José María López
Three-time WTCC Champion, FIA Formula E & WEC driver
Three-time World Touring Car Champion José María López is the latest online driving instructor for SAFEisFAST.com.
After taking three consecutive drivers’ titles in WTCC from 2014-16, López signed for DS Virgin Racing for the 2016-17 Formula E season, and just last weekend took his first podium in the series, with second place in Paris.
Alongside this, the 34-year-old is also participating in his first full season of FIA World Endurance Championship in the #8 Toyota, and will later this year contest his first 24 Hours of Le Mans race with Toyota Gazoo Racing.
José María López answers your questions!
I know it’s your first year in Formula E but which is your favourite ePrix track besides Buenos Aires? Thanks champ! All the best for the season.
My favourite track so far is Paris, not only because I scored my first podium there, but also because I think Paris is one of the nicest cities in the world.
Dear Pechito: First of all, it is a pleasure to be in touch with you from Argentina. You are a great person and a great pilot. I want to ask you, why can’t Formula E race in conventional classic racetracks or in wider streets?
Hi Cristian, I think it is because the idea of the series is to run in city centres, and show electric cars on routes where we will most need electric road cars. Formula E is not only a sporting series – it’s also a way to show people that the future is already in our hands.
Hi, my little boy is just starting go karting. He turned 4 in March. Although he is young, he is showing reasonable control and confidence. I know this is a very broad question, but what would be the best way to develop his skills?
Hi! First of all karting is the way to go for sure. Kids can develop their racing skills and many other things very early on whilst running in karts. My dad used to put tyres on the circuit when I was a little kid to show me the racing lines.
José, greetings from your dear Argentina! I want to ask you, what motivates you before the race starts? Big hug, and I’m always with you, from a distance!
What motivates me before the start of the race is usually to listen to some music in a quiet place.
Fede de Pasión Deportiva-Traslasierra
In Cordoba, Argentina, there are many racers. What advice would you give to the young people who have just started? Greetings from Traslasierra!
I think that one of the things that I would say to young people is that first of all never give up. There will be always hard times in racing, but they will make you stronger. Also, just try to enjoy what you are doing as much as you can!
Hi Pechito, I would like to ask you if you can give some advice in how to approach braking and corner entry and exit in a FWD car with a manual gearbox? Gracias! Mucha suerte en Le Mans!
Front-wheel drive cars are always very technical, and have a particular way of driving them, like every racing car. The most important thing is to always try to brake as straight as you can, so that you don’t put too much load on the front axle. Then, for sure get on the throttle as soon as you can, as that will help you to rotate the car through the corner easier.
Hi Pechito, big fan! I love Formula E and I know you have to save as much energy as you can, but I was wondering, how different is it to the hybrid stuff in the LMP1 car you drive? Greetings from England!
The main difference is that in Formula E, we have to do everything by ourselves, while in the LMP1 cars, it is more automatic. Also, the hybrid car doesn’t have a big battery as we only use the boost out of the corners. In Formula E, we use the battery all the time, because it’s the only propulsion system we have.
What is the best thing that motorsport has ever given you?
Motorsport has given me pretty much everything in life, but most importantly, it taught me from a very early age responsibility, discipline and self control.
Hi Jóse María, my son has just turned 12 and absolutely loves racing, and his dream is to be a racer like you, but he has not yet started go-karting. He wants to know, is it too late to start? What is an ideal time to begin in karts?
It’s never too late to start if you really want something! So go for it!
I dream of racing for a living, but currently have to balance life, owning a home and having a full time job. How does someone get in contact with teams in series such as WTCC and WEC to get on the team as a driver?
Well, there is not only one route. To get into series like WTCC and WEC, you have to start from the smaller series, and build up some experience.
How tough is it to drive a Formula E car? Thanks!
It’s very difficult, as we have to manage a lot of things on our own, like manage the energy levels, and also the grip level is very low.
Are you looking forward to winning your first race in the category?
Sure, I am looking forward to winning my first race. I think with the DS Virgin team, we have worked very hard, and we have the potential to do it.
What is the most difficult thing about driving an electric car compared to an ordinary car?
The most difficult was to learn how to manage the energy in the races.
How well-adapted to Formula E do you feel today?
Right now I feel about 80% adapted to the category, but there are still some points on which I feel I could be a little better.
Hi José, I’ve seen that racing drivers use simulators a lot to get data and practice, but how good are video games for learning to be a good racing driver? I play a lot of Forza Motorsport 6 with wheel and pedals, do you think it can help me?
I think that today simulators are becoming more and more important in racing. Sure, it can teach you something – I have a simulator at home and I play a lot too!
Hi Pechito, I was wondering what the main differences are between driving in WTCC and Formula E as they are very different. Did it take you a while to get used to it? Good luck for the rest of the season.
There is almost nothing you can take from WTCC to Formula E. I felt that I had to start from scratch when I joined. It took me a while to get used to it, but now I am in a much better position to fight for podiums.
How much downforce does an FE car have? Does it matter as much as an F1 car? What would happen if you lost your front wing?
In Formula E downforce is not a big factor, and there is not comparison with Formula 1. Having more downforce in Formula E would mean we would have to spend more energy, and that is something we do not want. If you lose the front wing, sure we will lose front grip, but we could still drive and not lose too much time.
Hi Pechito do you have any desire to do Indy 500 like Fernando Alonso? Would you skip another race for it if you had to? Thanks Alberto
I’ve never really been looking to race in the Indy 500, but if I ever had the opportunity I would go for it. However, if I was in Formula 1 I wouldn’t miss a race to do it.
What’s your favourite racetrack in the whole world, and which car would you choose to do the ultimate lap on it?
My favourite racing track in the world is Nurburgring Nordschleife, and I would love to drive my Toyota LMP1 TS050 on that track!