Stoffel Vandoorne gears up for the remainder of the season and talks about his racing career. Storming to the top of the driver standings after picking up his first win of the season at the Monaco E-Prix, the Mercedes driver is now at the top of the Driver Standings after finishing ahead of Jean-Eric Vergne in second and Mitch Evans in third.
The Monaco race weekend was a successful one for the Mercedes-EQ Formula E Team, with Stoffel Vandoorne winning the race and Nyck de Vries securing further points and finishing in tenth place, giving the team a clear lead in the Team Championship with 120 points with Stoffel leading the Driver Standings.
Q. Winning in Monaco must have been something special—can you let us know more about your experience winning in Monaco as compared to the usual races?
Monaco races are special in any series, and in any category. I’ve raced here in the past for a couple of different series, such as the World Series by Renault GP2, and Formula 1 as well. I won in the GP2 in 2015, which was quite a special feeling as well.
Last weekend was my first win in Formula E, which was also my first one of this season, which makes it a very special one. I think this is definitely a race that everyone wants to have in their racing career, with all the hype around it as well as the circuit’s history. I was obviously extremely very happy and so was everyone in the team.
Q. What are your feelings on the upcoming race in Berlin?
Berlin is a home race for us, and I’m looking forward to being back on track.
Berlin historically has been quite good to us. It’s where I had my first victory in Formula E. It’s also a very particular one. Maybe it’s because of the way the track is over there with the concrete–it’s on an old airfield. The concrete is very abrasive and aggressive, which means we need to maneuver carefully, and get the car in at the right window to be able to perform there. Though we’ve had some good races, we have also had some races where we have struggled a little. It’s a challenging race but I’m looking forward to it. It’s a track that suits me as well, and hopefully we manage to get it right again.
Q. Are there any tracks suited more for Mercedes in the remainder of the season?
When you look at all the circuits that we have to race in, there are certain circuits where our performance has been stronger and yet other circuits where we have struggled. The championship is bit a different now with the different qualification format. It provides a little more opportunity to equalize the field and to play at the front. I don’t really know if there are any tracks in particular that suit us. It’s just the nature of the championship and the competition being so intense, that if you miss out by a tiny bit, it’s very easy to find yourself on the back foot. I believe it’s all about maximizing every weekend and gain an edge to fight at the forefront on any circuit.
Q. How important you think it is in the first half of the races to hold back and preserve that energy?
It’s always a difficult balance to make obviously because in an ideal situation, you don’t want to fight too much. But when you’re in the top position, you also don’t want to lose out on that position, requiring for you to strike a very delicate balance.
For example, in Rome when I was leading the race and competing with Robin, we ended up wasting energy and then Mitch came through with the energy. I think it’s just the nature of the championship right now, where it’s so competitive, and it’s more about being efficient initially.
Q. Since Mercedes is going to retire from Formula E, do you believe you will be part of the team’s future plans once the season is over?
There’s still nothing confirmed on the team’s side, but I think a lot of people know regarding what’s coming. From my side, I would say that there is a lot to analyse in terms of what the best and most competitive package will be, and there are quite a few opportunities out there. In the end, I have to decide what is going to be the best for my future and what is going to get me the most competitive package in order for me to be able to continue racing and winning the races, which is the most important thing for me.
Q. Are you thinking about winning the championship this season, or do you think it’s still too early to say?
It is still way too early, though we are almost halfway through. In Formula E, things can change very quickly and turn around quite drastically, so I’m not really focusing on being the championship lead at the moment and just taking it race by race, which is what I’ve been doing since the start of the year.
The key is to just be consistent, which will also enable me to score the points at every race. This is my main focus at the moment, and we’ll see where we end up later.
Q. I know a lot of people within the media would say that last year you drove well enough to be a world champion and it was only bad luck that prevented you from winning the title. Do you think last year you were good enough to be world champion and is that driving you this year?
Yes, I think so. Last year was obviously quite a random season in terms of interpreting what happened. There were definitely a couple of occasions where I had my share of bad luck and lost out on big points during the default group qualifying formats. One of them was in Valencia, where I qualified on pole but then was disqualified, and there was the other race in Rome where Lucas had a problem and both myself and Nyck were out of race. This also happened in Rome, where I was leading the race and then got taken out. If you look at the gap in the end, I didn’t really need that much to just to jump to the top of the tables.
This year, I want to leave no stone unturned as I just want to make sure that I do everything right from my side, and the things I have under my control.
Q. Will you be racing at Formula E next year? If yes, what team will you be with?
I want to be in Formula E next year, and that is my mindset for where I want to be in the future. Like I said before, there are a lot of changes happening within our own team at the moment, and the most important thing is to have a competitive package and a competitive car that will enable me to fight for victories and championships.