Tom Dillmann certainly made a positive impression in the FIA Formula E Championship when he made his race debut around the streets of Paris several weeks ago, picking up four vital constructors’ points for Venturi GP in what seemed to be a one-off outing for the young Frenchman in the all-electric championship.
Since racing around the streets of the French capital, it has been confirmed that Dillmann has now secured a full-time race seat with the Monaco-based Formula E team starting in Berlin this weekend. This fortuitous opportunity presented itself after Stephane Sarrazin, whose seat Dillmann will be filling, left the team to drive for Renault-powered Techeetah after the quick departure of their driver Esteban Gutierrez. This driver change means that Dillmann will pair with German driver Maro Engel for the rest of the 2016/17 season.
Although Paris may have been Dillmann’s first race in the electric series, now in its third season, it wasn’t the first time he had driven a Formula E car – that came in Mexico City. Having being called upon by Venturi ahead of round four of this season’s calendar, Dillmann was required to take part in Shakedown to prepare Sarrazin’s car whilst Stephane travelled from Toyota’s World Endurance Championship launch to Mexico.
“Starting [in Paris] I had everything to learn, I went step by step,” Dillmann states to katyfairman.com about his Formula E debut weekend around the streets of Paris in May.
“It is such a particular series, it is such a different car to anything. It makes it quite tricky to drive so I am very satisfied to take four points on my Formula E debut.”
Finishing eighth in Paris was a result that not even Dillmann expected. Although the unpredictability and madness from the final few laps of the ePrix was able to help Dillmann in climbing up the championship points, his performance around the street circuit was certainly impressive.
“There was no point in taking a lot of risk in Paris, to try and impress, and then maybe making a mistake,” he says. “The plan was to go step by step, to build up, I knew I could do it. I just needed to build myself up and in the end it showed it was a solid result and we took away four points.
“I think we got a bit lucky to gain a few positions, I guess in Formula E to finish is already quite an important part of the job.”
As well as Formula E, Dillmann has also displayed raw racing talent in other motorsport championships. He is a GP2 race winner, 2010 German Formula 3 Champion, with experience in the World Endurance Championship and most notably won the Formula V8 3.5 Championship last year.
After years of racing on race circuits, Dillmann expressed his enthusiasm for the return to street circuits, a key part of Formula E’s success in the cities.
“I love street circuits and I am kind of bored of these Formula 1 tracks.
“With the modern tracks you get a lot of run off and I think that makes it easier for the drivers and you lose a bit of that thrill. So when you come to a street track between the walls, and you make a mistake on the wall, it makes it much harder and I like that a lot more.”
As for his interest in the all-electric championship, that spark came about from season two onwards. Despite not catching much of season one of the series, which kick started in September 2014 around the busy streets of Beijing, Dillmann was soon addicted to the electrifying action.
“I didn’t watch the first season much, but I thought the racing was really good.
“There are really good drivers [in the championship], so there are really good battles. The championship itself is getting really big as well and the tracks are fun.”
It’s been known that Tom Dillmann was keen to secure a full-time race seat in the championship after his Formula V8 3.5 championship victory and his performances in shakedown in Mexico, in addition to his race weekend in Paris.
Although it was unknown that Gutierrez would depart the championship in such a short space of time, leaving to replace Sébastien Bourdais in the IndyCar championship after injury for Bourdais, this has left an opening for Dillmann to race with Venturi GP for the rest of the season.
“The goal was to get a full-time race seat since I attended the shakedown in Mexico. So step by step, I have been able to complete shakedown, then a full race weekend. The next step was always to sign for a season.”