Formula E not inferior to F1, says Vergne

Formula E

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Jean-Eric Vergne says he doesn’t consider Formula E a lower category than Formula One anymore.

Vergne is leading the points standings after eight of the 12 Formula E races in the current season. He told RaceFans he’d rather be at the front of that field than driving for a midfield team in F1.

“If you are in a situation in a team [where] you know it’s nearly mission impossible to get to Ferrari or Mercedes or Red Bull, if you are not in the position of Pierre Gasly or Esteban Ocon for example, I would rather be in a different category and win. Now of course I’m in the best position to judge being in Formula E.”

The former Toro Rosso driver joined the all-electric single-seater championship after losing his F1 seat in 2014. He admitted he has changed his mind about the category since then.

“In the beginning I did consider Formula E a lower category but not anymore. When you start to earn more money in Formula E that what I used to be in Formula E, when I have a lot more publicity in Formula E than what I used to have in Formula One, I don’t consider it a lower category any more.

“Definitely I’m much happier in Formula E, winning races and fighting for the championship, than being in a team and just fighting in some races for some points.”

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He pointed out the extent of manufacturer involvement in Formula E indicates how important the series has become.

“Just looking at the figures, looking at the facts, we have nearly three times more manufacturers in Formula E as we have in Formula One. It makes sense for them because they’re showcasing the technology of the cars they’re going to sell tomorrow to everybody and it’s important for them.

Jean-Eric Vergne, Techeetah, Formula E, Paris, 2018
Vergne rises above Paris controversies for home win
“So if it’s a championship that’s important for big manufacturers such as Porsche, Audi, Mercedes, Renault, Jaguar, it means that it’s important. Then it’s not up to me to judge if it’s as important as Formula One.”

Another target for Vergne is winning this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours. He is driving in the World Endurance Championship round at Spa this weekend for LMP2 team G-Drive.

“Here I do it for Le Mans,” he said. “I love Le Mans. Last year my first race was amazing, I really loved it. This year I want to be back in a winning team and a winning car.”

“When I was on the grid it was my strongest feeling, the emotions. It was amazing, [I had] goosebumps coming.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...
Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...

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45 comments on “Formula E not inferior to F1, says Vergne”

  1. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
    4th May 2018, 18:52

    Yes Formula E is faster, draws in bigger crowds and has higher viewing figures. Definitely not a lower category.

    1. lol exactly!

    2. Paul's Dad.
      4th May 2018, 19:03

      Not to mention that F1 is where drivers who are dropped by Formula E teams go to.

    3. jamesluke2488
      4th May 2018, 20:03

      Bigger crowds? I doubt it

      Faster cars? I doubt it

      A 600million fanbase worldwide? nope

      The best drivers in the world? nope most are ex F1 drivers who couldnt make it

      Great race tracks? nope

      Formula E is far from been on F1s level

      1. They are above Williams level

      2. You should get your sarcasm detector checked out because its clearly broken.

      3. Fudge Kobayashi (@)
        6th May 2018, 8:12

        lol, he was being sarcastic dude.

    4. Not to mention nobody dared to claim F1 is not inferior to FE.

  2. Says the former F1 driver…

  3. I wonder how he’d feel about it if he were at the bottom of the standings….

  4. I wouldn’t want to judge or compare the two series, as they are not meant to compete with each other, they are both on the highest level of their separate single seater branch (even though E doesn’t have too dense feeder levels underneath). Formula One has its own accute issues determined by a lot of factors and now maybe under the consideration of a fundamental change, meanwhile Formula-E was built up from scratch and had the chance to proactively estabilish itself and didn’t have to deal with old skeletons falling out of the closet. Formula-E started as an oldboy selection of former burnt out F1 drivers but nowadays attracts young and really talented drivers, however their lineup as a whole isn’t on that high level as F1’s, but they have their standout drivers nevertheless. The presence of some of the big names of the car industry is really encouraging as they can use the series as a test lab for a technology the world is going to need sooner or later, meanwhile providing themselves with a realtively cheap publicity, and the series growth looks exceptional. I can understand the frustration of F1 drivers deprived of topteam seats and I can understand the relief of JEV heading a high level championship of more or less equally strong constructions, but instead of idolizing one series and hating the other, why shouldn’t we enjoy both? They have different things to offer, but have a lot to offer.

