Former F1 driver Stoffel Vandoorne believes Formula E has the strongest pool of talent compared to any series, specifically F1. In an exclusive interview with Sportskeeda during the season opener in Mexico, the defending champion explained the challenges in FE and the quality of its driver pool.
“I think it’s the strongest overall pool of talent that a series can have, here at Formula E. Even when you compare with Formula 1, there maybe people that always don’t belong there, they pay their way into the sport, and not necessarily have the CVs that many of the drivers here in Formula E have. I think it’s a much more dense grid of talent here in Formula E than in a lot of other championships.”
Taking a swipe at pay drivers and the merits of some drivers in F1, Stoffel Vandoorne believes Formula E comparatively has a stronger grid with extremely talented drivers. The former McLaren driver feels many drivers don’t belong in F1 and have paid for a seat whereas in FE, the drivers are selected on pure merit.
Stoffel Vandoorne believes it’s not easy to adjust from F1 to Formula E
Last year, former F1 driver Antonio Giovinazzi was unable to sustain his drive at Dragon Penske Racing in Formula E. The Italian has revealed that he found it difficult to transition between the two series. His replacement Stoffel Vandoorne reiterated the same, claiming that a move from F1 to FE is not easy.
The former Mercedes FE team driver believes that the many technicalities of the cars in FE, particularly the tires and braking, make it challenging. Vandoorne also hailed the pool of talent in the series and felt it is not easy to enter and perform against some of the best professional drivers in motorsport.
Asked about the intensity of the transition from F1 to FE, Vandoorne said:
“I mean this car is not like your conventional racing car. There are a lot of technicalities to it. We have the all-weather compound tires which is giving it a very different feeling, and especially the braking side is quite a challenge to get used to. Because everything happens more or less electric, let’s say now with the regen on the front axle. So it’s definitely a very challenging car and don’t underestimate the level of the drivers in this championship as well. Everyone here is a professional racing driver and they’ve all won multiple championships before coming here, so it’s not easy to come in and perform well immediately.”
Vandoorne made an impressive F1 debut in 2016 for McLaren with a points finish in his debut race in Bahrain, where he replaced an injured Fernando Alonso. The Belgian went on to replace the retiring Jenson Button in 2017 and raced with the team until the end of the 2018 season.
In 2019, he was replaced by Lando Norris and became a simulator driver and reserve for the Mercedes team. He debuted in FE with HW Racelab in the 2018-2019 season, a team that was rebadged as the Mercedes EQ team in 2020. Growing up with the same team, he earned Mercedes their first constructors' championship in the debut year, performing alongside his teammate Nyck de Vries. In the 2021-2022 season, he beat Mitch Evans by 33 points to clinch the drivers' title and earn Mercedes a championship in their final season in FE.