It's fair to define Sébastien Buemi a FIA Formula E legend. The Swiss driver has been on the all-electric series grid since its inception, taking part in 104 races, he secured the 2015-2016 title and he currently holds the record for the highest number of wins and pole-positions, 13 and 15 respectively. The 2023 season marked a new chapter for Sébastien's career, as he joined Envision Racing, a partner of the OMP brand. The move proved quickly to be bang-on, as Buemi affirmed himself as a consistent point scorer and as polesitter in the first qualifying session in Saudi Arabia. Now the season is approaching the turning point, Sebastien is seventh in the drivers' standings, but with high ambitions for the second half of the championship. OMP interviewed the Envision Racing driver before the Berlin E-Prix weekend, getting also several interesting insights about the racewear and his Bell Racing helmet, another product of Racing Force Group.
Hi Seb, you're living a milestone FIA Formula E season, as you switched to Envision Racing: how is changing teams after eight championships?
"It's pretty challenging to be honest, because I spent eight years in the same team, with the same people, so it's like going out of your comfort zone. However, we had a positive start of the season, we are second in the teams' championship, despite I'm a bit disappointed as I lost the podium in India. We faced a demanding Valencia pre-season testing, as being a Jaguar customer team gave us less testing time compared to the manufacturers, but we have been quite competitive so far. I really feel we have a strong pace, in Cape Town I was last after being pushed out and I finished in P5, in Sao Paulo I came back from last to P10".
Envision Racing is one of the teams which made the biggest gains with the Gen3 ruleset. Was the ideal moment to join a different outfit?
"I feel really lucky to be in such a strong team and to drive such a fast car, because I have all the tools and the opportunities to fight for something big. Last year I experienced a tough season, my car was not competitive, but now I'm happy. I only hope we can now turn our speed into very strong results in the next few races. We have a great package, we just need some more luck".
You already clearly proved your speed potential with Envision Racing. What's the next target?
"The target is to win races, or to score podiums at least. We actually finished on the podium in India, but it was taken away because they penalized us for a small thing. It was our best race result of the year, so it's a shame we couldn't keep it. Aside from that, we scored points in every race and I think it's just a matter of time actually to celebrate something bigger".
Speaking again about changes, the new Gen3 cars brought a technical revolution to Formula E. What type of challenge are you facing as a driver?
"It's about understanding what makes the performance, where we need to concentrate, and how racing is evolving. We needed a couple of weekends but I think we have now a vision of what is necessary to be competitive. I feel like we are still making experience, gathering data, and we are starting to figure out what we need to focus on. It's all new to everyone, it's a learning process and we are trying to complete it quicker than the other guys!".
Joining Envision Racing, you are racing again with OMP racewear, as you did during your Formula 1 days with Toro Rosso. What are the racewear evolutions you have noticed since then?
"I didn't think about it until I joined the team, but it was nice to come back with OMP. I'm particularly appreciating the fireproof underwear, it fits my body well and I feel quite comfortable using it. It's a crucial product for a driver, because it can happen to feel hot and the underwear doesn't stretch. I'm also very satisfied with the suit: I have the straps on the boots to make sure it doesn't come up, and I requested a little pocket for the phone when I'm out of the car. I used two suits during the season so far and they didn't shrink. This is great, because some drivers have other brands' suits that shrink a lot, and they need a larger size to make them fit in the end. I'm really happy with the package so far, also with the boots, which are always a bit sensitive for the drivers".
You are also a longtime Bell Racing helmets user, across your different motorsport programs. What are the essential helmet characteristics you look for, jumping between Formula E, WEC and even Formula 1 testing?
"It depends on the category, because each one has different demands. When I race in the World Endurance Championship I need mostly comfort, because I keep the helmet on for a very long time, like four consecutive hours: it has to be comfy when I have the earplugs, as sometimes the helmet could compress the head too much giving some pain. When I drive the F1 cars, I'm looking for a helmet with good aerodynamic behavior, as I don't want the head moving for turbulence. I have some additional spoilers to prevent buffeting, and on this Bell Racing is very supportive in finding solutions if I have issues. In Formula E you race only in street circuits, so what you need is a good cooling, and a good tear-off system and the best visibility, to be able to go close to the walls".
Several drivers have parallel commitments between Formula E and WEC: does this help drivers to grow?
"I competed between different categories for many years, and racing in FIA Formula E and FIA WEC at the same time made me a better driver. For example, in Formula E I learned a lot about energy management, while in the FIA WEC I gained experience with a four-wheel drive car, which is useful in Formula E too now the cars have the front regen".
You saw first-hand the Formula E rise since its creation. How much has the championship grown from 2014?
"Technology evolved a lot during these years. We now race with a single car for the whole distance, with higher power, longer range, and a lot more speed. In general, for a driver it's always nice to be part of a journey from the beginning. We gained respect by the motorsport world, the fans and the other categories. We are looking forward to the future".