Former Formula 1 driver Pedro de la Rosa made a significant contribution to Jean-Eric Vergne’s ABB FIA Formula E Championship-winning season, according to Techeetah team principal Mark Preston.
The acquisition of the Spaniard as sporting and technical advisor prior to April’s Rome E-Prix came about through the friendship between him, Preston and Techeetah commercial manager Keith Smout.
Preston says it was an appointment which further contributed to the team’s successful title challenge with Vergne.
“Pedro was a really good sounding board for the drivers and engineers and was a good extra resource,” Preston told e-racing365.
“He’s a great professional character to have around at any time. I have known him for a long, long while and he has super experience. I’d say he is one of the most experienced sim drivers in the world.
“Pedro helped to develop McLaren and Ferrari over the years, so when you are going to prepare for a race, where you maybe need to think about something technically specific, he is very valuable.”
As well as serving as a sounding board for the drivers on race weekends, de la Rosa was also used in the team’s Paris-based simulator.
“From a drivers’ point of view it’s always good to have a calming influence around the team, he was a big part of pulling us all together for the final races, he did a bunch of pit stop practice with us,” Preston explained.
“When JEV couldn’t get to the workshop, he was straight there, and that’s better than an engineer who’s pretending to be the driver during a session.
“I think he challenged the drivers too sometimes because when they arrived he went, ‘right I’ve beaten your time so get on it.’
“Because he knew how drivers think and behave he helped in all those other little areas for sure.”
Vergne/Lotterer Relationship Strengthened Team
Preston also believes that the friendship between Vergne and Andre Lotterer paid dividends in helping the team achieve its best-ever season, with the pair bringing their own brand of “positive energy”.
The drivers had only previously met as rivals in Lotterer’s one-off Formula 1 appearance at Spa in 2013, and as drivers in different classes of the FIA World Endurance Championship last year.
“Both JEV and Andre have competed at very high levels and, although they developed a genuinely close relationship, they probably also realized it was to some extent mutually beneficial not to fight each other,” said Preston.
“By his own admission, JEV can sometimes be a bit abrasive but he’s right when he says he has matured and got his head together.
“Now he can see that this change can bring success, we expect it to become even more refined and positive.”
Preston believes the basis of Techeetah maturing from a startup team to a title-contending force can be traced back to the 2016-17 season.
“We had a few things go wrong in Season Three and then [Stephane] Sarrazin came along for a few races and really helped us too, people forget,” he said.
“The fact that JEV finished on such a high in Season Three and we finally started to become a real team meant we didn’t have many self-doubts coming in to last season.
“JEV, in particular, used that positive energy well.
“I think that really showed from an early stage and of course the fact Andre only took a few races to get up to speed was a massive boost too.”