Wilson on his Formula E debut
Justin Wilson is one of Britain’s top single-seater racers. A winner in Champ Car and IndyCar, an ex-Formula 3000 champion and a veteran of 16 Formula 1 Grand Prix. He’s raced – and beaten – some of the best drivers in the world.
On Saturday he will make his Formula E debut in the Moscow ePrix, and he knows that he will have to be at the top of his game against the strength in depth of the drivers on the grid.
“You’re racing against some of the best guys in the world, you have to be on your game not to look like an idiot,” he admits. “If I can make it past the back row I’ll be happy. I just want to learn as fast as possible and do my thing.”
Wilson’s opportunity to take part in the world’s first all-electric racing series came as a result of a clashing commitment for Scott Speed.
“It all came about while I was at Indianapolis and Michael came to me and said would you like to drive the Formula E car in Russia. I had nothing else on right now – my deal was just for the two races in Indy for Andretti Autosport.
“I’d seen some of the races on TV and thought I’d love to give it a go. I think it’s an interesting formula, you have to believe it’s the future not just for racing but the auto industry.”
Having last raced at Indianapolis where cars top 230mph, Wilson will have to get used to the challenge of the Formula E car in just two free practice sessions.
“I’ve been on the simulator a couple of times, I visited the workshop and made a couple of seats but today was the first time I saw a car complete,” he said. “It’s actually very similar to IndyCar racing the same principles as far as the way you drive it. Obviously there are a couple of extra paddles in the cockpit but the philosophy is the same.”
At 6ft4, Wilson has long been among the tallest drivers in motorsport, something that makes Formula E’s unique car-swap pitstops even more of a challenge for him.
“It’s tight! You get comfortable in there and then you have to jump out. You do it in sportscar racing when you have a driver change, so in that respect I’m kinda used to it, but getting out and getting straight back in getting my shoulders under the headrest with the HANS device is not easy!”