Whilst the Road to Formula 1 is paved with tremendous highs, frustrating lows, and plenty of ‘what could have been’ moments along the way, Roy Nissany’s journey has transformed him far beyond the track limits.

Since making his Formula 2 debut back in 2018, the DAMS driver has gone from strength-to-strength. 2020 and 2021 saw him get behind the wheel of an F1 car as a Test Driver in six Free Practice appearances for Williams Racing, whilst also achieving a maiden F2 podium in Monte Carlo last year.

This time around, he’s already on course for his highest-ever points haul in the Championship before the season’s even hit the halfway mark - scoring points in four of the first five rounds.

Resilient to his core and with an upbeat mentality, Nissany continues to bounce back with a determination to go the distance.

“It’s great progress but it's not enough,” Nissany begins. “We’ve learned and discovered a lot. Now, most of the information is well-known by everybody, then it’s down to the very little things. It’s very important to get every little point that we can in every round because it will be very tight by the end of the year.”

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The desire to maximise every opportunity possible in such a competitive field pushes all the drivers to race on the limit. Unfortunately for Nissany, he learned the hard way that the line between risk and reward is an extremely fine margin. A mistake at the final corner during the Imola Feature Race proved to be costly, sending him into the wall and out of contention for a shot at his first F2 victory.

“In Imola, the potential we showed was for so much more.” he admitted. "My mistake there gave a bit of a hit to the great uptrend that we had. It's in the past and now we're recovering.

A blistering start during the Imola Feature Race saw Nissany climb from sixth to first into Turn 1
A blistering start during the Imola Feature Race saw Nissany climb from sixth to first into Turn 1

“In terms of potential, we showed that we are in a Feature Race-winning position, with the car and our capabilities. It gave a good confidence boost, but it’s very hard. Looking back, it's painful. But when I try to analyse it technically, we’re talking about 10 centimetres at almost 200 kilometres per hour.

“It's not an excuse because that’s exactly my job and I was over the limit. As much as it's hard to take, I can look at it in so many different ways. I can see how the Safety Car and being P10 on track - virtually leading and needing to save my tyres - while the guy in front who has worse tyres is blocking me and P2 is trying to reach me. It was a lot to process around everything. There was a little miscalculation that had an incredibly bad result. What I do at the end is to learn from the mistake and find a positive.”

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There’s a frankness to Nissany’s personality that underscores his maturity, unafraid to admit his mistakes but refusing to be weighed down by them. It’s this wisdom and understanding that could help give the Williams Academy driver the edge in the upcoming rounds. A change in the Technical Regulations this season prevent refuelling during Qualifying, which means it’s crucial for him to be able to put all the pieces together to maximise the limited window of opportunity he now finds himself facing.

“In the end it’s a little thing because this year with the new regulations regarding refuelling, we might only have one chance,” the 27-year-old says. “We have two shots and even if only one of them is representative, the second usually is more so. The first one will form a very important part of our preparation, as an understanding of what the tyres are capable of at that specific moment in these specific conditions.

“If for some reason there was a yellow flag, red flag, or traffic and that first lap is gone, the second one will be very much compromised. This is what happened to me in Barcelona, I was forced to abort my first push lap and then once I did that, there was no way back. My lap had to be the best of the best. We had to connect everything together and we couldn’t. The reality was that it was damage limitation and then it looked like it on the result.”

He added: “In a place like Baku where the gaps are big, it’s more forgiving because I can take chunks of time out just by risking it more or using my experience from previous years.”

Nissany scored first F2 podium with a third-place finish in the opening Sprint Race in Monte Carlo in last season Image 2021
Nissany scored first F2 podium with a third-place finish in the opening Sprint Race in Monte Carlo in last season (Image: 2021)

The Israeli driver is relishing the chance to overcome these new challenges – with the battle between speed and tactics at the forefront. The task ahead is reminiscent of a chess match, it’s all about being strategic.

“It's very hard. It's something on your shoulders, but the best thing to do is to disregard it, but it’s not easy. I just acknowledge the fact that it’s another limiting factor, but I'm like ‘let's cope with it and just drive’. If it works it works, if it doesn’t then it wouldn’t have anyways. It’s part of the game, I enjoy it!

The game is not just to be the quickest - it’s to be the quickest, quickest!

"You don't have time to be quick, you have to do it now. You don't have time to check what you’ve got around the track and test those limits, you have to be on the limit from the moment you get out of the pit lane. You’re going to have red and yellow flags, traffic, and other excuses and you can’t let those put you down so. Being quick is very important, but it's meaningless unless it's done quickly and early in the session.

“What would have happened if we tested around Monaco for three days in a row, morning till evening like we did in Barcelona? We would have probably removed another one-and-a-half seconds from the pole position time - it's the human factor limiting us.”

This is Nissanys second season with French team DAMS
This is Nissany's second season with French team DAMS

Yet for all the many lessons he’s learned on track, it’s perhaps those away from the chequered flag that have shaped the man Nissany’s become. Unlike several of his rivals, his arrival into the Championship with Campos Racing from World Series Formula V8 3.5 marked a move into unfamiliar territory, whilst an unexpected training injury forced him to sit on the side-lines during the 2019 campaign.

Encouraged by the motto the “sky is not the limit, the mind is”, finding his feet and a sense of belonging might not have happened overnight. Nevertheless, the life-changing journey has given him a new awareness, alongside an optimistic outlook for the future, wherever the road leads him.

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“Racing in F2 changed me a lot and improved me as a person. It can be a very stressful environment, especially for me. I didn’t grow up in Europe or in the same motorsport career path that most of the European and maybe even American drivers had, with a better motorsport culture in their country.

“I have to adapt myself and sometimes they say the way you grew up is kind of your personality,” he acknowledges. “Here, I feel like I have to make the right adjustments from how my childhood, even in motorsports, built me - how I should behave and how I should take on this challenge of racing in F2 and make the step into F1.

Nissany currently sits 16th in the Drivers Championship on 14 points only two away from his 2021 points haul
Nissany currently sits 16th in the Drivers' Championship on 14 points, only two away from his 2021 points haul

“Back in 2018, my first year in the Championship was very, very, very hard. It was stressful and I came from a smaller Championship. The year after, I was injured, and I didn't race so it gave me some perspective about life and what racing is. At the end it’s a career, but life has a bit more to it than racing.

“Luckily in 2020. I returned, and I got myself a role in F1 (as a Williams Racing Test Driver) which allowed me to have some FP1 appearances. Again, it put into perspective that F1 is even more stressful. It’s a big and important environment, so when I realised it’s just relative because if you’re going into F1, F2 suddenly seems a bit less. So maybe F1 is not as stressful as it seems and maybe it is controllable.

“Now two years later, I think I've been through some sort of a journey psychologically that allowed me to look at things the way they are in a very chilled way.”