Things didn’t improve in the Sprint Race either. Latifi was out of the points again, while De Vries was running in seventh, which would secure him enough points to seize the Championship lead. The Canadian may have been out of the points, but 10th was still high enough to claim the fastest lap – knowing this, he snatched it from the hands of Hubert on the final lap, with a superb spin around the streets of Monte Carlo. This narrowly kept him ahead in the title fight and De Vries’ turn to lead the standings would have to wait. It threatened to be a significant moment – it would become a mere anecdote.
De Vries’ tone across the weekend remained unaltered, it was just another race, during a long season. He said: “I think we’ve been very calm from the start of the season. We take it step-by-step and weekend-by-weekend, and we kind of knew that we were going to have a strong package here.”
There was another link between these two race wins, a curious one, the type which will be inexplicably linked to De Vries’ triumph by racing romantics, as to how it all started. When he climbed out of his car in the Parc fermé, helmet on, visor open, punching the air with his fist, there was something unusual about his racing suit. The ART badge sat there expectedly, but the Netherlands flag did not. The 24-year-old from the small Dutch village of Sneek instead displayed three yellow, green and black, German flags. Two on either shoulder, one on his stomach, and next to that, where the name ‘De Vries’ should be scribbled, read “Beckmann.”
In Baku earlier that season, the laundry bag containing his race suit had been mistakenly put in the bin. His ART F3 counterpart, David Beckmann, kindly offered a spare to De Vries while a new one was produced. His first two wins of the season came in the German’s garments. A complete coincidence, of course, however, you cannot help but notice the link and smile.
For De Vries though, this was never the case. These race wins were part of the plan and the race suit wrapped around him didn’t come into the equation. He proved this by winning again in Le Castellet – this time, in his own overalls. With that victory, came the Championship lead – it wouldn’t change hands again in 2019.
Through all of this, his attitude remained the same: “I would be lying if I said we did not look at it [the Drivers’ table], but it’s certainly not something which is taking our focus and priority. It’s nice but honestly, it’s not changing our feeling whatsoever.
“We’re happy with today’s result. The team did an awesome job. We did a good job together so I think we can be pleased with that, but tomorrow we have another race to do and we need to optimize our points again. That will be our approach for the rest of the season.”