Interview

Misunderstanding with Vergne: 'It's a bit of a shame this is happening'

Misunderstanding with Vergne: 'It's a bit of a shame this is happening'

28-09-2023 16:43 Last update: 17:03
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Ludo van Denderen

For months there has been discontent among drivers in Formula E and the World Endurance Championship(WEC) over the racing calendars for 2024. A lot of drivers compete in both championships, but in May, they have to choose: either enter two E-Prixs in Berlin or the Six Hours of Spa. The call to reschedule the race(s) of one of the championships has fallen on deaf ears for now. Much to the irritation of Jean-Éric Vergne and Stoffel Vandoorne, who are themselves competing in both championships.

Vergne takes a hard look. The DS Penske driver in Formula E and also part of the Peugeot factory team in the WEC calls it an important question and apologises in advance for the forthcoming, extensive answer. Following the question from GPblog where the DS Penske men will make an appearance on the May weekend in question, the former Toro Rosso F1 driver starts by concluding that "I believe that half the grid in Formula E are doing WEC."

"I feel that over 52 weekends we have in the year, to have clashes is something that's quite sad. It's not good for either championships or the drivers. I think some drivers give priority to Formula E, and some other drivers give priority to Le Mans, WEC. So in that case, the race in Spa. I feel in my case, and Stoffel, we're on the same page. The priority is going to be to Formula E, so, therefore, DS Penske. Unfortunately, some other drivers will have to give priority to WEC," the Frenchman said.

Vergne appeals to WEC and Formula E

Vergne calls it "a bit of a shame" for colleagues who cannot participate in the two races in Berlin, as it significantly reduces their chances of being Formula E World Champion. "It doesn't look very good in terms of the championship. While missing a race in WEC is not that terrible in the sense that you're not being replaced. Your two other drivers will be able to do the race without you. Of course, it's not a 24-hour race. It's a six-hour race. Two drivers can do the six hours, but you need that driver in Formula E."

Nevertheless, Vergne said: "I hope that both WEC and Formula E can come to an agreement to never have this happen again. And that maybe the date can change, so there is no clash. I think we're all pushing in that direction. All the manufacturers in WEC, all the manufacturers in Formula E. In the situation where we are, there is not much a driver can do. Except politely ask everybody to make some changes."

Are the drivers being listened to?

The legitimate question, then is to what extent are the organisers of both championships listening to the drivers' complaints? "I can only ask," Vergne stated. "It's not like I'm complaining. At the end of the day, I'm an official Formula E driver. I'm very happy to take part in the championship, regardless of when or where we are racing. It's also a choice that the drivers make to do two championships."

"And the teams have to agree in understanding that there might be some clashes. Of course, we are all hoping for the goodwill of those organisers, both WEC and Formula E, and also with the help of the FIA, that we don't have this kind of problem. Maybe it's the only year that it's going to happen. Maybe some other year it will happen because there will be absolutely no other choice. And it's something that we have to live with. Complaining is a strong word, I think. Just asking to make what's right for everybody."

Stoffel Vandoorne, sitting next to Vergne, indicated he agrees with his words and will miss his home race in the WEC at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit as a result. Vandoorne will, however, be active for Alpine for the rest of the endurance season.