Nyck de Vries says he’s relishing a more friendly and relaxed atmosphere in the paddock as he makes his sports car and FIA World Endurance Championship race debut at this weekend’s Six Hours of Silverstone.
The Formula 2 regular, who is part of McLaren’s young driver program, joins Racing Team Nederland for the remainder of the WEC ‘Super Season’.
He replaces Jan Lammers, who was signed alongside Giedo van der Garde and Frits van Eerd for the 24 Hours of Le Mans and season-opening Six Hours of Spa.
“I’ve been looking forward to my debut in WEC for quite a while because the deal for the drive was announced quite early in the year,” de Vries told Sportscar365.
“There’s a very nice atmosphere within the team because almost everybody is Dutch and the relationship between the drivers is good. It’s just a very nice place to be.
“I quite like the approach, and the atmosphere within the whole paddock and teams. You can feel that drivers work together.
“In other series, people would rather see each other lose than win because you’re all there for your own interests and you’re all trying to beat each other.
“Here you feel that there is a bit more of a relaxed atmosphere. The people are more helpful and nice to each other.”
Despite having significant single-seater experience, the 23-year-old has never competed in endurance or sports car series before.
His only prior taste of sports cars came as part of a Ferrari GTE shootout 18 months ago alongside Alessandro Pier Guidi, Alex Riberas and Miguel Molina, who were all later awarded factory deals with the manufacturer.
“I’ve never shared a car before and I’ve never driven a race longer than an hour, so all of that – traffic management and everything that comes along with endurance racing – is new to me,” he explained.
“I’ve only driven the car for three laps in a demo run without a seat in Zandvoort. I’m very new to everything.
“I made a seat insert on Wednesday. I’m very much looking forward to jumping in but I’m going to take it easy and take my time.”
The Dutchman is signed to drive Racing Team Nederland’s Dallara P217 Gibson for the rest of the ‘Super Season’ but says the rest of his plans for 2019 are still up in the air.
He said he has “no idea” if he will be back in F2, where he is currently fifth in the standings, and says he isn’t looking at long-term options yet.
“[WEC] is a very cool championship,” he said. “It’s the only real world championship alongside Formula 1, [and] WRC.
“It’s a very good place to be, but I’m not very much looking into the long term, as in choosing a career path or something.
“It came along and it works well. Alonso was doing both!”