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Interview: Jean-Paul Driot, e.dams
France|22 Apr 14
French-based e.dams team is a joint venture between two of the biggest names in motorsport - Jean-Paul Driot, founder of top single-seater team DAMS and four-time Formula One champion Alain Prost. With almost 25 years’ experience, Jean-Paul has led his outfit to numerous titles in F3000, A1GP, GP2 and Formula Renault 3.5. He sat down to discuss some of the hot topics for the upcoming Formula E season…
What originally attracted you to Formula E?
Our motivation to enter this championship is based on both our passion for motorsport and the necessity to develop a more sustainable and more environmentally friendly approach to our sport. Motor racing has to adapt to environmental changes, Formula E brings some very concrete solutions that we’re convinced will help develop a new way of racing, and also add to the development of innovative solutions for road cars. What attracted us to this new concept too is the fact that we will race in the centre of the most beautiful cities in the world, which means that it’s not necessarily the people who will have to come see racing but racing will come to them. Lastly, we do believe that the very entertaining way the event and racing will be scheduled by the Formula E organisers will help to attract not only the racing fans but also a new, younger and wider audience. We believe that we can create a new era in the motorsport industry.
From your perspective what are going to be some of the biggest challenges in the first season and how do you rate your chances?
It’s a real challenge for us and we have a very humble approach. Everyone in this championship will start almost from scratch; it’s a completely different way of racing and we have to cope with that. We first have to adapt to a new racing car with innovative technical solutions such as the electric powertrain. Also the new format of racing in which you have only one day with free practice and qualifying sessions in the morning and the race in the afternoon. Drivers, mechanics and engineers will have to master reliability and performance in a very short period of time. It’s going to be very tricky and everybody will have to act efficiently. There’ll be many new parameters we will have to understand and figure out but we can count on our experience and knowledge of motor racing as well as our very experienced and highly-skilled staff.
What has been the reaction to Formula E in France? Do you think a race at a street venue in France would be popular?
There were some discussions about a project in Paris. Unfortunately it came to nothing because it was close to election time and no candidate was keen on taking any decisions on such a matter. We hope that other projects will be put forward in the near future because we are convinced that it would attract a lot of people.
I know you haven’t yet got your hands on the Spark-Renault SRT_01E but what do you think of the car?
The car looks very promising. It’s already managed to do over 2,500km without major problems, which is already quite an achievement for such an innovative vehicle. The first car will be delivered in May and we are really looking forward to testing it and getting the first feedback from our drivers.
Would you like to see more teams from France competing?
The Formula E Championship is limited to only ten teams. We think that it’s good to have different national squads. We’re currently the French team and if it has to stay like this…even better!
Finally, do you have any news on potential drivers?
We are still in the process of talking to a number of drivers. We’re not focused on French racers in particular. We’re looking for fast, experienced guys with a good technical background in order to help the team understand the car. Taking into account the one day format, we believe that the feedback from the drivers will be a key element for success in this championship.
For more information on e.dams click here.