Paris pre-race round-up: JEV ‘not concerned’ ahead of home race and controversial Qualifying causes dispute

With the 2019 Paris E-Prix - the fourth in the history of the ABB FIA Formula E championship - approaching fast, we catch up with the teams and drivers to uncover the top three storylines to look out for in the battle for Les Invalides.

Controversial Qualifying divides drivers

"I think it's fair," insists Rome race winner and Panasonic Jaguar Racing driver Mitch Evans commenting on the controversial Qualifying format, ushered in ahead of the 2018/19 season. In contrast to last season, where the order the drivers went out in Qualifying was picked randomly through a lottery, the new format sees the top drivers in the standings Qualify first, while the lower ranked drivers go out last, reportedly benefiting from improved track conditions.

"It's never going to be perfect, says Evans." 

"We've got four groups and for sure we've got differences but I'm going to be in group one tomorrow so I'm not going to winge if I'm last." 

"You just can't let the guys who are last in the Championship go first, it's just going to put them to more of a disadvantage," adds the Kiwi driver. 

Firmly on the other side of the fence is reigning Champion and Qualifying format critic Jean-Eric Vergne. "As a driver, I find it completely unfair because we work hard and try to get into the best position to give yourself the best chance and you get penalised for being at the front of the Championship," says the Frenchman. 

"To me, I absolutely hate it but if I take a bigger perspective, I'm not against it. Even if I had to vote for it tomorrow, I wouldn't be against it. 

"At the end of the day, we're here because of the fans, because of the manufacturers and it's a good thing. It's hard for me and it's hard for us but I get it," admits the DS Techeetah driver. 

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Tune in to all the action from the 2019 Paris E-Prix on April 27

Home race heroes

"What pressure you talking about?" says reigning champion and DS Techeetah driver Jean-Eric Vergne with a wry smile ahead of the Paris race. "There is no negative pressure - it's all positive pressure - a lot of people are counting on us as a team to perform well here but it's important to stay in your bubble and focus on the job."

After the charismatic Frenchman clinched the win here in Paris last season in front of a home crowd, the pressure's on for JEV to pull off a repeat performance. This year, there's the added pressure of it being his manufacture's (DS) home race too.

"Obviously, if it's a bad race it's going to be very bad but if it's a good race it's going to be absolutely amazing but I'm not thinking about the outcome - I'm just thinking about the job we have to do and to leave tomorrow with no regrets." 

After celebrating his 29th birthday yesterday, Vergne's holding off on the celebrations. "It was a good day but I'm waiting for the big present tomorrow - that's the one that matters," he says laughing. 

Paris race city icon

Tune in to all the action from the 2019 Paris E-Prix on April 27

It's only getting tougher at the top

"It's good to be at the top - I'd rather be here than at the back but it's too early to just focus on one position...it's just important to keep scoring points," says Championship leader and Mahindra Racing driver Jerome d'Ambrosio. 

"With the way things are so far [with seven different winners in seven races] there's going to be a bunch of drivers fighting for the championship...Formula E is really pushing the boundaries in terms of keeping the Championship entertaining and it's working! It's working really well."

With a record seven different winners from seven different teams in seven races, the Formula E streak could be set to continue here in Paris. Looking at the standings, just three points separate the top three drivers with only 21 points separating the top ten. If the second half of the season is anything like the first, then the 2018/19 season of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship will prove to be one of the closest-fought and most unpredictable seasons in motorsport history. Buckle up, the battle for the title is only just beginning. 

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