I need to do better: an interview with Nyck de Vries

Nyck de Vries made an astonishing debut in Formula 1 last year at the Italian GP after Alex Albon was diagnosed with appendicitis and taken to hospital for surgery. De Vries scored two points, which equals Williams’ best result of the season. Alpha Tauri driver Nyck de Vries speaks exclusively to Paddock Magazine ahead of the Austrian GP in Spielberg.

You had a fantastic debut with Williams last year, finishing P9 and being voted driver of the day. Do you think this achievement resulted in unrealistic expectations?

Well, that’s an excellent question… Actually, there are always expectations in life, regardless of what you do. As we live in a competitive industry, we always need to perform. Perhaps, that race set the expectations even higher. However, I have no regrets because I wouldn’t be here today without that race in Italy. That’s how things go; normally, the expectations are very high in this category.

Obviously, there are some rumours concerning your future in the team. How could you evaluate your performance so far this year?

I’m unsatisfied with what I’ve shown on the track. I need to do better, for sure. There were moments when I put on a great performance. For example, the race weekend in Barcelona was good if you look at it as a whole. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to score points. It was a shame that I spun twice and lost two sets of tyres in Q1. However, I still managed to get to Q2 after finishing the first part of qualifying in eighth position. It was a weekend where I should’ve scored points. I also missed some opportunities at other race weekends. That’s how it is; that’s life. You win, you lose, and you have good and bad weekends. I try to do better, and that’s it. I need to do my best all the time.

I need to do better.

Nyck de Vries

You race alongside Yuki Tsunoda, who has more experience in F1. What is the teamwork like with him?

We have great mutual respect for each other. We’ve known each other for a few years. On the other hand, good relationships don’t happen overnight. We’re different characters, and I’m in a different stage in my life and career. We greatly respect each other; he’s a good guy and a very talented driver. He performs very consistently, and he’s swift. He’s shown a pretty strong performance this year.

You arrived at Formula 1 as a world champion in Formula E. For which sporting result are you the proudest?

Formula 2 gave me the most satisfaction so far. Everyone has his journey, and the path you go through can vary. I haven’t regretted anything that I’ve done so far. Of course, you have bad days sometimes. Ultimately, these moments make you stronger, and it’s part of life. In general, I’m proud of my journey.

How much did you learn during your time with Mercedes?

I know it might sound a cliché, but you learn every day. Every era in your life has its lessons. Everything I’ve done and experienced so far made me the person I’m today, including the 3-4 years at Mercedes and the time at McLaren. Winning, losing – everything contributes to becoming a better person, athlete, and racing driver. I’m still learning every day.

You don’t build relationships overnight.

Nyck de Vries

Do you enjoy the work with your new performance coach, Pyry Salmela? How important part does he have in your daily life?

I spend a lot of time with Pyry, especially during the season, because that’s when you have time to build your fitness foundation. We’re together every race weekend, travelling together to the circuit and spending time between the sessions. We’re always together, so building a good relationship is important. As I said before, you take time to build relationships. Learning from each other and earning respect and trust takes time; it’s a constantly growing process. I value his vision and approach. We’re working hard, and I feel strong after each workout. I enjoy our work together, and he’s a very recognized coach in the paddock.

How much training do you need to do during the season? Is it mainly cardio work?

As for me, I don’t have any problems with my weight, and I can allow myself to do more strengthening training to gain mass. Whereas, if you’re tall and close to the weight limit, you can do less mass building, and you need to do more cardio.

We do a lot of interval sessions as well. It’s a mixture of different training types. The training always needs to be tailored for the individual. You need to consider many elements when you set up your training plan, like how many simulator and media commitments you have, and also, you need a different training plan for a back-to-back race weekend. It’s more complex than one from the outside would imagine.

I often speak with Max on WhatsApp and spend some time together during the race weekends.

Nyck de Vries

You share the same motorhome with your fellow countryman, Max Verstappen. How often do you talk to him?

I often speak with Max on WhatsApp and spend some time together during the race weekends. He’s at the top of his game; Max dominates our sport. We’ve known each other for a long time; we respect each other it’s nice to speak and share experiences of racing with him. We get on well, and he’s an encouraging person. Support is not the right word; we get on well.

Could you elaborate on your brand, TeamNyck?

I’m not involved in the business side. It’s a project of my sister, Seychelle. She likes doing it, and it’s a good opportunity for her to gain some experience through setting up this new business. She enjoys the responsibility; we started it cautiously. We’re continuously looking for opportunities and ways to grow. I trust her, and I have confidence in her that she will succeed.

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