For many System 1 drivers, the ascent into the game is a straightforward one: you win in karting, you win in regional single-seaters and you then win in junior classes like System 2. It’s the way in which drivers like Charles Leclerc, Pierre Gasly, and even Lewis Hamilton discovered their footing. However, after failing to safe an F1 seat following his personal F2 championship win, AlphaTauri rookie Nyck de Vries needed to forge his personal path into the game.
After profitable the System 2 title in 2019, the younger Dutch driver switched gears and joined all-electric race collection System E for its sixth season. He partnered with Stoffel Vandoorne for 3 seasons on the Mercedes EQ System E crew.
Throughout that point, he grew to become the primary Dutch motorsport world champion after profitable the System E title in 2021, and helped the squad declare back-to-back crew championships as effectively. All of the whereas, nonetheless conserving one foot within the door at F1 via his work as check and reserve driver for the Mercedes System 1 crew.
“It was really a deliberate determination once I was not racing in System One, to take a position my time in different areas,” de Vries instructed Jalopnik throughout AlphaTauri’s crew launch in New York Metropolis.
“In the past, it was more about managing my career opportunities to steer it in a direction that would keep all the doors open and to not give up on my dream, which was Formula 1.”
After two years on the sidelines, that dream became a reality last year when de Vries was called upon by the Williams F1 team. Its driver, Alex Albon, had been struck down by appendicitis and could be unable to race on the Italian Grand Prix in Monza, so de Vries was in.
He impressed everybody by out-qualifying teammate Nicholas Latifi. He then went on to outperform the Canadian and even managed to attain factors on his debut. Onlookers took notice, and the Dutchman was quickly signed to hitch AlphaTauri for the 2023 season, the place he now companions with Japanese driver Yuki Tsunoda.
“System 1 is finally everybody’s dream and to get the chance to place all of your dedication into that’s really an actual privilege,” he instructed Jalopnik.
Now, the 28-year-old is difficult at work making ready for the brand new season, which kicks off with winter testing in Bahrain subsequent week, earlier than the primary race of the 12 months on March fifth. Within the course of, he’s uncovered simply how completely different System 1 is in contrast with different collection he’s raced in.
“It’s fully completely different,” he says.
“Firstly, integrating in a brand new atmosphere, new crew, assembly new folks, understanding the place the crew is standing and the place we are able to enhance. However from a private perspective, I wanted to place in far more effort and time into bodily preparation.”
He explains that within the championships he raced in earlier than, “bodily exercise was sufficient” to maintain you wholesome sufficient to final the race distance. However, in System 1, he’s discovered that the “stresses, the masses and the depth is so excessive.”
“I actually loved it,” he provides. “We’ve labored laborious and I’m feeling sturdy. I couldn’t get out of the automotive in Monza, however I would battle to get within the automotive now.”
All eyes shall be on the Dutchman when he traces up on the grid in Bahrain. Then, he’ll be one among three rookies coming into their first F1 season this 12 months, sitting alongside American racer Logan Sargeant at Williams and Australia’s Oscar Piastri at McLaren.