Defending ABB Formula E champion Jean-Eric Vergne is confident he can pick up where he left off in Marrakesh and even challenge for a title treble should racing resume in June.
Vergne, who triumphed in both Seasons 4 and 5, stormed through the field to a brilliant podium last time out in Morocco despite suffering from illness and sitting put free practice in hospital. But the Frenchman is mindful that with races in Paris, Seoul and Jakarta already postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic and the season now suspended until at least June, he remains 36 points behind in-form teammate and series leader Antonio Felix Da Costa with time, and possibly races, running out.
“Antonio had a very clean start to the season, which I didn’t,” Vergne told Motorsport Technology. “I had a few issues at the start of the season. I could have won in Santiago but the front wing broke, I had a software problem in Mexico, so I’ve had a lot of issues. But it’s normal during a season to have up and downs and every driver has ups and downs. So I don’t expect Da Costa to be on the podium every race and I expect my form to go back to where it should be, and I think my luck will turn. But we cannot have any plans because we don’t know how or when it’s going to end.”
Should the worst come to pass, and racing won’t resume with the Gen2 Formula E cars until Season 7 in 2020/21, it will be a huge blow to fans, sponsors, teams and drivers alike, and just as the season was really hotting up after the brilliant battle in Marrakesh. For Vergne, it was hotting up in more ways than one, as he had a fever of 39 degrees when the lights went out.
“I don’t really know what it was,” recalls Vergne. “I had absolutely all the symptoms of this virus. I had a fever of 39 degrees before the start of the race and I passed out at the end of the race! It was probably one of my greatest efforts in terms of starting so far back and missing free practice 1.
“So, to get a podium starting so far back on the grid whilst being unwell, I was definitely very happy with my race. Maybe if I wasn’t sick, I could have handled the race a little better and saved a bit more energy, but I ran out of energy at the end because I was attacking very hard during the whole race. Starting the last lap, I knew it would be hard to finish second, but I had to try!”
After battling bad flu and missing all of yesterday, I can happily say this was the strongest race of my life! A podium was unimaginable this morning, so I couldn’t be happier!
Massive thanks @DSTECHEETAH for my amazing car and big congrats to @afelixdacosta for his win ! pic.twitter.com/oMNxmWyrfV
— Jean-Eric Vergne (@JeanEricVergne) February 29, 2020
Vergne also revealed that he was tested for coronavirus in the hospital and because the results fortunately came back negative, it was most likely a dose of the flu.
“It was actually quite emotional to stand on the podium after a week of suffering and being contained in the hospital and watching FP1 on my phone, because they would not let me out of the hospital until they got the results, whether I had the virus or not. So, I was tested, and it turned out to be a negative, so therefore I could participate in the race. But apparently, I didn’t have it so it was just a very bad flu.”
With encouraging stories emerging of how motorsport teams and partners are helping out in the battle against coronavirus, Vergne also praised the work of DS TECHEETAH team partner Acronis, helping to keep the team and staff protected from another kind of threat during this difficult time.
“It’s great to have a partner like this, especially when you need to stay home and stay safe. It’s a strong message to be pushing in general but also when it comes to staying secure and protecting data when working remotely.
“We have a very clear strategy to be safe in the whole eco-system, from DS TECHEETAH to the whole PSA group. We are all pushing the various #StayAtHome hashtags and, together with Acronis, we are also encouraging people to stay #CyberFit, as people aren’t used to having to think about cyber security from home usually.”
Our partner @Acronis is hosting a live event tomorrow at 14:00 CET on how to stay #CyberFit during the COVID-19 pandemic. Tune in to learn from the experts on how to stay safe both physically and digitally.
Register here: https://t.co/bJWvqs7jd5 pic.twitter.com/m6gOTwBGHL
— DS TECHEETAH (@DSTECHEETAH) April 14, 2020