    1. @andrewt

      they are not meant to compete with each other

      I don’t agree. Those involved in the championships will always say that. But those manufacturers bring huge credibility, investment and exposure. F1 would love to have the likes of Audi, BMW and Porsche lining up to join/rejoin.

      1. They still don’t compete though. Assume the series’ markets are the manufacturers, not the viewers for a moment.

        Formula E is like the McDonalds of motor racing. You go there, buy the car, put a team together, slap some stickers on. It’s cheap, you know the costs, know what you’re getting, it’s easy to compete and get that return on investment. That’s what they are selling.

        Formula 1 is like the top 5 star michelen hat cheffed restaraunt. It’s the most expensive, the product is the finest in existence. Just earning a seat at the table will cost you more than you want to know. The food might not even be all that great by standard palates. It’s not the easy choice…

        Now does F1 want as many customers as possible? Probably yeh, they’d want all the manufacturers, I just don’t think they are competing for the same audience there at all. Maybe they should lower the cost to entry and get their stick out of their behind which is what they kind of want to do. But then you have Ferrari who have been coming there for years, and half the other customers come just to be seen eating with them at this point and they don’t want things to change at all… It’s all a bit of a mess.

        I see why the FIA are doing what they are doing with Formula E and I think it’s great in its own way, I can still imagine them merging some point, many years down the line.

        1. @skipgamer)
          “Formula E is like the McDonalds of motor racing. You go there, buy the car, put a team together, slap some stickers on. It’s cheap, you know the costs, know what you’re getting”

          It can’t be described, let alone stupidly ‘like Mcdonalds’ as it’s been purposely heavily restricted taking baby steps from infancy. State of the art tech has been turned down for safety reasons. They have only just freed up battery positioning to help more development. The new cars will be too fast for street circuits so will have speed limiters.The small tracks are due to not carrying enough juice.

          What will partly attract the big manufacturers is that Formula E has been evolving and will continue to evolve. Anything is possible. They can go full body cars or back to open wheels to suit tastes at different times with nobody complaining. Those knocking it don’t even know what they are knocking or what it will eventually become. It seems they the are slowly putting together a package to make the whole weekend entertaining, interesting and eventually where cutting edge technology belongs. They are being supported by the Jaguar Electric car series and then the cars controlled by computers, which is where F1 would have ended up if the rules had allowed. F1 drivers are currently managed more by computer software than they manage the car themselves, leading to false ways of overtaking.
          Formula E will have everything covered with electric technology and is still open to any new forms of power sources that come or long or better ways of charging/changing the batteries.

          1. If you don’t understand the restaurant analogy fair enough. All I’m trying to say is that it’s a very low cost alternative when compared to F1 for manufacturers due to its limited room for development.

            I agree there is technology being developed there that is important and will play a part in the future of motorsports…

      2. @keithcollantine

        Thank you for your answer, I really appriciate that, and that’s an absolutley fair point. But even though F1 would welcome (back) many of those car manufacturers FE currently has or will be joined, I don’t really see what they have done in order to attract them (however the planned reorganization of the prize money system might be considered as a first step). Yes, F1 in theory is the pinnacle of motorsport, with the most advanced technology, the fastest cars, the best drivers and offers a massive world wide presence but in exchange for an insane budget and a very low chance to challenge the status quo. I would think that the aim of the low cost construction of FE was primarily to make it easy for any outfit to enter the sport, with enthusiastic privateers in mind, but they still ended up as a magnet for car manufacturers because of the cost efficiency. However the two series don’t lure the manufacturers away from each other, as the example of Mercedes or Renault shows, it is possible to be present in both at the same time if they see the adequate incentive or reward.

        1. @andrewt
          “I don’t really see what they have done in order to attract them”

          They probably like the fact that it’s still evolving and anything is possible. Maybe they see it could be easier to influence there than in F1.

          Remember that the German manufacturers were badly caught napping by Tesla and were almost visibly seen tripping over themselves to do something, anything, not to get left further behind.

          These manufacturers also seem quite excited about WRX going electric in 2020. Volkswagen reportedly entering Pikes Peak with an EV as a primer.

      3. I agree with with. They do are competitors.

        Formula E did many, many things right: it really stands above and beyond other attempts of new single seater series, like A1 GP, formula Masters to name a few. Formula E’s attracting the major manufacturers and at the same time having competitive independents make for a great racing show.

