Sarah Merritt caught up with Mahindra Racing driver Nick Heidfeld after the Formula E race in Paris, where he was happy to have won the Visa Fastest Lap trophy, and chatted about how people are converted to the series when they actually come to “see the show”.
Can I just ask you to sum up how the race went today for you?
The biggest problem was that I made a mistake in qualifying and I had to start last, then it was even more difficult than we expected with overtaking on this circuit.
I liked the circuit a lot, I think it was great fun to drive, and I love the location – it’s amazing and the best one that we have seen, which is not an easy thing to say in Formula E as we go to great places all the time!
I managed to go forward to P12 by trying to gain positions by staying out longer in the first stint as we had managed to save energy, and that was decent. Maybe I could have been a little further forward if I had taken a lot of risks, but then I might have ended up in the wall, so it was sensible.
There’s a smile on my face, and also the guys from the team, as we got the quickest lap today. It was the first one for me and the first one for Mahindra.
Where is your trophy, you don’t have it here?
Ah, I didn’t want to bring it here, I didn’t win the race so I didn’t want to go around showing off!
It’s really nice, and especially for me as Paris has something special about it, so I have something to take home to remember it by.
To sway away from the race, I know you and Bruno, and lots of the other drivers, jump between different motorsport disciplines, so I wanted to ask you, how difficult is it jumping in and out of the different cars? When you come back to Formula E again, do you have to reset your brain to get back into the swing of it?
I don’t find it difficult, but it’s not easy for me to be very objective or precise about it because I did it in the past as well.
It might well be that you would be a little quicker on the pace if you only focussed on one, but to feel that is difficult. When I jump from car to the other, I don’t think it costs anything, but I’m not convinced that’s true!
Lastly, before I travelled to the race, a lot of my friends who are Formula 1 fans made some disparaging comments about Formula E, and I think that although there’s lots of us that like the series, I still find so many people who don’t even give it a chance. How would you encourage those people to come and see a race and give it more of a chance before dismissing it?
It’s their decision, but I like that they are honest and say that in a way, because I’ve spoken to many people who have the same thoughts, especially hard core F1 fans and hard core F1 journalists! I’ve seen a lot of them over the last year, and some were invited here to Paris as well, and they have all changed their minds!
For sure, the cars are not as quick as F1, and live, I would say they look even slower than on TV, but the show – the race – is amazing, and I’ve not yet had anyone telling me that they didn’t like it once they’d seen it like. Maybe they didn’t have the balls to tell me, but actually I think they all enjoyed it!