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Vergne: Season Five Races Promote “Dirty Racing”

Jean-Eric Vergne’s scathing attack on the way Formula E races are run this season…

Photo: Formula E

Reigning Formula E champion Jean-Eric Vergne says there are major issues regarding how Season Five Formula E races are run.

A combination of the new set time format, amount of usable energy at drivers’ disposal and the often sinuous nature of the tracks has led to the Frenchman’s continued frustrations.

E-racing365 reported earlier this year that discussions had taken place regarding the potential of varying usable energy at individual races.

Circuits like Hong Kong, Paris and Monaco, which are shorter than most tracks, invite flat-out races where strategy and management of energy use is rendered obsolete because of the newly set timed races.

Combined with the new race format of Attack Zone activations and the likelihood of Full Course Yellow and safety car periods during Formula E races, races become flat-out sprints to the finishing line.

“It has to be understood that if you bring back this hard energy save race, you’re not going to have contacts anymore because the guy can overtake by using more energy which is what Formula E is about,” Vergne told e-racing365.

“The Gen 2 car is wide [and] the track, extremely narrow. How can you overtake?

“There’s no way to overtake so it brings dirty racing, people crashing into each other.

“Today it’s not about this, because you don’t save, so you stay flat out you brake on the inside so what can you do? You end up passing over the guy.”

Vergne, who had previously warned about increased contact in races this season, said that drivers were given little option but to risk incidents due to the nature of the flat-out races.

“There’s no tactical contact, there’s just contact in general,” explained Vergne.

“This is because the drivers are fed up because you spend ten laps behind the guy who’s one second slower than you and at some point, you’re not going to say that you’re a race car driver.

“You’re not going to stay behind the guy who’s super slow.”

Drivers “Not Listened To”

Vergne also believes that he and his fellow drivers are not considered or consulted about major sporting matters in the all-electric championship.

When asked why the drivers do not have any official association, Vergne said that a general atmosphere of isolation was the chief reason.

“Nobody listens to us,” he said. “We’re not welcomed because we’re not being listened to.

“I’ve been saying for six months that this kind of things will happen, because of the safety car, because of the new format. It’s a nice format.

“It’s nicely done but the racing becomes impossible. They really need to do something with it because it’s urgent now.”

Sam Smith is e-racing365's Formula E Editor. A 20-year veteran in motorsports media, including press officer roles in both the FIA Sportscar Championship and at Lola Group, Smith is a well-known face in the Formula E paddock, where he served as series editor for from 2014-17. Contact Sam



  1. Avatar


    March 13, 2019 at 2:23 pm

    I love formula E, but I absolutely hate the way they defend…

    It’s a bit rich JEV banging on about dirty racing while he barges through any other car in his way, not least the way he put Piquet out of the race in Mexico! Driving across the width of the track and braking early into a corner and putting another driver at risk of physical harm is “clean” racing?

    Agree with other stuff though.
    Tracks need to be wider now that cars are wider and more powerful.
    Penalties need to be consistent in their application.
    This isn’t NASCAR or BTCC; bumper cars are not required in any racing series but especially a series that enjoys “Formula” name status.

    Rant over…

    • Avatar

      Scott M

      March 14, 2019 at 3:26 am

      The attack zone gimmick wouldn’t be such an important part of a team’s strategy if the tracks were wider. The near-total lack of overtaking opportunities on London’s Battersea course made for a near-total lack of attention paid to the races by this observer. The change to a time-limited race will certainly have drivers take more chances when trying to pass.

    • Avatar

      Sam Smith

      March 18, 2019 at 4:40 am

      Not sure you’ll get many agreeing you on the Mexico incident but thanks for your opinion Footprint.

      However, the point on consistency on penalties would be shared by many.

      On track, the majority of FE tracks are limited of course because of true street racing nature. I think we have a decent variety and there are wider tracks like Marrakesh, Mexico, Rome and Berlin.


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