Jean-Eric Vergne, the former Formula One driver now turned darling of the Formula E Virgin DS team and Mumm Champagne’s Formula E Ambassador, talks to the Luxury Channel about the future of battery powered cars, and what he misses most about Formula One….
Hope you’ve recovered from your crash earlier? [Our interview takes place a couple of hours after Jean-Eric Vergne crashed during qualifying]
I did, but the car has yet to do so!
Is Formula One a sport in decline by comparison to Formula E?
Looking at the profits of Formula One, I think it’d be a bit of a mistake to say it’s a sport in decline. There are ups and downs with Formula One, because the world is changing – in particular when it comes to digital imagery. I think that Formula E is in the lead in the area of social media, for example. I strongly believe that it is becoming a recognised championship for car manufacturers and I reckon it will continue to expand, as producers show their customers, and show ordinary people, that the technologies they are developing through Formula E are technologies which will reach everyday cars, which was the case with Formula One a few years ago and is no longer the case today.
Do you think Formula E has helped to make the electric car any sexier in the eyes of consumers?
Of course. We do brilliant itineraries in brilliant locations. These are cars within everyone’s reach. Of course it’s sexy, and rather cool.
Do you ever miss anything from Formula One when at the wheel of a Formula E car?
I miss everything. The roar of the engine. The braking. The grip. The speed. Everything’s different.
So why are you in this sport?
Because I’ve come out of F1. To say I came out of Formula One to come over here would be a lie but to me, this was the best championship available aside from Formula One and as I’m still quite young, I chose to invest myself into a championship that had a future.
Don’t you think Formula E will develop quickly? I spoke to an engineer earlier on who told me that Formula E might be able to equal Formula One’s speed within the next three years….
I’m not an engineer, so I don’t know. I hope this is indeed possible. If one looks at the technology two years ago, it wasn’t going anywhere. Nowadays, we are driving at 130mph on electric battery. The curb of technological advances is a gradual one.
So you don’t think Formula E could compete with Formula One, even if the speeds were equal?
There is only one reason why Formula E cannot compete with Formula One, and that is history. Formula E might well be writing history, but the history of Formula One is Ferrari, a whole era which no-one will ever forget. In that regard, the history of F1 will remain that of F1. But Formula E is a competitive championship and that’s the main thing.
Finally, could you tell us how you would personally go about promoting Formula E?
Night races. With champagne that glows in the dark!
Formula E is sponsored by Mumm Champagne – for more information, visit www.mumm.com. Mumm Grand Cordon is available at The Ritz London, and from Soho Wine for £39.00. To read our article about the Formula E World Championship, click here.