SEBASTIEN BUEMI WILL RACE FOR ENVISION RACING IN 2023 ALONGSIDE NICK CASSIDY TO ADD VICTORIES AND PODIUMS TO HIS ILLUSTRIOUS CAREER
It’s official! One of the most successful Formula E drivers on the grid is now an Envision Racing driver.
Sébastien Buemi joins the team with a CV consisting of 13 E-Prix victories, 29 podium finishes and 14 pole positions and will help lead the Envision Racing team into the faster and more efficient Gen3 era of Formula E.
The Swiss racer joins Envision Racing not only as a Formula E galactico, but also one of the most versatile and adaptable racing drivers on the planet. As well as his achievements at the wheel of a Formula E car, Buemi has starred in numerous other racing categories with 55
Formula One starts between 2009 and 2011, and an incredible four outright wins at the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans.
We caught up with the 2015-16 Formula E champion ahead of the 2022–23 ABB FIA Formula E World Championship and talked about the challenge of Gen3, memorable Formula E moments, how to win a championship, the disappointment of losing one, and the
importance of spreading a sustainable message in motorsport.
You have been in the Formula E World Championship since the beginning. Going back to your first season, what are your standout memories of the sport’s first year?
I would say the first race in Beijing was impressive. I really didn’t know what to expect. When I got to China, and I saw what the race organisers had put together; the grandstand and the circuit – I was amazed.
Since then, we have been to some amazing locations, including Monaco, and I managed to win the race there in season one. That was amazing. Obviously, I lost the championship in that first year by one point, but I was still happy to finish second and it was good that the first year of Formula E was so entertaining and memorable.
Did you imagine Formula E would evolve and grow in the way that it has, attracting such a wealth of manufacturers and driving talent?
From the very start, I was obviously hoping that manufacturers would join. I’ve seen lots of other championships start off looking good in the early days, but not surviving and collapsing very quickly, and I knew that would be extremely difficult to establish this new form of racing. However, I’ve been extremely surprised by how many people in terms of teams and drivers joined and the level Formula E has reached now. So, to be honest, I was not expecting it become so popular so quickly. I was hoping for that, but I certainly did not expect it to be so good.
Early in the Formula E story you started a memorable rivalry with Lucas Di Grassi. Who are your main rivals these days?
It’s true that in the first season of Formula E, I ended up fighting on track with Lucas quite a lot. Obviously, time evolves, you fight and race against different drivers, such as Sam Bird and Jean-Éric Vergne, they were obviously there from the beginning as well, and they were
Sometimes, who you race against, it depends on the car. The regulation changes lately have made it a bit more difficult for me, but now it’s a new beginning with Gen3 and Envision Racing, so we will see who we have as rivals. I’m very much looking forward to seeing what
we can achieve, and I don’t really mind fighting anyone, but it would be nice to fight again with Vergne and Lucas.
Your first win in Formula E came in Uruguay in season one. What do you remember about that day?
It was an amazing day. Obviously, winning your first race is always special. I remember that was the third race in the championship, and I didn’t qualify so well, but then I had a good race, I was fast, and managed to bring it home first. It was a great location close to the sea,
near to the beach. I loved it. I miss Uruguay, I hope we’ll go back sometime in the future.
After a bad race or poor performance, how do you pick yourself up and get motivated to go again?
Obviously, it’s always tough when you don’t have a great performance because you put so much effort in and you feel like you don’t get rewarded. But this is part of motorsport, and I’ve experienced lots of good races and lots of bad ones. Whatever the result, I always look
forward. Sometimes if the race has been a bad one, I need a couple of days to pick myself up, but in general that comes quite naturally and quite quickly.
You won the title in season two, what were the key factors that took you to the championship?
I think in general, back then, you had to be fast and consistent back in those days. The qualifying format was different, so we had to start most of the time from the back when we were obviously leading the championship, so it was important to be consistent and get
through the weekend without any issues.
In season three, what was it like to lose the title despite winning six races? Did you enjoy that season which included three back-to-back wins?
Obviously, I started the season extremely well. I won lots of races and unfortunately, I had to miss the double-header race weekend in New York because of other commitments and it was hard to accept. It’s the only time a clash of races has happened, and obviously that
There were 12 races and I had to miss two, so by missing two, obviously, yeah, I ended up losing the championship and finished second. It was a tough one to swallow because I had the feeling we were by far the fastest that year.
You are well-known for combining and winning in multiple motor sport categories. How different is the challenge of Formula E from the World Endurance Championship. What are the different skills required in the car?
I would say that formula E is extremely competitive because some of the car is the same for everyone, so the team focuses on the powertrain. Because of that, the differences between the drivers and how it works out on track are quite small, so the important performance is coming from the details – you must look closely at every detail if you want to make the difference.
With most of the tracks we discover them properly when we arrive to race. Obviously, we go back to some of them, but city tracks can undergo a very big evolution throughout the day and are always very bumpy and the cars get close to the wall. This element in particular
makes Formula E different from other categories I race in, and yes, you have to be up to speed extremely quickly, and obviously every detail will make the performance better.
What are you most excited about regarding the Gen3 phase of the sport?
The step forward in Formula E and the new Gen3 era is clearly a very big step for everyone, and evolution in motorsport is vital. Everyone knows the numbers. It’s going to be a lot more powerful, we’re going to have four-wheel drive, better braking performance, a lighter car
which will be more agile in the corners.
As a driver, you always look forward to having more power and speed. I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to drive the Gen3 car once. I enjoyed it very much and I can’t wait to be back in the car, start testing properly and get going at the first race.
How did the deal with Envision Racing come about?
I have had a huge amount of respect for Envision Racing, and I believe they’ve done a great job over the years to always maximise results. They have always been one of my biggest competitors when I raced for different teams, so I’ve always had a lot of respect in general
for the team.
I had several calls with Sylvain Filippi – We discussed things, and I was surprised how quickly we managed to close the deal. So, I am really honoured to join the team, and I hope we will be able to have great success together. Obviously, I’ll give my very best!
What are your goals and expectations with the Envision Racing team this coming season?
Everyone starts from scratch with the Gen3 cars, and my objective is to fight at the front. I want to fight for the best result possible. It’s always very difficult to set expectations and goals until you get to drive the car, and we will soon see where we are in terms of
I cannot enter a race not wanting to win, you know, so my objective is always to win and hopefully will be in the position to do so. I’ll do the very best I can to reward the team. I can’t wait to start testing and see what we can achieve together.
Climate change is coming more into focus with climate related emergencies increasing in frequency. How important to you is the element of Formula E?
Sport is very crucial in getting people to be aware of climate change. I think everyone is certainly more aware of the issues relating to climate change, but maybe some people don’t really want to see it.
Formula E is a great platform to raise awareness, and it’s a great platform to develop electric cars on the road. We know electric cars are the future and we’re going to have more and more EV’s on the road, so we want to support the development of these cars and the technology, and help people understand that electric cars are incredibly fast and fun to drive.