Nyck de Vries on becoming Formula E World Champion and his hopes for 2022
2021 - the year of the Dutch world champion.
Berlin Tempelhof Airport, Germany. August 15.
Dutch driver Nyck de Vries became the first ABB FIA Formula E World Champion.
Credit: Mercedes EQ Formula E Team
Ahead of the final two rounds in the German capital, Nyck was top of the drivers’ standings, but he wasn’t the only one in the race for taking the title. With such a tight qualifying format and such close competition between every car, there was still plenty to fight for. Three other drivers were in the title race; Mitch Evans (Jaguar), Edoardo Mortara (Venturi) and Jake Dennis (BMW) were involved in incidents during the final Berlin EPrix round, taking them out of contention for the title.
In the moments after crossing the line, Nyck’s emotions from the actual race were prevailing instead of those which came alongside being the first ever Formula E World Champion. Initially, his disappointment over losing so many positions in the race to avoid contact overpowered his brand-new title.
“I was a bit disappointed that I didn’t finish higher,” Nyck tells me. “Quite quickly after jumping out of the car and seeing everyone, realising that we are the first world champions, I started to become emotional.
“The whole season included a lot of different emotions and to finally come out on top was just a massive relief.”
As the last weekend of the 2021 Formula E season began, everyone knew that someone would be crowned champion. The media were talking about it, fans were talking about it, but Nyck didn’t allow that to create more pressure.
With such an unpredictable qualifying format, Nyck recognises that the group evolution between the different groups was almost more important than the pure performance of the Mercedes.
“You just want to get on with the job and focus on what really matters,” he says. “All we could do was our best and hope it was enough.
“I think we should also take a step back and look at our whole championship; everyone has had highs and lows.”
Credit: LAT Images
Moving into the 2022 Formula E season, Nyck’s focus and determination – as well as the team’s – is still there. Nyck and Mercedes are looking to retain their respective titles; Drivers’ World Champion and Constructors’ Champion.
“In our world, you’re as good as your last race,” Nyck explains. “You always need to perform and deliver.”
Although Mercedes are leaving the all-electric championship at the end of this season, the team are determined to finish their journey – as a strong group and as a family – on a high, by retaining their drivers’ and teams’ championships.
“We should always work hard and pursue the best and work towards succeeding together,” Nyck says. “We’re all competitive and we succeeded last year, and we are in a new championship now.”
Three rounds of racing are over already – two rounds in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia, and one in the Mexican capital, Mexico City – and the first two races this year were important for Nyck.
Credit: LAT Images
With a challenging championship last year with multiple drivers in contention to take the title, having a strong start by winning the first race in Diriyah is something which really helps, especially when it comes to confidence and motivation for the Mercedes team.
“It’s a good feeling to start the season well and to live up to those expectations,” he says. “I’m coming into the season as a reigning champion and I don’t really feel anything different about it.”
Although expectations are high, Nyck is ready to focus solely on the racing; by starting this season with a win, he’s already ticking important boxes, and he’s ready to focus on scoring maximum points every weekend.
The second round of racing in Diriyah didn’t go as well as the first for Nyck; he finished 10th after starting on Pole.
“There’s always more to learn from failure, bad experiences and disappointment than successes,” Nyck explains. “It’s hard for the outside world to understand that one day can be so different to the others.
“This championship is so competitive because the cars are almost identical and the difference is all in the little details; a small mistake or decision can easily put you outside of the optimum window.”
Looking ahead to the rest of the season, Nyck and the team recognise how the first races were good for them, and they were reminded of the fact that they can’t take anything for granted.
“We need to give it our all to make sure we stay on top and stay focused,” Nyck says. “And stay determined to fight in front.”
Credit: LAT Images
Formula E goes green again in Rome on April 9-10.