Roy Nissany is currently the only person on the planet to have driven a current-spec F1 car and an F2 car in 2021. The pre-season testing in Bahrain let the teams and drivers get to grips with the machinery. For Formula 1, that meant (minor) regulation changes. With Formula 2, the cars are the same, but the tyres are changing. And DAMS’ Roy Nissany is the only person to have had a taste of both.
To make his position even more unique, Roy contested F3 Asia in 2021, too. F3, F2, and F1 are all under his 2021 belt and it’s only April. Let’s be honest, everyone reading this now would love to have played with those toys. And sadly, for everyone reading this now, that is a few hundred thousand financial steps too far. Unless you are Roy Nissany having a little Google of yourself (hi!).
With so many racers struggling to make their way into racing it is frustrating to see. Logan Sargeant won’t be in F2 or F3 this year. Callum Illot and Sérgio Sette Câmara aren’t testing 2021 F1 cars despite far more success in F2. But Nissany has been everywhere this year. He’s driving more and more, but with what end goal? If it’s just to be in a car, his ass is filling seats that others are more deserving of.
Nissany is 26 years old. In comparison to his peers, he is past it. He was arguably past it when he joined F2 in 2018. There’s no next step for him to take on the road to F1. Williams running him for that pre-season test day in 2021 won’t serve them any sporting favours. He won’t be racing for them in the future, neither. Unless they want to tarnish their reputation further than they already have.
Despite the Dorilton Capital takeover, finance is obviously still necessary. That’s the only win Williams get from his day in the FW43B. We can only guess at the amount of money exchanged for Roy Nissany to enjoy a day pretending to be an F1 driver. That may help Williams in the short term, especially with other teams limiting expenditure with the new $145m cost cap.
However, George Russell and Nicholas Latifi entered 2021 with half a day less testing than their rival drivers. That may not sound much, but consider the Bahrain Grand Prix is 57 laps. Kimi Raikkonen in the Alfa Romeo, the team Williams are chasing this year, completed 229 laps – four race distances. Russell and Latifi mustered 158 and 132, respectively. That sacrifice isn’t for a sensational Williams junior driver. One that the team’s future may hang on like Lewis Hamilton’s McLaren test in 2006. It’s for money. Where’s the long-term thinking?
Roy Nissany’s F3 Asia adventure I feel less aggrieved over. The championship was a thin veil of superlicence point farming for many. The level of talent varied wildly, but there weren’t hundreds of drivers clamouring for a spot. If they had a fat enough wallet, they could’ve found a seat. The championship doesn’t have the same prestige as its European F3 counterpart and isn’t a conventional rung of the ladder to F1.
Ironically, F3 Asia may be the perfect championship for Nissany to compete. He’s not impeding any F1 driver’s time in the car. He’s not preventing any junior driver’s chance of shining in F2. Instead, his money is keeping race teams afloat a little longer. The telling thing about Roy Nissany’s F3 Asia campaign is how many drivers with less experience scored better than he did.
Nissany enjoyed two podium celebrations in Round 1 when most of his rivals were getting used to the car. But after those first three races, he never lifted any silverware for the remainder of the championship. Meanwhile, rookie drivers to F3 machinery such as Dino Beganovic, Isack Hadjar, and Patrick Pasma all graced the podium more times than the much more experienced Israeli. The former two doing so in partial campaigns!
Here at GP Grandstand, you’ll notice we are just as frustrated as you over wasted talent. The exploits of Roy Nissany so far in 2021 are the epitome of the problem in motorsports. And the season hasn’t even begun. Callum Ilott will sit in the Ferrari simulator all season, while DAMS run what is essentially a single-driver team in F2. Nissany has enough skill to pilot the car to some points. But at 26 with so many car-driving years under his belt, what is the purpose of those points? There is none. For the good of single-seater racing, it’s time Roy Nissany played with tin-top toys and let more deserving drivers have their time to shine.