17 Jan 20

Vergne: 'Being the leader now doesn't mean anything'

After making Formula E history at the end of the 2018/19 season, Jean-Eric Vergne now finds himself hours before the race in Santiago sitting in the middle of the standings with only a handful of points to his name. Despite the slow start to the season, the reigning champ cooly claims an early lead doesn't mean anything. Can he come out on top after one of the most challenging rounds of the season and climb back up the standings or will his slow start prove toxic to his third championship title campaign?  

For DS Techeetah frontman and two time ABB FIA Formula E Champion Jean-Eric Vergne, sitting in smack bang in the middle of the standings is an uncomfortable experience. After clinching his second Championship title in New York City last July, the Frenchman cemented his place in motorsport history as the first back-to-back Formula E champ. But now, with hours to go until the third round of a new season, Vergne is far from the front runners. 

Sitting 12th in the driver standings, he finds himself with just four points after two eventful rounds in Saudi Arabia while BMW i Andretti Motorsport's Alexander Sims sits at the top with 35 points to his name. 

While the points difference is - in these early stages - not impossible to overcome, in a championship where consistency is everything, an early lead can be hugely beneficial. At the same time, slow starts have proven to be toxic to a championship title campaign. 

But Vergne remains cooly confident. "It's not a question of making it back up to the top right now. Being the leader now doesn't mean anything," he says sheltering in the shade as the scorching Santiago sun beats down on the new Parque O'Higgins circuit. 

"It will be important now to have a good weekend - that means no mistakes, no problems and doing a clean race," he adds. 

"I hope I can have a good Qualifying, stay in front and stay out of trouble." 

While his plan might sound simple, staying out of trouble in Santiago is easier said than done. Last season's race saw the highest number of retirements in Formula E - a total of eight. By the end of the race, there were 14 classified finishers, as cars and drivers succumbed to the extreme heat and challenging track conditions. 

With scorching summer temperatures and a new circuit layout, including what could be one of the fastest turns in Formula E history (Turn 9), Santiago looks set to be the toughest challenge of the season so far. 

Will the reigning champ's plans come to fruition or will he face the same fate as many drivers did last season? Join us to find out.