. That De Vries was nevertheless ordered to repay the loan and to pay fixed and variable interest regarding the first months of 2023 is therefore at odds with what the parties have agreed, which is why De Vries is still considering an appeal.”

Bedaux also questioned the classification of the 2022 Monza reserve appearance as a race drive, describing it as “a very creative interpretation of the agreement.”

Nyck de Vries’s legal setback introduces uncertainty into his racing career, and the potential appeal will be closely monitored as the situation develops.

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