Mercedes EQ Formula E driver Nyck de Vries admits the enforced five-month shutdown gave him the chance to ‘take a step back’ which meant he felt more comfortable in Formula E when the season resumed in Berlin.
De Vries made his Formula E debut at last November’s season-opener in Diriyah, a week before the final race of his title-winning Formula 2 campaign, but the Dutchman experienced a mixed start to life in the series alongside his more experienced team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne.
Despite flashes of promise, de Vries picked up penalties, and lost points as a result, in three of the first five races, and was taken out in a fourth, meaning he scored fewer than half of Vandoorne’s points during the same period.
However, his form improved noticeably when the championship resumed in August, an upturn de Vries credits to him having better adapted to his new surroundings.
“I did feel a little bit more at home in my environment when we came back in Berlin,” said de Vries. “For some reason, to have had the chance almost to take a step back [when the season was suspended] it helped in the way that I felt a bit more comfortable in Formula E and the team environment.
“I think that is a kind of adaptation process that just requires a little bit of time. You can’t really force someone to feel at home and you can’t force relationships, it’s just a matter of time.”
De Vries also feels that having to start work in his new role with Mercedes while simultaneously still competing in Formula 2 may also have impacted his preparation.
“Last year, everything happened so quickly and I felt everything was a little bit rushed in a way,” said de Vries, “We obviously got there in the end in Saudi [at the opening race in Diriyah], but I was still doing my F2 season [at the beginning[ and trying to get ready for Formula E as well so it was all a bit mixed being done at the same time.
“I think the downtime [mid season] did help me feel a bit more comfortable. I don’t necessarily think it made me quicker or something, just maybe a bit more comfortable and more aware of the different elements this championship brings.
“The learning process and the experience starts to make a difference over time, because you have so many little different elements to it that are important to know and to experience, and in testing, you can only go through a certain amount of things but in the race it’s a whole different experience.
“Like a race simulation in testing is always quite clinical, there’s nothing really interrupting you, but on track, you’re trying to manage energy and race at the same time.
“Do you go for a defensive approach, or a conservative approach and play the long game? That kind of compromise is always very important when you’re racing your competitors and knowing what they are tending to do, so that experience helps a lot.”
Mercedes confirmed that de Vries will partner Vandoorne for a second consecutive season in 2021 following the launch of their Season 7 car yesterday.