Alex Lynn - New York Formula E review
Pole position for my debut Formula E race! What more can I say? That was a fantastic feeling, and although things didn't go my way in the races because of technical problems, that's an inevitable part of such a high-tech series where everyone's pushing the barriers on what's possible on electric cars.
We had a shakedown on the Friday evening in the teeming rain, which was everyone's first ever taste of the brand-new New York street circuit. You're only allowed six laps in total and you have to drive both cars, but I was fastest in that. And although that doesn't seem a very significant session, it set my confidence ball rolling.
As soon as we hit the track for real on Saturday morning I felt very comfortable with my DS Virgin cars. I topped free practice in the damp first session, which was very good, and everything went really well from the start. In the second session we stuck to our programme and our pace was good despite traffic. Going into qualifying I was confident because I knew I had the car underneath me, and what ensued was quite nice…
Alex with group founder Sir Richard Branson and team principal Alex Tai
There are 20 drivers in Formula E and they're split into four groups of five for the first round of qualifying, and the fastest five overall move into the Superpole, where everything is reset and you start from scratch – just like Q3 in Formula 1. You've got to do a pretty mega lap to get through to Superpole, and I felt confident in the car, the track, everything. I just let it flow, and certainly qualifying this year has been a strong point for me.
I got through to Superpole, and I didn't really feel any pressure because of all the preparation we'd done. I had such a good feeling with the car, the team and the engineers. To everyone outside the team it was a shock that I even got into Superpole on my debut, and I thought I should be OK; I just thought I'd go out and do my best: what will come will come. But I have to admit I didn't expect pole position!
The only annoying thing about that was that pole in New York was not only off the racing line, but on the outside. So I was on the dirty side of the track and I kind of knew I'd lose the lead. That happened, and Daniel Abt got in front, but I was a strong second for a while with my team-mate Sam Bird behind me. I knew Sam was quick so it made no sense to overdefend when he's fighting for a strong championship position; it wasn't my job to block him so I let him go.
After that I had an overheating battery that was affecting performance. Because of that I'd dropped to seventh by the time I came in for my car swap. At that point I jumped up to fifth and I really think fourth was possible, which would have been a great result, but unfortunately I had a driveshaft snap on the second car and that put me out of the race, which was a shame.
We had more issues on Sunday morning, which meant I only got half the free practice session, and with the track rubbering in it was crucial to get as much time out there as possible. That put me at a disadvantage for qualifying, and I ended up 15th on the grid.
Sunday's race was one of the longest in Formula E history, so I knew energy conservation was paramount and we thought we'd be clever. I was settling into the race when we had a system failure that put me out. But at that point I had 3-4% per cent of energy in hand over the five cars in front so I think we could have finished seventh or eighth, and I'd have been happy with that – just as I'd have been happy with fourth on Saturday.
It was a shame, but that's part and parcel of motor racing. I have to congratulate my DS Virgin team-mate Sam Bird for winning both races, and I would love to stay in Formula E – it's such a cool championship. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I hope I can join the grid again!