F1 is behind me, says rejuvenated Jean-Eric Vergne as he targets Hong Kong win and Formula E title
Former Toro Rosso driver jubilant after first Formula E win in Montreal finale, and feels he can kick off next season with a bang at Central Harbourfront
At least when he next comes to Hong Kong in December for the opening race of the new Formula E season, Jean-Eric Vergne will have a little more time to get over the jetlag.
“Just landed in Hong Kong, I don’t know what’s my name anymore,” the Frenchman joked in a tweet on Tuesday.
The exuberant celebrations after winning his first ePrix in Sunday’s second part of a season-ending Montreal double header may not have helped either, having had to board a flight the next day.
A post shared by JEV (@jeanericvergne) on Aug 1, 2017 at 4:42am PDT
Vergne may have been bleary-eyed as he sat talking to the Post at Conrad Hotel in Admiralty, but the victory was sweet vindication for a driver who left the prestige and riches of Formula One behind to pursue a new challenge.
“It’s quite hard to be in a car where I should be happy with eighth place,” the 27-year-old admitted of his two-year stint with Toro Rosso between 2012-14. “My mentality should have been different.
“What happened, happened. Things happen for reasons. Today I’m much happier, I can fight for podiums and wins. I believe I’m in the right place.
“I miss the Formula One car, it was really nice to drive. But I’m racing much better conditions in Formula E.”
Vergne, who was also a Ferrari test and development driver from 2015 to 2016, was in town along with his Techeetah team principal Mark Preston to promote next season’s opening double header in Hong Kong over December 2-3.
He was quickest in practice on Techeetah’s Formula E debut in Hong Kong last October, but a red flag in his group disrupted his qualifying effort and he eventually stopped with a battery failure on the water pump in the race.
“I think the track here suited us very well last year,” said Vergne. “I was on my way to pole before I got the red flag. We are very confident coming back to this track that we will perform well. I’m sure our Renault engine will be even better for next season.”
After a tricky introduction to Formula E, Vergne now feels he and his team are ready to fight for the championship, starting with a victory on Central Harbourfront.
“I improved massively this season from an energy management point of view – when to fight, not to fight,” he said.
“I believe now I’m a much more complete driver for this car. It’s not easy for a new driver to come and compete, it always takes time.
“I feel relieved, after so much hard work during the season, and a lot of ups and downs. We were always very close to victory but never got it.”
Techeetah were the highest scoring team over the last four races on the season, with two double podiums.
“It’s very motivating to have this win under our belts,” said Vergne. “We proved to everyone, mainly to ourselves, that we could do it. It put the whole team on a different level for next season.
“Our target before this win would have been to win races next season, but now we have proved we can win, our target should be to win the championship.
“This is what we should achieve. This should be everybody’s goal in the team, to walk towards that same direction. It was an important step.”