He may be bullish on his chances of success, but Jacques Villeneuve isn't prepared to make any firm predictions on where he and his Venturi team stand in the Formula E pecking order, as he told Rene Fagnan.
When Jacques Villeneuve lines up on the starting grid to make his Formula E debut at Beijing this weekend, he’ll be by some distance the oldest driver present – but, somewhat paradoxically, at the same time among the least experienced.
Joining the Venturi squad for the second-season of the all-electric series, the ex-Formula 1 champion and Indy 500 winner isn’t planning on simply making up the numbers.
Speaking to Motorsport.com, the opinionated French-Canadian offered his thoughts on where his team stands after pre-season testing and which drivers he expects to be the ones to beat in the season ahead.
Now pre-season testing is over, where does Venturi stand?
“It’s almost impossible to make predictions, firstly because we didn’t use the same batteries during that test. Only half of the batteries were ready to deliver 170kW. We were still at 150kW for the race simulation.
“Secondly, the test was held on a track [Donington Park] that is not similar to typical Formula E circuits. We could work on the slow sections of the track, such as the hairpin and the chicane, and that’s what we did. We did not work on being fast in the quick corners of the circuit, so we were rarely running flat out each lap. That would have been pointless.”
Why was running flat out pointless?
“Donington is a relatively flat track made of fast corners and a long straight, not at all representative of the typical Formula E temporary street tracks that are quite slow, bumpy, narrow, twisty and surrounded by concrete walls.
“So there were cars that were really fast, but on that circuit specifically. So it’s very difficult to see where we stand for real. I think that at the end of the test, we were very good in terms of energy management. We did not try to set the ultimate lap time, so for me it’s a tough call.”
Who do you see as the championship favourites?
“I think the e.Dams and Abt drivers are very quick. I see these two teams to have the most efficient powertrain on the grid. However, we saw that also they ran into some reliability problems during the test.
“Nelson Piquet is the reigning series champion, so he is going to be a tough rival this season. He drove strongly last year, and was particularly good in terms of energy management.
“It’s up to the driver to manage the energy of his car while driving. It’s a very accurate measurement, and the driver has to work quite hard to manage the consumption of energy; it’s not something that’s done automatically.
"The team sees how well we’re doing, same for us behind the wheel. It’s quite simple to make the calculation.”
What do you think of a potential future Formula E race in Montreal?
“A Formula E race in Montreal would be fantastic. I don’t know where the plans are at the moment, but there’s always a very good atmosphere in Montreal and the people just love motorsport, so it would be incredible."