23 Oct 18
While it's only been a few months since Frenchman Jean-Eric Vergne (DS Techeetah) was crowned champion in New York City, the 28-year-old driver is already weighing the potential threats for the 2018/19 ABB FIA Formula E Championship. The biggest of which - he claims - is himself.
"It's always nice to be back," said Vergne speaking at pre-season testing at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia, Spain.
"Nothing has changed in my mind since becoming Champion.
"It's a new season, the scoreboard is reset to zero and we have to do it all over again.
"Everybody is looking competitive. I expect this season to be very tough and tight. I think everyone is a threat but mainly myself."
Over the three days of testing, our champion set the second-best time of the three days, posting a 1:17.342s lap behind the wheel of his new Gen2 DS E-Tense FE 19.
"The biggest threat is myself. If I make a mistake, it doesn't matter what the others do - I won't score points.
"I need to focus on myself and do the best job possible. Then, depending on how good my car is, I should be in a good position."
With a total of four wins, six podiums and not a single retirement over the course of the 2017/18 season, the Frenchman clinched the championship title one race early in New York City, finishing up with 198 points to his name.
"My hope for the season is to stay very humble - the competition is very tough and we don't really know where we stand, so it's really to maximise our package race by race and improve it.
"We need to make no mistakes during the season and I think that's my target. To say I want to win or to come second is not something I can say."
Despite Vergne's current status, the fifth season of the championship sees a whole host of new talent coming into the series such as current DTM champion Gary Paffett (HWA Racelab), Formula One driver Stoffel Vandoorne (HWA Racelab), Pascal Wehrlein (Mahindra Racing), Felipe Massa (Venturi Formula E Team) and Alex Sims (BMW i Andretti Motorsport).
"It's good to see some new drivers. Before Formula One drivers were going to endurance racing or the DTM but now we've got the DTM champion here and some good Formula One drivers coming in too, which is very good."
Starting his Formula E career in 2014 after exiting Formula One team Toro Rosso, Vergne has risen to the challenge of Formula E. The championship title is his second after winning the British Formula 3 championship in 2010.
"When I arrived here, Formula E was not what it is today. Today, all teams are manufacturers apart from Virgin and HWA, so it makes sense for [Formula One] drivers to choose Formula E.
"All the drivers that I talk to, they'd love to join Formula E but it's becoming very tough now.
"It's going to be extremely competitive this season. I'm looking forward to the first race - it's a long break from July to December," says Vergne with a knowing smile.
A brand new season of Formula E kicks off in Ad Diriyah on December 15, 2018. Click here for tickets and more information.