Vergne decries ‘horrible’ Formula E strategy races after finishing second

Jean-Eric Vergne has “absolutely no regrets” about missing out on victory in the first race of the Berlin E-Prix doubleheader, but was less than happy about how the race itself played out.

The DS Penske driver started third on the grid and remained in victory contention throughout, despite an aggressive 46 laps that had multiple drivers forcing their way to the front. But Nick Cassidy saved energy early on and shot from a low of 21st to win in a drive that surprised everyone — and why Vergne said “I feel as if I won.”

“We had a great qualifying, a great race,” he told RACER. “I’m always angry when I don’t win, but tonight I leave the track very happy with the job we’ve done as a team and I have absolutely no regret not to have won the race today.”


Nevertheless, Vergne is unimpressed by the trend toward “peloton races” where drivers conserve energy early on to ensure they have enough to fight at the end, resulting in tight pack races and multiple passes. And he says he’s not the only driver displeased with the style of races that have proven popular among viewers.

“It’s horrible. Honestly, I really don’t like this kind of racing — I hate it,” he said. “And I think every driver hates it but it’s the way we have to race. We’re here to compete, we’re here to win, so if we have to drive in reverse, we will have to learn to drive in reverse.

“That doesn’t mean that I like this kind of racing — it’s truly horrible from a drivers’ point of view. It’s a mess.”

Despite the success of Cassidy’s strategy, Vergne doesn’t see himself attempting a similar approach in Sunday’s race, insisting that “it’s going to be key again to have a good qualifying and stay more or less at the front.”

“When you’re leading the race like I was, ‘You cannot take the risk. It’s impossible,’” he said when asked if emulating Cassidy would be an option. “Because then if you imagine you have a safety car, the energy target becomes higher and then you cannot overtake any more.

“It was a calculated bet for him because he was last and had nothing to lose anyway. It was smart, I would have done the same, but all the things played in his favor — the second safety car, the target being lower, and everybody struggling on energy because everybody was fighting. It worked well but if you do 10 races it might not happen again like this.”

Vergne felt like he and the DS Penske team played all their cards correctly but were still sitting ducks for Cassidy and Jaguar the way the race played out. Andrew Ferraro/Motorsport Images

Cassidy’s charge didn’t just catch out Vergne on track, but his team too, although he knew once Cassidy was behind him he wouldn’t be able to hold the Jaguar TCS Racing man off.

“Even my engineer didn’t see him coming and when he told me he had two-and-a-half percent more energy, I knew the race was over,” Vergne admitted. “It made no sense to fight it.

“That’s why I feel this second place is a little bit like a win because if you remove him, we did actually a very good job considering all the guys that were around and all the fighting. At one point I was P7, so to come back, we showed good strength, good strategy as well.”

Story originally appeared on Racer