Formula E driver Jean-Eric Vergne at the Toronto International Film Festival (Canada) on September 8, 2019VALERIE MACON
Entrenched “in the countryside” for the duration of the confinement intended to stem the coronavirus pandemic, the French Formula E driver Jean-Eric Vergne divides his time between playing sports and … organizing virtual car races.
“If I have a fortnight or a month in front of me, at least I have a gym, a forest, bikes. So I keep myself in good shape,” says Vergne, who trains without a physical trainer. “It always feels good physically and especially to the head.”
While the next scheduled Formula E race is the Berlin ePrix on June 21, the driver of the DS Techeetah stable is not afraid of being badly prepared when business resumes.
Accustomed not to drive during the offseason, the double defending champion of Formula E assures AFP that this hiatus, sort of “quirky winter”, “does not pose any problem”.
“Mental preparation, in general, is race week,” he adds. “There, we don’t even know when the next one will take place, so there isn’t too much pressure to be put aside.”
In the meantime, “I’m busy trying to create an esports championship,” says Vergne.
“In twelve hours” after the cancellation in extremis of the Grand Prix of Formula 1 of Australia, which was to take place on March 15, he set up with his company Veloce Esports one of the virtual races intended to compensate for this absence , which included the current driver McLaren Lando Norris.
– “Opportunity” –
“In front of this success, we said to ourselves that we had to continue and we are therefore going to do more and more events, whether in motorsport or in other sports”, continues the ex-pilot of F1, which also organized a virtual Bahrain GP on Sunday, in parallel to that held by F1 itself.
“Any crisis has its share of opportunities and it is sure that esports has a great opportunity before it,” said Vergne, 29.
“All children in confinement, what are they going to do? They play video games or watch video game competitions,” he said. “So this is an opportunity for us to give fans of motorsport but also esports something to watch and support.”
“Sportspeople need to focus on a goal they think about all the time,” recalls his boss at DS Performance Xavier Mestelan-Pinon, and it is clear that alongside the businessman, the competitor is never far away.
“I am extremely anxious that the situation should be restored to get behind the wheel because there is a championship to be won”, concludes “JEV”, 8th in the classification of drivers in Formula E at 36 lengths from the leader, his Portuguese teammate Antonio Félix da Costa.
“In any championship, the drivers are always unlucky and I think mine is behind me,” he said. “I have a very good car, the best in Formula E I think, and therefore I have every chance of recovering the points lost. But for that, we need races and, for the moment, I don’t don’t have! “
As it stands, after Berlin on June 21, ePrixes are scheduled in New York on July 11 and then in London on July 25 and 26. And Formula E hopes to reprogram some of the canceled heats. In Sanya (China), Rome, Paris, Seoul, Jakarta, as planned, or elsewhere.