By Natalia Langsdale | We talk to a French racer who competes in Formula E for DS Virgin Racing, who has competed in Formula 1 for Scuderia Toro Rosso from 2012 to 2014, and is a Scuderia Ferrari test and development driver. He has also won the British Formula 3 Championship in 2010 and then finished second to teammate Robert Wickens in the 2011 Formula Renault 3.5 Series season. Let’s fire a few questions at Jean-Éric Vergne.
You’ve been part of different racing series over the years, are fans also different when racing in Formula Renault 3.5, Formula E, Formula 1?
The way I see it is that the fan base is almost the same across all three of these sports. If you follow sport and you’re passionate about it, then it’s the sport itself that unites all the fans. I’m so lucky to have a great following and it is really nice to see my fan base grow with me and my career since I started as a young driver.
Are modern racing drivers changing?
Apart from the modern drivers perhaps being more familiar with simulators, there is no real difference to me from the past generations. At the end of the day it is still all about having the skill set to be a racer, and I think that’s always going to be most important.
Racing in cities like Baku in Azerbaijan is great, and we see that fans are more than happy to travel long distances now to be part of the Formula 1 scene.
What would your advice be for a driver that’s just taking his or her first steps in motorsport today?
Hard work is definitely recognised, that applies almost everywhere. And given that there are many steps to take before reaching the end goal of becoming a racing driver, it is absolutely crucial to make sure you’re always moving forward towards the target, no matter what you’re doing. Dedication and passion are the two things that will help you a great deal on the way.
How do you see your competitors and what’s your take on winning/losing?
It depends on who wins, of course. Some drivers don’t care about crashing as long as they get to the finish line first. As in any sport, there are more affinities with some more than others. On one hand, racing is a huge industry and you obviously might make friends with your competitors, however ultimately the end goal is to win and the race is the most important focus.
Do you believe Formula 1 should be making moves to new territories or should the sport try to preserve the old Grands Prix?
As much as I think that it could be a good idea to introduce Formula 1 races in new countries, I believe that it’s important to maintain the current schedule of races in the existing locations. Racing in cities like Baku in Azerbaijan is great, and we see that fans are more than happy to travel long distances now to be part of the Formula 1 scene. To move away from Canada for example would not be a good idea, so a mix of new and old to get closer to the fans would be a win-win scenario.