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De Vries cleared of wrongdoing in dispute over €250K loan

Nyck de Vries has been cleared of any wrongdoing in an Amsterdam court over a claim launched against him by real estate magnate Jeroen Schothorst relating to a €250,000 loan.

Nyck de Vries, Scuderia AlphaTauri

The matter relates to a loan that the current AlphaTauri Formula 1 driver took in 2018 from Schothorst’s investment fund Investrand to help fund an F2 campaign with Prema Racing.

The Dutchman had needed to raise half a million Euros for that season and with help from sponsors like Jumbo, he managed to get half of that amount. For the other half, he borrowed from Investrand.

Schothorst charged a fixed interest rate of three per cent per annum for this. It was also agreed that Schothorst would receive 50 per cent from all of de Vries’ F1 activities, which was described in the agreement as variable interest, and that the loan would be waved if he had not secured an F1 race seat by 2022.

Because de Vries did not have a contract as a Formula 1 racing driver in 2022, he was under the impression at the end of last year that the loan had been waived - and with that the agreement effectively terminated.

Schothorst, however, was of the opinion that de Vries had been active in Formula 1 last year as he raced for the Williams team.

In the summary judgement, the judge sided with de Vries on this point stating that he never had a formal race contract.

"It is true that he participated in F1 on 11 September 2022 at the Italian Grand Prix, but he did so as a reserve driver,” said the judge. “He was not contracted as a race driver at that time. He was merely filling in for another driver with appendicitis.”

Nyck de Vries made his F1 debut with Williams at the Italian GP

Nyck de Vries made his F1 debut with Williams at the Italian GP

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Schothorst also argued that de Vries breached the agreement by failing to keep him properly informed of all relevant developments concerning his career, including copies of his contracts, which was information Schothorst needed to determine if de Vries was paying the right amount of money as far as the variable interest went.

The judge did not go along with this either, as it was established that Schothorst had agreed to a payment of €114,361 being paid over the period up to and including 2021.

He had also not protested against a payment in two parts of €75,000 for the year 2022, when de Vries’ income was €150,000, while he was a Mercedes F1 test and reserve driver.

De Vries also stated there had been regular contact between both parties from 2017 until, and including, 2022 via phone calls and WhatsApp, and supported his claim by filing a 26-page long WhatsApp conversation.

The ruling further referred to a 2018 agreement with McLaren, which de Vries had not shared with Schothorst, but as this was a sponsorship contract not related to driver activities, Investrand was not entitled to half of the €56,000.

This also meant there was no obligation for de Vries to send a copy of this agreement to Schothorst.

Schothorst also wanted to see the contract with AlphaTauri, but, as de Vries believes their arrangement is no longer valid, he did not believe that was required.

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In a statement issued to Autosport, he said: "I have fulfilled all my obligations towards Investrand under the loan agreement and have always provided him with all the information he was entitled to under the loan agreement.

“Therefore, as far as I am concerned, the fact that the judge ruled in my favour was in line with my expectations. Hopefully things will now die down so that I can focus on preparing for the Formula 1 season."

His lawyer, Jeroen Bedaux, added: “Nyck has taken note of the positive verdict rejecting all of Investrand's claims. Nyck is obviously not surprised, but pleased that the judge also (fully) endorses Nyck's view."

De Vries will be in action with the AlphaTauri AT03 at Paul Ricard on Saturday to test rain tyres for Pirelli.

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