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VERGNE: Santiago Debrief

Jean-Eric Vergne submits his e-racing365 column after winning the Santiago E-Prix…

Photo: Formula E

Wow, what a weekend! To claim pole position and a 1-2 finish this early in the season, with such little testing, feels amazing.

The whole team should take a bow for this achievement. It is special and historic because we are the first team to have ever claimed the top two steps of the podium in Formula E history.

First of all, I would like to say thanks to the people of Chile. What a beautiful country. We enjoyed spending time in Santiago and racing there for the first time, I loved every moment of it.

On the Thursday before the race we visited the Instituto del Cancer ahead of World Cancer Day. We have a lot of members of the team that has family and friends affected by this terrible disease and we wanted to help the organisation to raise awareness for Feb. 4 which is the annual World Cancer Day.

It was a big emotional experience to visit some patients there and also to see the magnificent work that is being done by the doctors and nurses. It was an unforgettable and humbling morning.

After the Marrakesh test last month, which was very important for us because it gave us a rare opportunity to test, we arrived at Santiago in a really positive frame of mind.

The results of the test were obvious straight away, as we found a good initial setup and I was able to get to grips with the track, which was interesting for the challenges it presented to us all.

So I would like to thank James Rossiter and Fred Makowiecki for the valuable work in Marrakesh.

The track bumps were unbelievable and it was a tricky circuit to get just right. But this is very much part of the challenge in Formula E and one of the things I love about it. The harder the task, the deeper the satisfaction when it all comes good.

I ran P3 in FP1 and P1 in FP2 so I had a really solid start in the practice sessions.

Qualifying was always going to be hard but we rose to the challenge. My laps in qualifying and then Super Pole were not perfect, but they got the job done and I managed to secure my sixth pole position in the championship.

What was almost as pleasing to see, was the way in which Andre [Lotterer] got everything together. Ever since he came to Techeetah it has been interesting to see how he has adapted.

He only drove the car for three days in Valencia before the season started, so it was always going to take a few races to get in to the groove and to see him in P1 before Super Pole was really good for the team.

We are both team players and we are pushing together to make the team as successful as possible.

At the start, I saw Andre making a good start but also Piquet coming from nowhere on the outside. I held him off, then the Safety Car came out almost immediately.

Photo: Formula E

At the restart I managed to surprise Nelson to get an advantage, so I could save more energy until he closed in.

Andre and I made a Jaguar sandwich and enjoyed the battle for a while, but it was good when Andre managed to overtake him. When I saw him in my mirrors it was a nice sight.

The pit stop was perfect from the team and I came out with a slight cushion. However, the second stint was really tough, I had to concentrate super hard.

Andre got really close and there was some confusion, as I believed I had to save energy more than I actually had to as I had no communication to the team and was just following what my dashboard was saying.

Both the radio and the TV had a black out, so it was uncertain what I had to do to bring the car home!

When Andre attacked it was a big surprise for me and I thought there was no way he could be that quick and finish the race.

He touched the back of my car and for a moment we had all eight wheels locked, and all I could see was the wall in front of us.

But it worked out ok and we managed to get out of our tangle just in time. It was all fair from my side and there were no problems afterwards between us. We are racers and we race hard, but I hope that it will never happen again.

So, with all this excitement in the closing laps, it was a huge relief to get across the line. The feelings were incredible, especially as we realised we had created a little bit of history by taking the first ever 1-2 in Formula E.

To stand on the podium together with Andre felt very satisfying. The team deserved this celebration.

I think what our result also shows, is that a private customer team with the right people, a desire to succeed and really hard work, can achieve so much.

The added bonuses of this result were that I leapfrogged Felix [Rosenqvist] and Sam [Bird] in to the lead of the title fight and the team also head the way in the teams’ standings.

Still we are only one third into the season and a lot can happen. From the moment I sprayed my Mumm champagne bottle on Andre, my focus was already 100 percent on the next race in Mexico.

We still have a lot of hard work ahead of us and we’re not taking anything for granted.

Merci
Jean-Éric

An ex-Formula 1 driver and Formula 3 Champion, Jean-Eric Vergne competes in the FIA Formula E Championship with the TECHEETAH Formula E team.

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