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López: “It feels good to be already competitive”

Jose Maria Lopez has spoken about his weekend at Mexico City ePrix and his World Endurance Championship debut in Silverstone, overshadowed by an accident.

The Argentine DS Virgin Racing driver was close to grabbing his first Formula E win in his fourth race, the Mexico City ePrix, which saw him leading and later spinning off when he was battling for victory.

Afterwards, he made his debut in the FIA World Endurance Championship, racing for Toyota Gazoo Racing in the LMP1 class. Minutes after he got into the car at the Silverstone 6 Hours, he spun off and crashed heavily into the barriers.

“I’m fine, today (Tuesday) I made it home. Yesterday I did the latest checks,” he said to Argentine radio programme Mundo Sport AM Splendid. “The blue safety light turned on after the crash, that means it’s over 18G and so alerts the driver must be checked by the doctors. Mine was 28G.”

“It was over 250kph, many things happened, most of them are new to me. I won’t try to justify my mistake, but I’m still learning. The only good thing in this is it happened early and it will mean some experience to me. When it rains, these cars are really difficult to control on slicks, there’s when you realise how fast these cars go,” he assured about his crash.

As for the reasons which led to his accident, he explained: “There were many things, the car’s rear anti-roll bar was broken, the team had changed some electronics setup to help avoid understeering, so just after a few drops on track, I tried to brake in the worst place. But I will learn a lot of this, the team knows these things may happen. But we must keep strong and move on.”

The onboard camera during the live TV broadcasting showed him inside the cockpit, trying to get his Toyota TS050 Hybrid back to pits with some pain gestures. About that, he made clear: “I haven’t been in touch with social media after the accident, but I must say there was no injury.

“I was taken to Silverstone’s hospital to discard there were internal injuries. Since I still had some pain I was taken to Oxford to be scanned, but doctors said I was OK, they gave me some pills and released me. Today I practically felt no more pain, but of course I will have to undergo a few more checks.

“I understand racing is like this, when things don’t go well, questions come up. Everybody who knows me, knows I always give everything, and if I make a mistake, it’s because I’m chasing a gap. Of course, I’m developing myself in two series which are new totally different to what I was used to, and I’m in professional teams.”

“Despite earning the right to be where I am, it doesn’t mean I don’t need to adapt to these. In that adaptation period things can happen, but I feel no pressure. I think I have nothing to prove, instead, it can be during every day. When things go well you’re the king, and when they don’t, you’re the worst student in the classroom.”

“I enjoy what I do, it’s my passion, but when things don’t go like in the previous years, the fans start asking question,” was his reflecion about his accident, when asked if he was starting to feel pressure to demonstrate his skills with stronger results.

About his weekend in Mexico, he stated: “Formula E is a single-seater, which I haven’t driven for a decade, and it’s also different to everything else, like having to manage energy. Mexico left a bitter taste, but it was a crazy race, the winner crashed on the first lap, two safety cars…without those safety cars I can say the race was going to be mine, but it feels good to be already competitive.

“Back to WEC, this was the hardest crash I had in my career, these cars go really fast. To give a picture of this, Kamui Kobayashi’s best lap in qualifying would have placed him 5th or 6th in a Formula 1 Grand Prix’s average pace,” he later described the LMP1 cars’ power.

“I had never driven the Toyota in the conditions I had on Sunday. To drive through traffic is a nice experience, and while we were in 100% condition, we were really quick and leaders. Of course it has not been the debut I would have dreamed, because of my mistake, but I did enjoy my weekend. It’s a place where I wanted to be for many years.

“The team has set up a trio of similar drivers, and the setup works fine for Mike, Kamui and me. As it was known I was not going to qualify, I did never run with new tyres, I focused more on the race’s pace. It made no sense for me to go and try to set a quick laptime, my target was to make sure the car could go well in every stint. The most important thing is that we’ve won the first race and we’re looking strong,” he finished.

Francisco Aure |
Interview translated from Spanish

Images courtesy of FIA Formula E Media
WEC image courtesy of Rajan Jangda

About Topher Smith
Topher is an experienced and passionate Motorsport journalist with Formula E, Formula 1, GP2/F2, GP3 and IndyCar all on his resume. When he isn't at the trackside you can find him furthering his own capabilities and knowledge through his endless search for original ideas and material. Also plays league pool.