When Mercedes-EQ's Nyck de Vries headed into the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship final last season, it was far from certain that the championship title would be his. Now ahead of his greatest challenge yet, the Dutchman embarks on a campaign to defend his crown as a new season of Formula E prepares to go green in Diriyah on January 28, 2022. We check in with the Mercedes driver on his chances ahead of the Season 8 opener.
“My attention has fully turned to this coming season," admits de Vries. "The title win is in the past and all that matters now is what’s to come. I’m really looking forward to it."
More than five months have passed since de Vries lifted the World Championship trophy on the podium in Berlin back in August 2021. In what was one of the most sharply contested seasons of Formula E to-date, there was no guarantee that the title would be his at the end of the day. "Of course, we had a lot of luck on the Sunday in Berlin. But ultimately, I think we also need to be comfortable to say that we were the champions," he says, assuringly.
Until last season, all of the previous Formula E champions were seasoned operators in all-electric racing but de Vries, aged just 26, had only raced in the series since 2019.
“The most important thing I’ve learned so far is that it takes time to settle into a team and to feel like a family. You never stop learning in Formula E, you just understand things better – you get a better understanding of what’s happening in context and you learn how to use certain aspects to your advantage."
Despite lacking time in the seat, the Dutchman drove consistently throughout a rollercoaster ride of a season to end up on top. But now, after a period of hard-earned rest, recuperation and - no doubt - some relaxation, the champion finds himself back in the thick of the action, with 21 other drivers all vying for his cherished championship crown.
“There’s always pressure. I’m stressed and nervous on race days, for sure. But that’s mainly because I want to do well.
"The fact I’m now the reigning champion doesn’t change that - I don’t feel any additional pressure. That was all last season and now there’s a new set of opportunities and challenges to come, and a new world title to compete for.”
With a whole season ahead of him and the series' established protagonists - along with the newcomers - showing no sign of slowing, de Vries will need to battle it out to the bitter end and channel the same levels he demonstrated last season to retain his title.
"I'm ambitious and I'm very determined to achieve our goals [...] we are definitely very committed to defend our championships and to end this kind of journey on a high.
"I think a championship is too tight to even have a clue who would be the ones fighting it out. Last year, we went into Berlin with 18 drivers still having a chance. So if you ask me who's going to be the one this year, I just couldn't tell you."
Published on 27th January 2022
3 min read