Jean-Eric Vergne's Rome E-Prix weekend saw the Frenchman extend his points-scoring run to five races in the 2021/22 ABB FIA Formula E World Championship - the only driver to tally in every round so far.
A race two podium to add to fourth in Round 4 sees him top of the pile leaving the Eternal City, and the double champion is demanding more to ensure he and the team continue their push in Monaco next time out, with his weekend in Italy not entirely free from frustration.
HIGHLIGHTS: The Rome E-Prix Round 5
“In Mexico City, Porsche were untouchable. This weekend, Jaguar were untouchable - I’ve had enough of being behind someone who is untouchable,” said Vergne.
"I'm happy with second - I think we did the best with what we could. Mitch (Evans) was just way too quick this weekend and I hope it's a flash in the pan for Jaguar otherwise it could be very difficult to beat them. It seemed impossible, at least today.
"Consistency is key to success and we've been pretty consistent in the early stages this season but we need more pace if we want the title - that's what ultimately counts. I will continue to push the team to improve the car because we all want to fight for wins. We want the fastest car and we'll work hard ahead of Monaco to be the best there."
With moments to go in the race, Vergne was hot on the heels of Evans going up the long uphill section and into Turn 7. There was one final chance to overtake before the finish line, Vergne contemplated an attack on Evans in a bid to retake the lead after starting from the front but decided the long game was his best bet.
“On the final lap, through Turn 7, it would have been suicidal to attack Mitch (Evans). Although I really wanted to win, the points in the championship are more important than the fame you get from a one-race win gained through a suicidal attack!”
Communication confusion and room to improve
Vergne fired to a marginal two-point lead on closest rival Robin Frijns (Envision Racing) in the Drivers' table and starting a race on Julius Baer Pole Position, winding up second, is something to celebrate - especially as JEV himself felt DS TECHEETAH would be the team to beat in the Eternal City ahead of the weekend.
The Frenchman headed out of Rome keen to iron out some confusion in race strategy amid another appearance for the Safety Car and time added on. It's evident a champion is always looking for more, especially with margins so tight in Formula E.
“In one corner, one engineer was telling me a strategy and in the other corner, someone was telling me there was one lap more to go, then one lap less – I was completely confused," he said after jumping out of the car. "I don’t want another race like this – it was confusing.
“I just had to follow the other guys in whatever they are doing – if they’re pushing flat out and I’m the only one lifting, then I don’t want to be overtaken, so I will just follow them.
“It really was a race that tested me. I lost my cool at some points – I had no idea what was going on in the strategy. I was a bit in the dark.
“Despite leading the championship, my campaign is the same as it started: scoring points at every race, maximising the opportunities that we have and trying to improve the car and to be faster in the race. We just need to keep our head down – the season is still long.”
Still as determined as ever to claim a third title, Vergne has his eyes set on the top and nothing else. Now heading to Monaco, a track that he won at in 2019, the Frenchman will be looking to extract a little more pace from his car to extend his advantage.
“In Monaco, we’ve always been strong, so I think we can try again and hopefully be the fastest this time around."