One of the places where you will see pure racing…
Sarah Merritt caught up with DS Virgin Racing Team Principal, Alex Tai, after the Formula E race in Paris, where his drivers finished 2nd and 6th.
I chatted to Sam Bird yesterday, and he thought that this circuit might not lend itself to the strengths of the team, but you had good positions in practice and quali, and have ended up with Jean-Eric Vergne on the podium here. How do you think this bodes for the rest of the season?
We’ve been showing our strength ever since Buenos Aires, and in fact, as far back as Punta del Este, where the team and our partners, DS Performance, have been working tirelessly to increase our resilience, our knowledge of the particular set-ups that we need to make this car go fast, and how to make the dynamics of the car suit the drivers and the tracks that we have.
That’s proved itself out in to a win in Buenos Aires, we’ve had three poles now – including the pole here – so we know that we can be quick over one lap, and we know that both of our drivers can be very quick, which gave us our starting position of 1st and 3rd today, which is almost as good as you can get, just one place off.
We’re still giving away a bit of race pace to both the Audi and the Renault cars, and in the race we have to find ourselves defening if we are in front. We’ve seen that in Buenos Aires, and it worked on that occasion – on this occasion it didn’t work for Sam, but did for Jean-Eric.
For the first time, we’ve had both drivers in contending position, and we had to look at the sometimes difficult situation where drivers are battling one another inside the team. But look, we’ve finished in front of Renault in Paris, on the podium, so I’ll bank that.
Alex, you seem to be someone with many strings to your bow, and I know you’re a pilot. Is it true that you are planning to pilot the first passenger flight into space?
Yes, I was Chief Operating Officer for Virgin Galactic, and I worked on it through the inception stage, and have 11 world records in Aviation, so I aim to be flying the spaceship too. I love aviation and I continue to fly, so I still fly a 747-400. I came back from Las Vegas last week with 450 passengers on board!
What would you say to fans of motorsport who still haven’t bought into the Formula E series yet?
I’d ask them to watch a race, and watch a day, and see what they think then. We have, I believe, some of the most precocious talent in motor racing on the grid in Formula E, and as it’s a fixed power championship, the final arbitrator of the winner of these races is driver skill; that’s a wonderful thing to see.
Unfortunately, that’s not evident in some other series, where technology dominates, so this is one of the places that you will see pure racing.