From his dad’s karting track through to Formula One and now Formula E, French driver Jean-Éric Vergne’s racing career has covered every aspect of the sport. He has taken part in 58 grands prix, and continued his upward trajectory by becoming driver’s champion in the most recent Formula E season. Here he discusses with Boss the reasons to love racing electric cars, and reveals his dream tracks.
When did you first start racing and how did it all begin?
I started when I was four or five years old at my father’s karting track. I don’t even remember the first time because I was very young.
What drew you to Formula E racing?
It was the third race of season one when I had the opportunity to do a race for Andretti (Autosport). I had just come out of Formula One and I agreed to do that race. It was in Punta del Este and after that first race I saw that the championship had huge potential. I continued the season with Andretti and that was basically the start of my Formula E career.
How do you prepare for a race?
Before a race we spend many days in a simulator that requires the 180 kilowatt laps to be completed as quickly as possible, and then there is also an eye simulation. So we spend quite a lot of time in the simulator before every race.
How does racing in a Formula E car differ from fuel-powered cars?
Besides the fact that electric racing means there’s no noise or at least not the same noise as fueled cars, it also means that you can race in city centers – that is the biggest difference. And it means that a big part of the race is energy management. Who is the best driver using least amount of energy? That is what makes it very difficult but also interesting.
What is the most important thing that Formula E brings to motorsport?
Formula E is a showcase of technologies for all the manufacturers that are involved in this championship. Winning a Formula E championship means that the manufacturer has the best electric cars. That is a huge marketing argument for all potential sellers, and I think that is something very important that Formula One doesn’t have anymore.
How has it been working with Hugo Boss?
It has been great! I remember when I was a kid, Hugo Boss and Ayron Senna met. And as their ambassador, I feel proud to be part of the Hugo Boss family and to be working together in this electric championship.
What has been your best racing moment so far?
Winning in Paris. It was fantastic to win in my home town – it felt amazing. Winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans was also a special moment.
Which is your favourite city to have raced in, and why?
I guess, since I am a Parisian, Paris was the best city we raced in – not only because I won, but because it is an amazing location. I mean we were in the centre of Paris, we couldn’t have been any more central and that was very beautiful.
How is it for you racing on a racetrack in the heart of a city?
I have to say it’s the best kind of racing because there’s a great location, the tracks are very nice to drive on, and no mistakes are allowed because of the walls. I love racing in the heart of the city.
If you could race in any city in the world, where would it be?
I think a very cool race would be in Tokyo at night.
How do you celebrate a victory?
We enjoy the podium ceremony, take a photo of the team and then whenever we win a race we always have a big champagne bottle with the team – it’s quite fun. Then your head is turned on for the next race, there’s no time to relax. In motorsports you’re only as good as your last race. You always need to keep working to be good in the next race you’re going to have.