Interview with Sebastian Buemi at WEC Austin

austin buemi interview

Buemi Interview

A friend on the Toyota WEC team helped me book interviews with both Stéphane Sarrazin and Sebastian Buemi, who drive in the World Endurance Championship’s LMP1 program. Both guys also drive in the Formula E series between WEC races, so they are great subjects for E-Racing Magazine.

Originally published in the October issue of E-Racing Magazine. >>>

As a newlywed splitting his time between competing in three major race series, Sebastian Buemi appears to be a master of work-life balance. The 26-year-old has proven himself in the World Endurance Championship, winning the 2014 LMP1 World Champion trophy with co-driver Ant Davidson with their Toyota Gazoo car. Between WEC races, Buemi teams with Nico Prost in the new open-wheel series, Formula E – in which they lost the 2014-2015 title by just one point with their e.Dams team. His frequent flyer miles accrue year over year as a Red Bull racing reserve driver at all 20 Formula 1 Grands Prix. Add all of it up and that’s 39 race weekends to account for, plus testing, training, and travel time between each.

Buemi may be young, but that schedule is a tall order for us mere humans who haven’t yet figured out how to teleport ourselves. “It’s very difficult to balance the logistics and to be in the right place at the right time,” he admits. “Luckily, Toyota and Red Bull are at an understanding. Toyota is my first priority, then e.Dams, then Red Bull. Formula E and WEC have done a good job at making sure there is no clash, but it’s a lot of travelling.” So, he’s just like the rest of us after all – except maybe he handles jet lag better than most.

Another test of a good racer is the flexibility of handling three very different roles – maneuvering the hybrid system and large footprint of the Le Mans Prototype car, the experimental, fully-electric and open-wheel Formula E car, and many hours spent in the racing simulator for Red Bull’s Formula 1 squad. All of this must be done with restrictions, however. “When you do many types of racing, you stay in the rhythm of racing. Going in to Formula E, I had a lot of experience with hybrid systems, energy recovery. Sometimes if you want to do too much, you may end up doing bad everywhere. So far, I’m getting used to changing.” And his stats prove he has, with the last year resulting in 1st place in WEC and 2nd in Formula E.

Speaking of Formula E, his loss last season was so minimal, he could point out two instances that would have allowed e.Dams the win if they had not happened – an impact with a wall in Argentina and a flubbed pit stop in Russia – precious seconds that equaled a loss in standings.

It’s looking to be a more disappointing season for his time with Toyota, though, as he basically admitted that 2015 will be a wash while at the Circuit of the Americas race in September. “Since the start of the year we have been really down. We have been really off the pace. We always do the maximum with what we have, but the whole focus of the team is on 2016 with the new engine, new hybrid system. I’m not expecting us to challenge for the championship. When you are two seconds off, it starts to be impossible.” Not all is a total loss, though. “When we come back next year, hopefully we will have a very competitive car once again.”

And how about Buemi’s long-term plans? As in, where does he hope to be in five years from now? “I hope to be fighting for the championship in WEC and maybe Formula E. I hope to continue like I do and win as many races as possible.”

Given the nature of racing, and the variety of series he’s currently active in, we may see him on many more podiums over many more race weekends.

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