Formula E | Vergne: “Winning the title will be tough but not impossible”
During the Valencia pre-season testing session we spoke with French driver Jean-Eric Vergne (DS Penske) about the current situation in DS, what DS needs to do to improve, and we also asked him something about his personal life.
WHAT DS NEEDS TO WORK ON. TITLE? NOT IMPOSSIBLE
Hi JEV, last year has been full of changes for you and DS: not only the new Gen3 car and the new Hankook tyres, but also the switch from Techeetah to Penske: how much have all these changes affected you in terms of work and results? “I think the switch from Techeetah to Penske didn’t have a huge impact, the people in the team was the same, new mechanics joined the team. Engineers and structures – for example, the simulator – were the same, it didn’t impact our season that much”.
In your opinion, can the work done last year give you the basis to get back to winning ways this year? What goals do you set for yourself, both personally and as a team? “I think this year will be tough, for sure Jaguar and Porsche will have a better car than us. The car is the same as the one we raced with in Season 9, while next year we’ll have the Gen3.5 where we can change something in terms of hardware. The only thing we can work on this season are related to the software. I think it’ll be tough to compete with Porsche and Jaguar, but we’ve worked a lot since London. I think we can compete with them”.
Is the software the thing you need to improve the most or are there other thing you have to work on in order to compete with those two teams? “We need to work on the setup of the car, we need to work on braking, on accelerating. There are some things that we did, and I think we’re heading to the right direction. We’ll see in the first race. I ended fifth last season, but obviously I hope I can do better. Winning the title will be tough, but not impossible”.
You also changed teammate, as Stoffel Vandoorne took Antonio Felix da Costa’s place: how do you get on with him and what do you think he brought to the team? “I think Stoffel is a great teammate for me, he is talented, back in 2022 – before he joined us – he won the title. I think he brought some things, starting with the mentality that Mercedes had. In some things, they were more ‘serious’. I think he understood how I work, and I also understood how he works. I think we help each other quite well into getting better as drivers, and also better as drivers to push the team forward”.
VERGNE OUTSIDE THE TRACK
In the last year and a half you got married and you had a child: how much impact did these events have on you personally and professionally? “I think it helped me a lot as a human being to be more focused. When you’re not married and you don’t have kids, you have a whole kind of different things going on. Now I only have two things in my life: I have my family and I have racing. I think I can focus more on what I’m doing, focus more into racing, I can focus more into my family, forget all the rest. I think it calmed me down quite a bit, but it also helped me put more focus into what I do. You know, you always do it to make your parents proud in a way, you want to make yourself proud, but now I have a little one that I want to make proud, when he grows up I want his daddy to be a multiple champion in Formula E and I can show him the way”
I see on social media that there’s a great feeling between you drivers: you spend holidays together, you also invite some of you colleagues to your wedding. Do you think the relationship you guys developed off-track can have a positive impact on the Championship? “I don’t know, for sure it has a positive impact on me and my friends and fellow drivers, to me that is enough”.
VERGNE'S PAST EXPERIENCE IN F1
You raced for three seasons in F1: as you built your career between FE, WEC and ELMS, how much did racing in F1 helped you from a skill and a professional point of view? “I think it’s a road map, every driver has its own. Everything we do as drivers make us stronger, it doesn’t matter if it’s in success or if it’s in failure. Formula 1 has taught me a lot of things, and I think it helped me to become who I am today. Without F1 I wouldn’t be here, it’s a road map which is true for every driver, but yeah, I think it helped me”.
You race in the WEC, what do you think about the changes that are going on in the Championship with new manufacturers coming in? “I think it’s amazing to have so many manufacturers coming in Hypercar, it’s great to be there, it’s a new era and I’m very excited about it”.
Which is the race you'd love to win the most before the end of your career? "Le Mans".