        It did start with former formula 1 drivers. But like Vergne says, there are only a handful of spots in the top teams in Formula 1 and maybe some excellent talent just doesn’t get the competitive chance to prove themselves in the still top ladder of single seater motorsport.

        Obviously Formula 1 has the tradition, the History, the speed, the Historic circuits and the fanbase. But Formula 1’s fanbase is aging, and we do need a Senna, Prost rivalry or a Hakkinen Schumacher, Alonso Schumacher to keep the romance, the drama more alive to inspire new generations. We are not getting it with Vettel and Hamilton in a strange way- even with last year’s Baku incident.

        Formula E is attracting the newer generations, with its Urban setting, its perceivably “future oriented” technology(even though we are talking one make chassis and standard components that are shared) , its PR friendly energy and noise opening up city centres…

        It would foolish to disregard formula E as a competitor for the single seater top spot. The technology will evolve, the ones leading the show seem very competent and knowing what they are doing. They will figure out the energy and speed part in the near future. And then, it will be difficult to differentiate both products.

        Formula 1 is in front, its still the pinnacle and has many advantages. But needs to really look into the future and rethink its strategies to try to not become obsolete. Just look at the World Touring Car Championship and TCR. Its now the WTCR, a merger of both, for a reason. This might be a possible future…

  5. While the driver quality of FE and F1 is huge, I see that as a temporary gulf which will bridge in next 3-5 years.
    In other every metric, FE will eventually beat F1 as all money from constructors and others will flow into FE drying up F1

    1. FlatSix (@)
      4th May 2018, 19:52

      I’m afraid you couldn’t be more wrong. The cost to run one F1 team almost equals that of the entire FE grid. It’s like saying all Ferrari owners will sooner or later drive Hyundai’s because Hyundai made one great car.

    2. I doubt that. The Formula E media are as circumspect with information and real/all facts as Friends of the Earth or Greenpeace about to enter a court of law!!
      Lets see, Maximum power used is around the same as F3 with FE weighing 50% more. Only 30% of F1 power.
      Manufacturers are in for the EV politics driven by corrupt Government scams. They are already balking at the free battery development “when FE is ready”. They already know the costs and likelihood of significant ED improvements.
      Gimmicks – S5 cars will do a a full race distance. Do the maths, no way without power management. Oh surprise, max power of 200kW, but new gimmick of compulsory power modes signalled by flashing HALO LEDs.
      How much of a F1 car is spec? Sensors, ECU, HALO …. FE Its quicker to say free Powertrain & rear suspension.
      Yep F1 is obviously better by any metric you choose??

      1. Corrupt governments have also been behind the oil industry, promotion of the motor car in general over quality of life and over proper public transport infrastructure for an increasing population.

  6. The first thing that struck me about Formula E was that the drivers were enjoying it and always look happy almost like it was part of grass-roots.
    Hopefully as it grows bigger it wont evolve some of the culture that spoils F1, like generally being up its own backside and becoming far less accessable.

    1. Yes, that’s typically the mark of a lower race class. When the stakes are lower there is more time for “fun”

  7. FE seems to be improving but they urgently need to solve the truncated races.
    Street circuits are important budgetwise and attendancewise but the car always look constrained, almost stopping in a traffic jam.

  8. I would rather be in a different category and win

    that’s only because he CAN’T be in F1… he’d have stayed at Toro Rosso for another year rather than switch to Formula E, even if winning races were a given there.

  9. Paul (@frankjaeger)
    4th May 2018, 23:31

    Right, who’s gonna tell him?

  10. I guess his techno DJ career dried up

    1. Fudge Kobayashi (@)
      6th May 2018, 8:17

      @alebelly you’re thinking of Jaime Alguersuari.

      Vergne was the guy that missed out on the promotion to RB to Danny Ric, even though the both were very closely matched and I believe Vergne even beat him on merit across a season. Now they have duds like Hartley!

  11. I wonder how many people actually read the article before commenting. I’m sure many but not all.

    He makes several very valid points from his perspective as a driver, and it’s good to hear he is happy with what he is doing. However naturally as a fan I disagree with him, and I question whether he would say no if somebody offered him an F1 drive for next year.

