Paris Formula E Review

It was a better race for me in the Paris round of the FIA Formula E Championship than Rome in the previous event. This time I finished the race, but our slightly disappointing qualifying meant that 14th place was the best I could do once the race got under way.

We went there in high spirits with DS Virgin Racing – Paris is the home race for DS and it’s a track where the team has gone well in the past. As we got down to free practice on Saturday morning, things seemed to be going well. I was sixth in the first session, so we were looking quite good. In the second session I was 11th, but we didn’t really get a clear run on the 200kW laps at high power, so although the position wasn’t good we were confident that the pace was there.

Everything felt good, and we were quite optimistic going into qualifying. But it just didn’t happen. My qualifying lap itself wasn’t so bad, but the problem was that the grid was so tight and we were just on the wrong end of a couple of tenths. I was only three tenths away from making Superpole, and I was just six tenths from the overall fastest time, but that was good enough only for 16th. Those are exactly the tiny margins you’d expect in Formula E.

Once some penalties had been applied to other drivers, I moved up to 15th on the grid. It was always going to be difficult to overtake on a circuit like Paris, so we wanted to try to do something a little bit off-piste on strategy and try to save energy in the first stint, and hopefully give us more usable energy with the second car. But a full-course yellow at the start of the race put paid to that, because it meant that everybody had more energy to play with, and it was difficult to do anything about that. The race just spread out a bit too much.

Once I got past Nico Prost I caught the group in front of me by about three seconds in the first stint. We had OK pace, we had a decent stop, but that was it really. Through the second stint the race was a bit of a stalemate until the finish. Everything ran pretty flawlessly for us, I have to say – the problem was we weren’t as high up the grid as we wanted to be. So the aim for the next round in Berlin has to be to get back to what we were doing previously, and that’s to be in the hunt for a Superpole position and starting nearer the front.

I can also look forward to my first two events with Aston Martin Racing that are coming up. First of all I go to Spa next weekend for the opening round of the FIA World Endurance Championship, where I share a Vantage GTE with Jonny Adam and Maxime Martin, and the following weekend it’s a short trip over the Belgian-German border for the Nurburgring 24 Hours. I’m very excited. The Aston Martin is a brand-new car, but we’ve done a lot of testing and I hope we’ll be in the fight for the win at Spa. But all eyes will definitely be on the big one: the Le Mans 24 Hours in June!