De Vries targets Formula E title after premature F1 exit

Nyck de Vries (NLD) AlphaTauri. 02.07.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 10, Austrian Grand Prix, Spielberg, Austria, Race Day. -, EMail: © Copyright: Bearne / XPB Images
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Nyck de Vries is wasting no time after his sudden exit from AlphaTauri, using the rest of the year to study at Harvard Business School before returning to Formula E where he won the world title in 2021.

The 2019 Formula 2 champion was handed his long-hoped for F1 opportunity after excelling in last year's Italian Grand Prix as a last minute stand-in for Williams Alex Albon, who was sidelined with appendicitis in Monza.

But just ten races into the current season, a string of poor performances in Canada, Austria and Great Britain meant that the bosses at AlphaTauri decided to bring the curtain down on his nascent F1 career.

He was replaced by veteran driver Daniel Ricciardo, but the Aussie injured his hand in an accident during practice for the Dutch GP at Zandvoort and is currently on the sidelines with Liam Lawson sitting in.

De Vries stayed below the radar following the team's decision to eject him, but has now confirmed he will be returning to the all-electric Formula E series on a multi-year contract with Mahindra Racing.

In an exclusive interview this week with RaceFans, the 28-year-old Dutch driver was projecting a determinedly positive demeanour about this year's events.

"Obviously as a kid you always dream about Formula 1, of course, and it hurt that it ended prematurely," he acknowledged. “But this is a new chapter and one I’m really excited about.

"Nothing is an end goal or final destination, nothing is ever finished," he said. “I always like to look at the positives.

“I’m really excited about this new chapter that is about to start. I’m looking forward to going out to Valencia and really start driving the car and hopefully build something unique together.

Nyck de Vries (NLD) AlphaTauri AT04.
08.07.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 11, British Grand Prix, Silverstone, England, Qualifying Day.
-, EMail: © Copyright: Staley / XPB Images

“When you go through certain experiences it just helps you to understand it even better. Everyone in life goes through different phases and chapters, and so do I. "Just having that kind of perspective of it’s one long journey, each station is a chapter on that journey."

It won't be as simple for de Vries as simply jumping into the cockpit and picking up where he left off, with Formula E technical rules having moved on since he was last competing in the series.

“It’s always a moving target and you’re always adapting and anticipating, but I think just your global mindset towards changes and challenges – to embrace them.”

De Vries said he felt Mahindra was well positioned to make the most of the new rules, and had been convinced by the vision of team CEO Frederic Bertrand.

Nyck de Vries (NLD) AlphaTauri.
07.07.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 11, British Grand Prix, Silverstone, England, Practice Day.
-, EMail: © Copyright: Coates / XPB Images

“When Fred and I met, he shared his plan,” de Vries said. “He basically showed me a roadmap of a plan to move up the grid and that really encouraged me. I really felt like that is something I want to be part of and I believe in."

"I also realised that, actually, the fundamentals that the team has are already solid," he said. "I think we have a kind of unique project and hands to create something unique together."

It also sounded as though de Vries would be happy to return to the more friendly and welcoming Formula E paddock rather than the unforgiving F1 environment.

“I spent three years in the Formula E paddock and all the time you build up relationships,” he says. “There are a lot of familiar faces in the Formula E paddock.

“It’s kind of a big family to travel around the world and it’s just nice to come back to a family that you know, where you enjoy highs and lows but ultimately had a really good time and enjoyed racing.”

And while insisting he was realistic about his chances of winning in 2024, de Vries made no secret of his aspirations.

“Nothing is an end goal and it’s always a continuous process,” he said. “Of course I want to win another world championship, but I’m a really realistic person and I know where we are today.

“It’s never enough when you have one [title],” he said. “When you have one, you want two. When you have two, you want three. And when you have three you want four!"

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