Road to 1,000 points: Double champion Vergne looks back at his Formula E career so far

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Road to 1,000 points: Double champion Vergne looks back at his Formula E career so far

The two-time Formula E champion reflects on the biggest defining moments from his Formula E career to date.

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Jean-Eric Vergne (DS PENSKE) passed a very special milestone at the 2024 Hankook Mexico City E-Prix. The two-time champ became only the second driver to have achieved more than 1000 championship points during his Formula E career. Showing no sign of slowing down, Vergne spoke with championship presenter Saunders CB to reflect on the big accomplishment. 

The 33-year-old started his Formula E career in just the third race of the all-electric championship. Vergne certainly made an impact, claiming the Julius Baer Pole Position on debut, and showing the rest of the grid he meant business. Fast forward to Season 10, and he now has 117 race entries to his name, 11 wins, 34 podiums and 15 pole positions. 

“It's fair to say that from Season 3, everything started to be quite good for me,” Vergne explained. “Ever since then, I've been in the same team. We have had different owners with different names, but the key engineer in that team, the key person, has always been the same. As a result, you're able to build a very good trusting relationship together with the team and you're able to tell them whenever they're doing something wrong, or with me whenever I'm doing something wrong.

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“Of course, we have this trust in the relationship. All the history that we have together really helps us to stay on top and never be content with ourselves. We are a team that likes to win, and I hate losing much more than I like winning. I think it's probably the same as my team. It really drives us sometimes when things don't go right. It's very important to be able to regroup as a team to be able to bounce back,” Vergne continued. “I think we've done that a few times through the history of working together and we’ll keep doing it.”

Vergne spent his first season of Formula E with Andretti Autosport, with a best result of second in Long Beach, California. From there, he joined DS Virgin Racing in the second season before making the move to Techeetah in Season 3. It was here that he finally got his first win at the Montreal E-Prix.

vergne montreal win s3

“The one race where I felt that we were on the path for success was in Montreal,” Vergne responded when asked if there was a defining moment on his journey to being the Formula E legend that he is today. “It was our first win together as a team. My first one in Formula E, and of course it was completely overshadowed. I don't know how to say it, but no one really noticed it because Lucas di Grassi had won the championship. This is why after the podium, I didn't really feel the high you should feel when winning a race, because you had the championship win also being celebrated.

“But this was the moment where we realised that as a team that we could win a race. And, after winning a race the next step was winning a championship. So it was very clear to me, stepping down from that podium, we now had all the tools at our disposal to win the championship. I remember over the off-season, the mentality in our team shifted completely. It was clear that Season 4 was the year that we were going to fight for the championship.”

Vergne and Techeetah were true to their words, and Vergne became the fourth different Formula E Champion in the first four seasons. Four victories in Santiago, Punta del Este, a home win in Paris and the finale in New York City meant that JEV was able to be crowned the champ in the last era of GEN1. 

Vergne S10 Portrait 1

The following season, the ABB FIA Formula E Championship took on its biggest change yet, switching to the GEN2 machinery. As well as having more power, better batteries and so much more, the Techeetah team also underwent a huge powertrain move. Now branded as DS Techeetah, the Sino-French outfit swapped from Renault to DS power for the new generation. 

“It was an important change because in Season 3, the first thing that we did as a team was  understand that it was important to be affiliated with a manufacturer. We understood that if we wanted to be successful in GEN2 with all those manufacturers coming in, we needed to be a manufacturer team. So the first thing that we did was to go and speak to my old team, I mean the other half of my other old team, which was DS, and we made an agreement that from Season 5 we would become a DS factory team. 

“This association did not happen overnight. It was not something very easy and it took a bit of time for everybody to be able to work well together. But DS came with a fantastic culture and straightaway, we had the performance. We won the first year of GEN2 and the second year with Antonio Felix da Costa, and also the manufacturer championship - so it was good!”

As well as all the wins and championships, there have also been some challenging times for Vergne and the team. In Season 8, the Frenchman went winless in a season for the first time in five years, with Techeetah ultimately withdrawing from Formula E at the end of that season. DS stayed loyal to Vergne, and joined him at PENSKE for GEN3. 

He won again at the inaugural Hyderabad E-Prix, and stood on the podium three times over the course of the campaign. This season, Vergne has already pocketed a piece of stunning silverware as he finished second at Round 2 in Diriyah. 

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“Consistency” is what Vergne put his 1000 championship points down to. “When you are fighting for championships, and when you want to win championships, you put all the work and effort into it. Obviously, the points come together with the wins and the podiums, and so on, but it's never something I've really paid attention to. It's more, the championship that you can win that really matters to me and also to my team - it wouldn't have been possible, either without the help of them. 

“Motivation is the drive. We all have the same talent more or less, but motivation is what makes you work harder than the others. It's always easy to work very hard after a failure because nobody likes it, it makes you want to work harder so you don't have this horrible feeling of losing a race. But when you win, some drivers may lose a bit of motivation but it's not the case for me.”

Vergne S10 Portrait 2

Vergne became the second person to reach this milestone in Mexico City earlier this season, with ABT CUPRA’s Lucas di Grassi being the first. Will Vergne make it to 2000 points? Only time will tell. 

“I don't really think it's success or failure that keeps you going. It's really the hunger that you have, the will inside yourself that keeps you going. I have known drivers that stop after knowing too many failures, then some of the drivers that stopped after knowing success. So, I don't think it's the definition of what keeps you motivated.”