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Formula E: Curtains Close in Valencia, Vandoorne Speaks on Press Conference about Hamilton

After three intense running days, pre-season testing is over. Next stop, the season opener in Santiago de Chile next January, the first round of the series as a World Championship.

But before the teams started packing, the Circuit Ricardo Tormo saw a six-hour testing session and a driver´s press conference.

BMW i Andretti Motorsport´s Max Guenther reached the top of the timesheets, concluding testing with a flying lap 1:11.760s.

The progress of the BMW iFE.21 and Guenther over the last three days was constant and noticeably, concluding with the young German setting the fastest time of testing.

Almost stepping onto Guenther shoes was Sergio Sette Camara of Dragon Penske Autosport, setting a final lap time of 1:11.796s.

Sette Camara´s teammate Nico Mueller (1:11.810s), reigning champion Antonio Felix da Costa – crossing the finish line in third with the upgraded version of the DS E-TENSE FE20 (1.11.815s), and Jaguar Racing´s Mitch Evans (1:11.880s), completed the Top 5 on Tuesday.

In pre-season testing, the teams test varied setups, run different testing programs for their drivers, who use the time on and off-track to familiarize themselves with their cars, improve their performances, learn how to deal with energy management, and all things related to the driving of a Formula E car; screen times are not necessarily a reflection of where each really stands until the first race of the season kicks off.

Having said that, finishing testing as the fastest man on track is like the cherry on top of the pie.

Over the last seasons, Formula E fans got used that the series is synonymous with intense and fierce competition, but if you think you´ve seen it all, think again.

The conclusion one can get from observing the work that came to an end in Valencia is that 2020/21 ABB FIA Formula E World Championship will be as tight as it can be.

The inaugural campaign as a World Championship features a high-level driver´s lineup and advanced technology, all in a friendly environment.

The all-electric series is the first global sport to be certified with a net-zero-carbon footprint from inception.

TUESDAY DRIVER´S PRESS CONFERENCE

For the last time this year, a Formula E driver´s press conference took place at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo.

The guests were reigning champion Antonio Felix da Costa of DS Techeetah, Mercedes Benz EQ´s Stoffel Vandoorne, and Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler´s Rene Rast.

The latter will be making his debut as a full-time driver with the German team, after replacing Daniel Abt at the six-race grand finale in August, driving for the team at the Berlin E-Prix.

Rene Rast (DEU) Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler, in the press conference

Berlin felt like my job interview. It was all new. The first three races felt like a punching ball and learned what Formula E was the hard way

Rast further explained: “Those races were crucial for me to be ready and take any useful learnings to the following season.”

The team recently announced to be joining the Dakar Rally, replacing Audi’s factory involvement in Formula E after the 2021 season.

The use of the newly developed Audi powertrain by customer teams will remain possible beyond next year,” stated the team.

Formula E Chairman Alejandro Agag referred to the subject with an Instagram post where he says: “Thanks to Audi for all these years of support and partnership and best of luck on your new challenges.”

He concluded by advising everyone to stay alert as “a replacement is coming soon!

Stoffel Vandoorne, who completed 78 laps on the final day of testing, started the press conference by outlining the last three days in Valencia.

Pretty solid testing for us. We wanted to run through our own program and focusing on procedures and operations.

Adding: “The win in Berlin brought confidence in the team since managed to finish strong after a tough couple of races. We want to continue that momentum. We have a new powertrain this season – Anything can happen!

 

E-racing had the opportunity to address the following questions to the Mercedes Benz EQ driver – who is also a reserve driver with the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 team, at the press conference.

ERN: How do you assess the team´s performance during these days of testing in Valencia?, Are there any chances for you to replace Lewis Hamilton next weekend at the F1 Sakhir GP?

Those are quite different questions!” he said sharing a giggle.

And continued: “It has been a good three days of testing for us. Like I mention it is a new powertrain for us, which we introduced in testing and there are still plenty of little things we are learning about itSo far, we’ve not had big problems, which at this stage, I would say, is the main thing

It feels like compared to last year, at the same time, we are a lot more advanced. We are looking into many more details. Yeah, kind of really focusing on preparing the season, let’s say, rather than to put down a result right here; let’s wait and see how it turns out.”

Regarding the possibility of replacing Hamilton – who tested positive for COVID-19 – this weekend in Bahrain, the Belgian stated: “I am anyway going to Bahrain, so I’m catching a flight tomorrow.

The 28-year-old added: “At the moment, I don’t know what is going to happen. I know there is a chance for me, for me to drive, but let’s wait and see. I’m driving there tomorrow and yeah, I’ll find out probably.

Antonio Felix da Costa referred to the fact of starting Season 7 with the DS E-TENSE FE20 powertrain, also assessing the team´s performance at testing.

 

 

There are pros and cons in starting the season with the old powertrain. We know what we have and we’re very confident we can still be competitive, but we are very maxed out on performance. Other teams coming with powertrains will have a steeper learning curve

After three days here we know we have a great car and we can fight next season.”

The Portuguese driver highlighted: “Formula E is so unpredictable with its format, everyone has a chance at being at the front. We were all pretty close here, it’s going to be very competitive this season

I am ready to work with the team and work to win another title again. It’ll be fun!

Images courtesy of Formula E.

About Cecilia Demartini
Cecilia is a freelance Journalist passionate about motorsport and writing.
Her articles appeared on a variety of international media outlets.
Her knowledge goes from F1, F2, and F3 to other series such as MotoGP, IndyCar, Rally, WEC, and particularly Formula E.