Discussing that difficult first round, the 24-year-old has since revealed that he expected it. He knew he wouldn’t be quick enough in Bahrain to challenge for the win or a podium. It was for that reason that he never panicked. That tough first round was all part of the plan, he’d prepared for it – it was supposed to start like that.
“We always knew that Bahrain was always going to be a very difficult race for me personally because of the nature of the track, but perhaps also our package.
“We get so little testing that it was quite unrepresentative because of weather conditions. It was extremely cold and you face different problems than you do during the season.”
The Dutchman started 2018 in a similar fashion, finishing sixth and fifth in Round 1. But what followed, was much, much different. A season in which he was widely expected to challenge at the top, was derailed in the three rounds that succeeded Bahrain in 2018.
De Vries blames those three rounds as to the reason why his title challenge didn’t pick up the momentum it perhaps should have done. The numbers were pretty damming too: three retirements from three rounds. Sandwiched between those crushing blows were to second-place finishes, teasing at his flickering potential, but the “mistakes” he made ultimately left him with too much ground to make up, despite the months still remaining.
He admits as much too, saying: “I really blame myself for missing out on the real battle because I simply made too many mistakes at the start of the season in positions or situations where we were able to score big points. Then you’re on the back foot from the beginning.”