Audi driver and Le Mans 24 Hours winner Loic Duval faces a new challenge this weekend as he makes his debut in Formula E with Dragon Racing in Miami
How did the deal with Dragon Racing come about?
I was testing with Audi at Sebring last week when I received a text from one of Dragon Racing's managers on Tuesday morning. I'd already put my Super Formula commitments in Japan on hold for this year, so my schedule provides a bit more freedom to embrace fresh opportunities. I'm always up for a challenge and trying a new racing series can only be beneficial as it makes you a more rounded driver.
It's bound to be quite a unique experience since the fully electric technology is brand new to me. It would have been a real shame to miss out on such a great opportunity, so I'd like to extend my thanks to Audi for allowing me to race in Formula E.
What's your take on Formula E?
As the first fully electric racing series that sees single-seaters compete in the world's biggest city centres, Formula E does present an unusual set of challenges. But the whole concept is really interesting, as highlighted by the great media coverage and interest several manufacturers have already shown in such a young championship. After all, we're only in the series' maiden season.
The sport is striking a chord with people's current appetite for green technologies, which are now at the core of the automotive industry's concerns and project development. But it makes for a great show and I'm looking forward to experiencing it from the inside.
The format of a Formula E round is pretty unique with free practice, qualifying and the race all taking place on a single day at the heart of a city. In short, a lot different to what you're used to in WEC!
Street races haven't been my bread and butter for several years now, but I've always had a soft spot for those sorts of events, be it Pau, Monaco or Macau. I've always felt very comfortable racing on those circuits, which provide a unique challenge behind the wheel.
What's more, I think it's a great idea to have the sport reach out to the people living in big cities rather than the other way around. Normal circuits are usually located far away from busy places, so I really like the new concept.
Most of your rivals already have several Formula E races under their belts. So what's your goal this weekend?
I travelled to England on Monday (March 9) to spend some time in the simulator, acclimatise to the different systems and see what the Miami ePrix track looks like. In theory, it won't be easy to arrive mid-season and race such unusual cars against drivers who've already had some experience behind the wheel. Energy management is quite specific, as is the race format when you switch cars at the halfway mark.
I'll have to integrate all these new factors and find my feet as fast as possible. But we've already seen other Formula E rookies perform well on their series debuts. The key will be putting everything together, which is what I am obviously aiming for.
Granted, this remains a pretty unique championship but I'll try to bring something to the team based on my experience of driving a hybrid Audi LMP1 car. After all, energy management is also a key element of prototype racing nowadays, and endurance drivers involved in Formula E have been competing at the front.