It’s hard to find words to tell you how excited I am to be announced as a full-season driver with DS Virgin Racing in the FIA Formula E Championship.
The electric single-seater series has taken motorsport by storm in its first three seasons, and I’d say that it’s probably now second only to Formula 1 in terms of people aspiring to get there.
I’ve been involved in some way in Formula E over the past 12 months now. It’s a series I decided a while ago I wanted to make a beeline for, and to get myself into a full-time role was definitely my goal. I’m really excited that I’ve managed to get that opportunity.
I have initially operated as DS Virgin Racing’s reserve driver during the 2016-17 season. My role has included SIM work, on track testing plus the shakedown in Mexico City before I made my full race debut in New York in July where I managed to secure pole position.
Joining a race-winning team makes this opportunity in Formula E even better. It’s now become one of the biggest championships in motor racing and I will be racing with one of the top teams which for me is a big honour and privilege. Indeed, it was a pleasure to serve my apprenticeship last season with the people at DS Virgin Racing, the quality and professionalism within the organisation is second to none - from Alex Tai at the top to Technical Director Chris Gorne in charge of the engineering team - they’re all very high quality people.
It goes without saying how cool the Formula E calendar is. It starts in Hong Kong with a double-header on December 2/3 and I can’t wait to get to out there and fight for a great result. It’s going to be amazing to discover the cities on the schedule, most of which will be new to me.
There is one unfortunate side-effect of committing to the Formula E Championship. Following my race win in the Sebring 12 hours, I was supposed to be competing at the Petit Le Mans race at Road Atlanta in October again for Wayne Taylor Racing in their Cadillac Prototype. Unfortunately the race now clashes with the recently announced official Formula E test at Valencia, and that has to take priority for me. It was heartbreaking to call up my team-mates Ricky and Jordan Taylor to explain I unfortunately can’t make it. Whilst I personally feel I’ve let them down, in reality it's just unfortunate timing and nobody’s fault. It would have been so nice to help them secure the IMSA SportsCar Championship title which they have every chance of wrapping up at that race. The good news is they’ve managed to sign up a former Indy 500 winner in the form of Ryan Hunter-Reay to replace me: that shows what a top team they are!
Clashes are something I shouldn’t encounter between Formula E and the FIA World Endurance Championship. That’s been my biggest programme of 2017 so far, with G-Drive Racing, and the good thing is that WEC and Formula E try their utmost not to have any calendar clashes, so it’s my plan to continue in both championships. I’ve just had my latest race in the G-Drive ORECA-Gibson in Mexico City, where I finished fourth in the LMP2 class with Roman Rusinov and Pierre Thiriet.
It was a strange race. We qualified fourth and we had a really strong car. I nearly passed everyone into Turn 1 on the outside, but Nicolas Lapierre got his elbows out and there was a bit of a melee! Once I cleared Oliver Jarvis, and later Lapierre, everything was good as I settled into second place and we had some really strong speed. I had some good battles when I was driving and I’m very pleased with my performance. Things didn’t quite go our way when I wasn’t driving, but it was great to be back in the car for the first time since the Le Mans 24 Hours.
I’m excited that we’re now into the flyaway races in the WEC, because it’s a really nice part of the championship. We lost a lot of points at Le Mans so that kind of makes it less stressful for myself, Pierre and Roman now. We just want to go out and win as many races as we can, and it’ll be interesting to see how we do.