AR1 Head to Head: Formula E finale

The inaugural Formula E season will conclude this weekend with a doubleheader in London's Battersea Park

Next weekend, the world’s first all-electric racing car series will crown its first season champion. Joining AutoRacing1 senior motorsports columnist Brian Carroccio to discuss the debut season of FIA Formula E and preview this weekend’s Visa London ePrix is Juncos Racing Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires driver Spencer Pigot.

You might remember Spencer and Brian did a mid-season review of Formula E after the Buenos Aires ePrix in February. Of course, in the meantime, the 21-year-old Orlando native has established himself as one of the contenders for the Indy Lights championship, winning four times. Last weekend Pigot put the #12 Mazda/ Doug Mockett & Company/Rising Star Racing/The Stutz/BAD/OMP Juncos Racing Mazda in victory lane twice, sweeping the doubleheader on the Streets of Toronto.

Currently, Pigot sits 11 points behind championship leader Jack Harvey. And he'll be back behind the wheel in two weeks when the Indy Lights Series visits The Milwaukee Mile for round 11 July 12th.

For today, Pigot brings a driver’s perspective to the season-finale of Formula E in this latest version of AR1 Head-to-Head, electric style. Enjoy.

Question Spencer Pigot Brian Carroccio
Last time we talked, we both agreed Buenos Aires had been the most exciting race. What was the best race in the meantime? There have been some good ones since then but I still have to stick with Buenos Aires. I still say Buenos Aires was the most-entertaining race. But Miami was best race since with Scott Speed charging through the field to second in his first start.
Formula E has produced some very interesting circuits and backdrops. Is there one you liked in particular? I liked Long Beach. My first time racing there was the week after Formula E so it was cool to watch them and go to the track so soon after, even though they ran a shorter version. The beaches make for a great backdrop! Long Beach is hard to argue with. I’ll just mention that seeing the Kremlin serve as a backdrop for a motor car race was quite something. So I’ll go with Moscow.
A race that you found perhaps disappointing? I wasn’t a fan of Berlin. I thought the track was a bit Mickey Mouse and didn’t provide great racing compared to some of the other circuits. I thought the layout at Monaco was rotten and it showed in the dull racing and pileup at the start.
Have you changed your mind on FanBoost or the whole switching cars thing, since February? I still don’t agree with the Fan Boost. I don’t think you should be awarded for winning a popularity contest. Also, I still think the car swapping is exciting. It’s very unique and adds some excitement to the pit stops. Fan Boost, no. A world-class sporting event should not be influenced by Twitter impressions As for swapping cars, funny; when I heard recently that the series was shooting for one-car races down the road, my reaction was "one car wouldn’t be Formula E." So, this one has grown on me a little.
Something that has impressed you about Formula E. I think they’ve done a great job getting exposure for themselves and creating excitement around the championship. Everyone seems to be talking about Formula E so they’ve done a really good job promoting and putting on their events. No disagreement. I’ll merely add that I like how the series has strictly adhered to its rule book. While some races have been penalty-ridden, the series has enforced its guidelines consistently.
Something Formula E needs to address in upcoming seasons Longer races would be nice. I know they’re battery dependent and they’re always trying to improve them. I wouldn’t suggest jumping into a third car but if they develop the batteries to last longer I would like to see them do more laps in the race. The ever changing driver-lineup. Yes, it’s nice to see Justin Wilson, Scott Speed, or Takuma Sato make cameo appearances. But a more regular lineup will give the championship greater credence.
Driver that has pleasantly surprised you in the second half of the season? Nelson Piquet has come on very strong. He’s picked up a few wins and shot to the top of the points standings. He had pace all year but everything has been coming together for him lately. Daniel Abt has come to life after a difficult start. He contended for the win at Miami and then podium at Long Beach where he won pole, but a power-penalty cost him.
A driver that has maybe disappointed you? I thought Nick Heidfeld would have been stronger. He was so quick at the first race but hasn’t been in the top 10 very often. Having said that, he was on the podium in Moscow so hopefully he can keep that up in London. Nico Prost hasn’t been the same since winning Miami. Also, I thought Sam Bird would be more of a regular contender after he dominated Putrajaya.
Ok, let’s shift the focus to next weekend’s Visa London ePrix. Who is a driver you think would be deserving of closing the season with a win in one of the two races? Jean-Eric Vergne or Daniel Abt. They’ve both been quick all season. Vergne for sure. He’s been lightning quick, just hasn’t had the breaks. He’s big-time due this weekend.
Four drivers have a mathematical chance at winning the championship (Piquet, di Grassi, Buemi, Prost). Who do you think has the most pressure on him going into the weekend? Piquet has a pretty big margin so it’s in his hands. Hopefully his bad luck at Toronto won’t follow him over there! Piquet. For a while it was di Grassi’s title to lose, but that has now shifted to Piquet.
This question is for Spencer. Last year at Sonoma, you won a championship on a double-header race weekend. What challenges, physical, mental and otherwise, does a double-header weekend present for the championship contenders? Well, a lot depends on how the first race goes. If nothing bad happens and you don’t lose many points, if any, it makes the second race much more comfortable. That didn’t happen to me, I was taken out of race one so it all came down to race two which isn’t what we wanted. Then there are a lot of challenges to get your head back in the right place and just focus on doing the job. These guys are all very experienced so I don’t think they will be getting too affected by the hype of the championship weekend. I’m sure Piquet will push hard to try and get it over with in race one. The only thing I’ll add is these teams have not had to deal with the pressure of coming back for a race the next day yet. So, that will be an intriguing storyline to follow.
Three drivers (Simona de Silvestro, Oliver Turvey, Sakon Yamamoto) make their Formula E debuts this weekend. Which one are you looking forward to seeing the most? As an IndyCar fan I’d like to see Simona do well with Andretti this weekend. Definitely Simona. Two street circuit races with Andretti and JEV as a teammate, sounds to me like a very good opportunity for her.
Drivers you see as possibly playing the role of spoiler and taking valuable points away from the contenders. Jean-Eric Vergne is due for a win or two in my opinion. He’s not in the title fight so he has nothing to lose. Don’t disagree with Vergne. I’ll mention Nick Heidfeld, who had some pretty miserable luck before finally breaking through for a podium finish in Moscow. With momentum and no pressure in London, Heidfeld could be a big-time spoiler.
In February, Brian picked di Grassi to win the championship, and Spencer picked Sebastien Buemi. Gentlemen, are you going to change your picks or have some conviction and stick to your guns? Well it seems like my pick is more of a long shot now but I’ll have to stick with him until the end! But I think we will see Piquet take it. No conviction here. Piquet is driving as well as anyone right now. I think that continues over the weekend.

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