    As I said recently, Jev is certainly more than deserving of an F1 seat. A few days ago I looked at some stats of how many times he beat / was beaten by his F1 team-mates. I lost count once or twice so the figures may be one or two out but it gives a picture:

    Vergne:Ricciardo for two seasons:
    13:14 excluding races where one retired
    17:23 including retirements

    Vergne:Kvyat for one season:
    6:5 excluding retirements
    9:8 including retirements

    That’s not bad against the man who is now reportedly wanted by all three top teams. I haven’t looked how their points compared though, but nevertheless it’s a shame to think what could’ve been for Vergne.

    Vergne scored 275% of Kvyat’s points tally, and we all know how that ended for Kvyat. Looking back it wouldn’t surprise me if Red Bull were waiting for Verstappen

    1. Yep yep, JEV was good and I remember it was quite a question at the time which was better between him and Ricciardo. It’s no surprise he’s at the top of Formula E with the competition there.

    2. If you read the whole article he’s basically saying it’s a lower formula and he likes it because of that

      1. @patrickl

        The racer who Senna rated the highest and beat him, wanted to stay in the lower Formula i.e Karting and wasn’t interested in following Senna. I remember there also being an Italian World champion in Karting who didn’t want to leave Karting.

  12. If you want to keep your job you have to be nice to your employer.

  13. It would be much more convincing if you still in F1.

  14. Quite a few people play the manufacturers card these days when talking about FE, but I wonder if they remember what happened to F1 pretty recently. Obviously, its great for FE to have them now even if they knew for sure that they will all leave in 5 years – which they likely wouldnt.
    However, I hope that F1’s current goal is to get good sustainability without any major outside factors such as tobacco/manufacturers/green party/whatever else.
    And I think it should be, and the fact that its pretty achievable for F1 (all the while retaining these enourmous viewing figures and most of the money) is pretty impressive and highlights the gulf between F1 and some other series

  15. If F1 is going to dumb down the tech in order to be cheaper I can see it happening that FE will be the faster F1 in 5 to 10 years or so. Of course FIA sets the rules for both so it could be that they keep FE from getting there. The future of automotive is electric. Which is kind of a pity since this is one of the last true machines in use and not a smartphone on 4 wheels. However from health and future of planet earth perspective it will be the better solution.

    1. F1 cars are managed by software often ahead of the driver. ‘True machines’ disappeared years ago.

  16. I like JEV, great driver and should have more time in F1- glad he is happy in FE and hope get grabs the title.

    F1 & FE definitely are in direct competition with each other. Not for outright car performance but for car manufactures that are in one or the other, sponsorship dollars, TV viewing and spectators (the more people coming to your country to watch a car race, the more they spend, the more the promoter pays).

    But while the two co-exist F1 will always be the superior formula. But what I like is how FE promotes electric cars that certainly will help the future, so thats a great thing. Saying F1 kills the world is naïve- its the other cars and industry all over the world that does (and lack of government intervention). Running an F1 race to an FE race would have more environmental impact, marginally, but what about flying and shipping the two categories around the world? About the same?

    1. @garns
      Formula E doesn’t have to be green-centric. We will soon get to the point where boy-racers buy Electric cars because they are faster and cheaper. There have been people into electricity/electronics who’ve picked up this along time ago e.g the Drag racers who wernt trying to be green. There are some awesome electric drag racers.
      The other thing is due to the lower costs more people will be able to participate which brings the costs down even more and things like low noise will mean events can be held all over the place and into the night. Motorcross and Karting for example has suffered due to it not being neighbourhood friendly with the noise.

      1. @bigjoe – good comnent I guess I never thought of cheaper cost at entry level, but that’s a good point.

        But I still think F1 needs to keep boots in and all!! It’s the best motor racing for sure

  17. Hahahahahahahahaa

  18. hahahhahhahahahhahahahaahhaaha…….!!!!!!!!!

  19. If an F1 team came knocking on his door for him to drive, im sure FE would become a distant memory for him. Guaranteed.

  20. First of all, FE is absolutely inferior in every meaningful category. However, they are growing very fast, and I think Formula 1 could learn a few tricks from them. Jean Eric does have a point regarding the chance to get a top seat in F1, and that is a big problem that will eventually cause some top talent to go to other categories. But FE… please it’s still too slow, too gimmicky (I can’t articulate how much I hate the ‘fan boost’ garbage), and too full of F1 rejects, which gives the category an air of inferiority.

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