Stoffel Vandoorne prepares for the rest of the season and talks about his racing career. The Mercedes driver, who stormed to the top of the Drivers’ Championship after his first win of the season at the Monaco E-Prix, now sits at the top of the Drivers’ Championship after finishing ahead of Jean-Eric Vergne in second and Mitch Evans in third .
The race weekend in Monaco was successful for the Mercedes-EQ Formula E Team, Stoffel Vandoorne won the race and Nyck de Vries secured further points and finished tenth, giving the team a clear lead in the Team Championship with 120 points from Stoffel leads the driver standings.
Q. Victory in Monaco must have been special – can you tell us more about your experience of winning Monaco compared to the usual races?
Monaco races are special in every series and in every category. I’ve driven here for a few different series in the past, such as the World Series by Renault GP2 and also Formula 1. I won GP2 in 2015, so that was a very special feeling too.
Last weekend was my first win in Formula E, it was also my first of the season, which makes it very special. I think this is definitely a race that everyone wants to have in their racing career with all the hype around it and the history of the circuit. Of course I was very, very happy and so was everyone in the team.
Q. What are your thoughts on the upcoming race in Berlin?
Berlin is a home race for us and I’m looking forward to being back on track.
Historically, Berlin has been pretty good to us. That’s where I had my first victory in Formula E. It’s also a very special one. Maybe it’s the way that track is over there with the concrete – it’s on an old airfield. The concrete is very abrasive and aggressive, which means we have to maneuver carefully and get the car in the right window to be able to perform there. Although we had some good races, we also had some races where we struggled a bit. It’s a challenging race but I’m looking forward to it. It’s a track that suits me too and hopefully we can get it right again.
Q. Are there tracks better suited for Mercedes for the rest of the season?
If you look at all the circuits that we have to race on, there are certain circuits where we’ve performed better and there are others where we’ve struggled. The Championship is now slightly different with the different qualifier format. It offers a little more opportunity to level the field and play up front. I don’t really know if there are tracks that particularly suit us. It’s just the nature of championship and competition that it’s so intense that if you miss just a tiny bit it’s very easy to fall behind. I think it’s about getting the maximum out of every weekend and giving yourself an edge to fight at the front at every circuit.
Q. How important do you think it is to contain and conserve that energy in the first half of the races?
It’s obviously always difficult to find a balance because in an ideal situation you don’t want to fight too much. But when you’re in the top position, you don’t want to lose that position either, which requires 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 pulled through with the energy. I think it’s just the nature of the championship at the moment where it’s so competitive and it’s more about being efficient initially.
Q. With Mercedes retiring from Formula E, do you think you will be part of the team’s future plans once the season is over?
Nothing is confirmed by the team yet, but I think a lot of people know what’s coming. For my part I would say there is a lot to analyze as to what the best and most competitive package will be and there are quite a few options out there. In the end I have to decide what is the best for my future and what will get me the most competitive package so I can keep racing and winning the races which is the most important thing for me.
Q. Are you considering winning the championship this season or do you think it’s too early to say?
It’s still way too early, although we’re almost halfway there. In Formula E things can change very quickly and turn around quite drastically so right now my focus isn’t really on taking the championship lead and just taking it race by race, which is what I’ve been doing since the beginning of the year.
The most important thing is just to be consistent so that I can score points in every race. That’s my main focus for now, and we’ll see where we land later.
Q. I know a lot of people in the media would say that you rode well enough to be world champion last year and that it was just bad luck that prevented you from winning the title. Do you think last year you were good enough to become world champion and is that what drives you this year?
Yes I think so. Last year was obviously a pretty random season in terms of interpreting what happened. There were definitely a few occasions where I had my fair share of bad luck and lost key points during standard group qualifying formats. One of those was in Valencia where I qualified for pole but was then disqualified and the other race in Rome where Lucas had a problem and both I and Nyck were out of the race. That also happened in Rome, where I led the race and then retired. If you look at the deficit at the end, it didn’t take me that much to just jump to the top of the table.
This year I want to leave no stone unturned as I just want to make sure I’m doing everything right on my end and the things that are under my control.
Q. Will you be racing in Formula E next year? If so, which team will you be on?
I want to be in Formula E next year and that’s my take on where I want to be in the future. As I said, there are a lot of changes in our own team at the moment and the most important thing is to have a competitive package and a competitive car that I can fight for victories and championships with.