From getting disqualified in his first race because of not remembering to turn the race car off in parc ferme to a podium finish in just four races, Andre Lotterer’s first season in Formula E had more than its share of highs and lows.
A seasoned racer in his own right, having forged his career in sportscars and in Japan’s Super Formula Championship, Lotterer initially found Formula E challenging – both physically and mentally.
Then there was the relentless schedule.
“It’s pretty tiring,” Lotterer said of the one day race format during the opening round in Hong Kong back in December. “Two days in a row like that. It’s a full day. You go from one media thing to the other. I try to fit in some naps, but there’s not much time.
“It’s quite physical as well. All these hairpins and you got to cross your arms and hold the car – there’s no power steering. There’s not much G-Force but you’re actually fighting the car quite a lot and you’re never comfortable on the brakes and you’re always a bit tense. So it’s quite tiring.
“Fitness is not an issue at all. It’s more the mental aspect that is quite tiring.”
As the season chugged along, Lotterer soon found his footing and, after just four races, finished in second place at the Santiago ePrix and delivered the first 1-2 finish in Formula E history with his Techeetah FE teammate, Jean-Eric Vergne.
Fast forward to the New York ePrix season finale, Lotterer had racked up 7 top 10 finishes along the way and two podiums to his name.
“I’m pretty happy with my progression throughout the season,” said Lotterer after the New York double-header. “It’s been going up all the time. From Santiago on I got the confidence that I can do it well.
“In the beginning I was a bit skeptical – I was not doing so well in the first two races. I knew it was going to be difficult with just a limited amount of testing. I worked hard – did a lot of simulator and built my speed up each weekend.
“Obviously I had a lot of situations with penalties and rules and this and that where I lacked experience and got into situations at the wrong time. I couldn’t avoid those situations somehow. I improved. I learned a lot.
“What I like about my season is the speed – [in] qualifying and in the race as well. The progression was very very good.”
For Lotterer, having a seasoned teammate in Jean-Eric Vergne helped tremendously in adapting to Formula E’s rapid and steep learning curve.
“At the beginning of the season, I was struggling and didn’t have much track time. He [Vergne] saw it and he helped me a lot. I really appreciate that. That’s not really something any teammate would do. I will always be thankful for that.
“He knew that if I get up to speed and improve some things, then he can learn some things from me. I think that’s what we got from Santiago in the middle of the season.”
Techeetah FE team principal Mark Preston was impressed with Lotterer’s performance in his rookie season with the team.
“The proof is in the pudding,” said Preston. “He’s qualified now right with JEV. They both got disqualified [on Saturday] but they were with each other. We only had a very small amount of power over everyone else, and they still were quick.
“He’s matching JEV in just about everything. Still a few little problems with the jump start. He was going for the win! I think he just got a bit overexcited with the start because he was going for the win from the start.”
Lotterer has a multi-year contract in place with Techeetah FE, who has announced they will switch from Renault to DS Automobiles for Season 5. He will also continue racing in LMP1 with Rebellion Racing in the FIA World Endurance Championship.
Images: FIA Formula E
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