De Vries ready to fight for Formula E titles again after “hurt” of losing F1 drive


Posted on

| Written by

Nyck de Vries’ exit from Formula 1 was watched by those around him with anguish. His childhood dream, which he spent his career working towards, ended far more quickly than he must have expected after starting what was supposed to be his first full season.

Red Bull made the tough decision to replace him after less than half a season, placing Daniel Ricciardo at AlphaTauri before the Hungarian Grand Prix. On paper it made sense: Despite his team mate Yuki Tsunoda having just two points on the board at the time, De Vries was yet to get off the mark and had made some costly errors on-track.

The axe fell after three tough races finishing near the back in Canada, Austria and Great Britain. Losing his seat before the halfway mark in the championship, shortly before his home race, seemed particularly tough even for the cutthroat world of Formula 1. Lewis Hamilton, Charles Leclerc, Yuki Tsunoda and Alex Albon all spoke out about how harsh and hasty they thought the decision was.

De Vries arrived in the F1 paddock with enviable credentials. His 2019 Formula 2 title did not secure him an immediate promotion to F1, but he found a home with Mercedes, winning the 2021 Formula E world championship with them. Despite a promising one-off F1 debut with Williams last year, the results didn’t follow this season in the brief window he had to demonstrate his abilities.

Nyck de Vries of Scuderia AlphaTauri and The Netherlands during the F1 Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone Circuit
De Vries lost his F1 drive after the British Grand Prix
After he was dropped the De Vries camp fell relatively silent, bar a heartfelt message on social media expressing his sorrow at losing the seat. He resurfaced at the London EPrix in July. Now De Vries, still only 28, is heading back to his old stomping ground.

This week De Vries’ new career path became clear. He is returning to Formula E, joining Mahindra on a multi-year contract.

The manufacturer team finished 10th in the teams’ championship last year, beating only their customer squad Abt Cupra. Lucas di Grassi, a Formula E veteran and champion like De Vries, left the team after finishing 15th in the standings.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

But De Vries sees opportunities. Eager to put his brief association with Red Bull behind him, he is determined to bounce back stronger.

“I always like to look at the positives,” he told RaceFans in an exclusive interview. “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.

“This is a new chapter and one I’m really excited about. Nothing is an end goal or final destination, nothing is ever finished.”

But there is no denying that the speed with which Red Bull dispensed with De Vries’ services has left its mark.

“I think having that real-life realisation that – obviously as a kid you always dream about Formula 1, of course, it hurt that it ended prematurely – but just having that kind of perspective of it’s one long journey. Each station is a chapter on that journey

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

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

De Vries will be well aware that despite Mahindra’s poor form over the 2022-23 season, the team has a strong pedigree in Formula E, where they have competed since the inaugural championship. They finished third two years later as Felix Rosenqvist fought for the title.

Oliver Rowland, Mahindra, Formula E testing, Valencia, 2022
Mahindra has found the transition to ‘Gen3’ a challenge
They subsequently struggled, dipping to their worst points finish last year, the first season under FE’s ‘Gen3’ regulations. But De Vries is encouraged by the vision outlined by Mahindra team principal and CEO Frederic Bertrand.

“When Fred and I met, he shared his plan,” said De Vries. “We were told where the team is and where it’s planning to go and what it has in place.

“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 because it’s a good push. I also realised that, actually, the fundamentals that the team has are already solid.”

De Vries is particularly encouraged by what he’s seen of the team’s preparations for revisions to the Formula E rules after next season.

“I think with the changes that will be made over time with, the new recruitment that will be done with the work that will be done in parallel for ‘Gen 3.5’ and that perspective, I think we have a kind of unique project and hands to create something unique together.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

Having spent last winter preparing for his Formula 1 debut, De Vries he now has to switch back into the Formula E mindset. He won’t have to wait long – pre-season testing in Valencia is less than a month away.

De Vries is seeking to regain the Formula E title he won in 2021
He is not concerned in the least by the prospect of adjusting to the change in cars since he last raced in the series. “I think that’s probably one of the kind of abilities that is kind of expected from a driver, because not only cars and circumstances can change, but also when you’re racing, every time you’re out on track, the circumstances are different,” he says.

“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 is relishing the return to an environment he knows well. He describes the familial environment of the Formula E paddock as the first thing he’s missed about racing in the series.

“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 and a lot of the people from the organisation, but even more so other teams and drivers.

“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 and where you enjoy highs and lows but ultimately had a really good time and enjoyed racing.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

He is clearly unwilling to allow himself to be chalked up as another example of how brutally tough motorsport can be. Mere weeks after the bitter experience of seeing the F1 seat he had waited so long for slip from his grasp, he is moving on to the next challenge.

The goalposts have changed, but the goal remains the same. He wants to win another Formula E world championship. “It’s never enough when you have one,” he says. “When you have one, you want two. When you have two you want three and when you have three you want four…” he smiles.

“Nothing is an end goal and it’s always a continuous process,” he adds. “Of course, I want to win another world championship. But I’m a really realistic person and I know where we are today. Having those aspirations in [2024] might not be realistic, but over time I hope that we can build towards a scenario and situation that we can fight for it again.”


Browse all Interviews

Author information

Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

5 comments on “De Vries ready to fight for Formula E titles again after “hurt” of losing F1 drive”

  1. RBR has destroyed another career…

    1. Overreaction, much?

    2. Lawson has pretty much proved that Red Bull were right to ditch De Vries. You could excuse Sargeant’s and De Vries’ (and previous rookies like Mick Schumacher) poor performances when it was just Piastri proving them wrong, after all he was the “anomaly,” but after Lawson stepped in and showed us that apparently it’s not the car that’s making some of these rookies look bad, but rather their own performance. There’s really not much of an argument left.

      De Vries had some really poor to abysmal performances, and those are on him and him alone.

      1. Overall I agree with what you are saying and Liam looks like the real deal (and yet is left on the side by RB) – but to be fair, it’s clear that the Alpha Tauri was a very poor car at the beginning of the year and it has been quite drastically improved.

        In that sense, Nick was unlucky, it made his life difficult… He really struggled and lost ground.

        At the end of the day, De Vries did not do a good enough job. But he was given very limited time and it would be unfair to forget all his achievements from the past and tag him a poor driver.

        1. In that respect, it makes Tsunodas achievements that much more remarkable

Comments are closed.