© Frederic Le Floc'h

Fresh from racing along the picturesque Victoria Harbour in Hong Kong, POLLEN sat down with Belgium’s very own Formula E pilot Jerome D’Ambrosio to share his vision of the future-minded sport, bringing high-speed, adrenaline-fuelled action to city streets, from Les Invalides in Paris to Alexanderplatz in Berlin.

Having previously competed on the petrol-powered Formula 1 circuit, the Etterbeek-born pilot is currently enjoying a fresh perspective on racing in the third season of Formula E - a sport he insists is not just about results but about awareness of related issues of mobility and polution.

As with the majority of Formula E drivers, D’Ambrosio started his journey in karting before progressing up the single-seater ranks in Formula Renault, Formula Renault 3.5, Formula Masters and GP2. Joining the Renault F1 driver development programme in 2004 and was eventually promoted to official test driver in 2010. He made his Formula 1 debut a year later with Marussia before linking up with Lotus as a reserve driver the following season.

Having made the transition to the electric single-seater, Jerome joined Dragon Racing, founded in 2007 by Jay Penske and Stephen J. Luczo, in the inaugural season of the sport. “I’m now able to do what I love doing, which is racing cars, at the same time as I am involved with people that have a different vision for the future of the automotive industry” he explains, “giving me an entirely new perspective on mobility in general.” He’s seen the circuit grow season after season, from previously racing in Beijing and around the Red Square in Moscow to this year’s calendar which includes cities around the world from Marrakesh, Buenos Aires and Monaco to passing by Brussels in Spring next year, and even New York. “We’re the FIA championship with the most manufacturers of them all”, Jerome adds, “including well know brands like Audi, Renault and Jaguar, to Indian Mahindra and Mercedes committing for season 5”.

Faraday Future, a Chinese-backed, American start-up technology firm focused on the development of intelligent electric vehicles, recently partnered with Dragon Racing, with the vision of bringing their expertise to next year’s season, as the team seeks to innovate even further. 

With brand new elements to racing, such as the interactive Fan Boost, giving the 3 pilots with the most votes an extra power surge, “we’re technically gamifying the sport. It’s all about entertainment! ‘Racing’ against professional gamers in Las Vegas, early January, and also looking at how Virtual Reality can play a part, both teams and drivers aim to democratise something that used to be entirely track-based. 

It certainly seems they are onto something, as cities turn their focus towards ensuring a more human-centered society. Pressing issues such as mobility, sustainability and general polution (both sound and air) mean that the innovation, inspiration and underlying message that Formula E brings should be welcomed with open arms. 

Images © Manolo Media

SPORTTanguy Van Vlasselaer