Eddie Howe confirms Newcastle United will stage warm weather training camp in Saudi Arabia

Formula E reigning champion Nyck De Vries looking for repeat of Diriyah E-Prix season-opening victory

RIYADH: Dutch driver Nyck De Vries insists he is not fazed by the pressure of being the defending champion and is looking forward to his “favorite” race of the calendar in Saudi Arabia when the new season begins later this month.

The 26-year-old will line up for Mercedes in the eighth edition of the all-electric  championship, which will begin with the Diriyah E-Prix double-header in Riyadh on Jan. 28-29. The upcoming season will feature 16 rounds across 10 countries including the UK, Germany, the US and Italy.

De Vries — who won Season 7’s opening race at Diriyah last February — will be among 22 drivers who will be in action in the season-opener and while he is hoping to impress, he is fully aware of the strong competition he faces to replicate his title victory.

“There is always pressure and I’m always nervous and a little stressed on race days and sometimes have that different feeling because I do care and want to do well,” said De Vries. “Being the reigning champion doesn’t really change things as that was last year. Now, all of us begin equally and we have to prove ourselves again. So for me, I’m looking forward to the new season and performing better than I did in the past.”

De Vries has happy memories of racing in Saudi Arabia. In last year’s championship, he won the race, setting the platform to secure his first world ABB FIA Formula E World Championship, and admits competing under the lights will make the event even more special.

“Diriyah was good to me last year and it is my favorite event of the calendar because I do enjoy the layout,” he said. “It’s the fastest track on the calendar and doesn’t have any low-speed corners. It’s a great track and with it being a night race, it gives it an extra bit of touch and the organizers have made great use of the lighting to make it a cool race.

“There is not a huge difference compared to racing during the day, but during the night the emotions are all a bit greater. Everything looks a bit faster and intimidating and I think there’s a lot more emotion so I personally like the idea of a night race.”

The driver also outlined his ambition to continue racing in the championship, and the importance of participating regularly to become the best driver he can be.

He said: “I believe that it’s important to stay active and continue practicing your racing skills in different disciplines. When you are racing, there is always the different pressure to testing — so I am someone who would prefer to race than test as I believe testing is effective in certain stages of your career and will give you experience. However, it doesn’t put you in the situation where you get those unique, different feelings from racing. Hence, I want to be racing as much as possible and hope to continue racing in the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship and endurance racing.”

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