Mercedes-EQ’s Stoffel Vandoorne says he is relishing the opportunity to return to a winning track in Rome ahead of this weekend’s double-header for Rounds 4 & 5 in the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship.
After being forced to race behind closed doors during the pandemic, the series welcomes back fans to the Circuito Cittadino dell'EUR for the first time in three years ahead of what is sure to be a hotly contested weekend at one of Formula E’s best street racing circuits.
With or without fans, Vandoorne has an exceptional record in Rome – the Belgian secured his first Formula E podium in the Eternal City during Season 5, before going on to win the second race of last season’s double-header.
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And speaking ahead of the race, Vandoorne insisted he was raring to get back on his ‘favourite’ circuit with his previous success there adding to his confidence.
“It has been a good circuit to me, and good circuit to the team, so let’s hope we can capitalise on that,” he said. “Obviously, it's not a guarantee, but I feel like we've put in a lot of good work, and we should be in a good position this weekend.
“It doesn't bring any extra pressure [winning previously in Rome]. I would say, if anything, it gives me a boost going into this weekend, because I know I've done well here in the past and I just got to try and repeat and do the same this weekend.
“For me, Rome is probably my favourite [race] of the season. I think it's one of the longest ones, it’s got a lot of corners, a lot of different tarmac changes, the fact that it's a proper street circuit where the traffic is still running at the moment makes it challenging and exciting with a lot of elevation as well.
“So, for me, it’s one of the best ones, and actually a very good one for racing as well. We see quite a few overtakes and I think that energy management is very well balanced around the circuit.”
It has been a season of varying success so far for Vandoorne, who currently sits fifth in the Drivers’ Championship, and his Mercedes-EQ team. A brilliant start in Riyadh, securing P1 and P2 finishes, was followed by an underwhelming performance in Mexico in Round 3.
But the 30-year-old remains confident in his team’s ability to bounce back this weekend and be challenging again at the top of the grid.
“I would say so far it's been a pretty good start,” he continued. “We had a very successful first round in Saudi with myself getting pole position and then finishing second in that race. Mexico was a pretty difficult weekend for us. We were lacking in general a little bit of pace compared to Porsche.
“But the season is still long and I'm confident that we have a very strong car, a very strong package and there's no reason to panic. And as we know, unfortunately, one weekend you're on top and the next weekend is a little bit harder. But that goes for everyone I would say.”
Formula E recently confirmed that the Gen3 car will be officially unveiled to the public at the Yacht Club de Monaco on April 28 ahead of the Monaco E-Prix on April 30.
The Gen3, which has been labelled the world’s most efficient racing car with 40% of the energy produced by regenerative braking, will debut in 2022/23 – the ninth season of the all-electric racing series.
Vandoorne, who has committed his future to Formula E ahead of the exciting Gen3 era, believes the launch of the car is a significant development for the championship.
“I definitely see my future in Formula E and, obviously with Gen3, I think it is something that is very exciting to be part of,” he said. “It will be nice to understand the regulations in terms of how everything is going to work from a racing perspective, but obviously it is also very exciting to try the car in a couple of months.
“Hopefully there will be 100 kilowatts more return on the front axle, and the car will be a lot lighter as well. These are all pretty ambitious targets but are very exciting to make the car go a lot quicker, and hopefully improve the racing as well.”
The ABB FIA Formula E World Championship’s most extensive calendar to date continues in Rome this Saturday, April 9 live on Eurosport 1 from 14:00 BST and on Sunday, April 10 from 15:00 BST on Eurosport 2.
Catch-up on all the information as the series builds up to the 2022 London E-Prix, which returns this year on 30 & 31 July: https://www.fiaformulae.com/en/championship/race-calendar/2021-2022/london
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