FORMULA E EXCLUSIVE: Interview with Avalanche Andretti’s American Driver Oliver Askew

Oliver Askew Formula E Exclusive Interview
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After success in the IndyCar series, Oliver Askew is taking on the mantle as the first American driver in Formula E since 2015.

In 2019, Askew dominated the Indy Lights series. That season he won seven races, seven poles and had 15 podiums (out of 18 races). His championship for Andretti Autosport launched him into the IndyCar Series for the next two years. Now he has joined Andretti’s Formula E team as he looks to make his mark in one of the most competitive racing series in the world. We spoke with Askew to get his thoughts on the switch to Formula E, the international travel, his partnership with Jake Dennis and much more.

LWOS: It was a wonderful start to your Formula E career. Points in the first E-Prix and then nearly climbing into the top ten again in the second round. How pleased were you to begin your season in the points and see your teammate on the podium?

Askew: It was a great start to my first season in Formula E. I’m a rookie so I went into the race with low expectations and just wanted to deliver the best I could for the team. The car is very different to an IndyCar, so I knew I had a lot of learning to do coming into the series. Jake has been a great teammate and it was great to see him on the top step in Saudi. Hopefully, we can both do that again this season!

LWOS: After that initial race, you commented about being able to make more contact in the Formula E cars than you might have first thought. How might that adjust the way you approach battles in this series?

Askew: The cars can definitely take a lot of hard hits and I think you have to take advantage of that. If you’re not moving people then you’re most likely the one getting moved. I’m learning a lot from the drivers around me though. There are some incredibly experienced drivers in the Formula E paddock, so it’s great to be racing alongside those drivers.

LWOS: You’ve switched from Indy cars to the Formula E Gen2 cars. How far along in the process do you believe you are at this point to understand the full dynamics of the car?

Askew: In motorsport, you’re always learning or trying to learn. That’s what put’s you ahead of the rest of the field, finding one-tenth here or there could be the difference between a top ten or a podium finish. The simulator has been important in my first season to get to know the tracks ahead of the race weekend and learning how to drive the Gen2 cars to the best of my ability.

I think I’m pretty far along now, the biggest hurdle will be trying to get up to speed quickly on these condensed weekends while learning new tracks.

LWOS: Energy Management. A big strategy shift from other series. How tough is it to switch your mindset to this new element of race strategy?

Askew: Moving to a new series there are always new elements and aspects to learn about. It’s easy to underestimate driving in this series; the energy management aspect is just one thing that I think makes this one of the most interesting and mentally tasking series to be a part of. There’s a lot to think about, not just the driving on track and we saw in Mexico how important energy management is, it’s the difference between you finishing the race in the top ten or not finishing at all. The team of engineers we have behind the scenes are put under equal pressure during the race.

LWOS: There’s a long break between the third and fourth E-Prix, how are you spending that extended time?

Askew: The break gives us time as a team to look back at the first set of races of the season; see where we can improve and make some changes. Saudi was great for us as a team, but Mexico was a weekend where we really struggled, so having time to understand what went right and what went wrong is valuable. I’ll also use the time to take a bit of a break ahead of a really busy few months.

LWOS: Looking ahead this season, which track are you most looking forward to visiting?

Askew: Formula E has a great set of tracks in some amazing cities this season. I’m most looking forward to New York, given it’s my home race and being the only American racing driver in the paddock. It will be a special one. I’m really looking forward to racing through the streets of Brooklyn!

LWOS: Formula E is a truly global championship series. What is the best and worst part of traveling around the world for you?

Askew: The best is seeing places and countries that you’ve never been to. We are fortunate to be able to travel around the world and it’s our job. The worst part is probably not being able to see or spend time with friends and family, but that’s when you can hopefully get them to the racetrack! I’ve learned to find the bright side of the long flights. I use it as time to switch off from the web.

LWOS: You seem to have quickly built a great friendship with your teammate Jake Dennis. How has that dynamic helped you adjust to Formula E?

Askew: I’ve had some great teammates throughout my racing career. Getting on with your teammate is crucial to getting the most out of the car. As much as we are competing against each other as drivers, we drive and compete for a team. It’s important to remember that. Jake has been great since I’ve come on board at Avalanche Andretti Formula E from a learning perspective, but we also have a lot of fun together!

LWOS: Given your travel and race weekend schedule, how much are you able to keep up with what happens in other racing series – Indy or Formula 1?

Askew: I try to keep up with other motorsport series as much as possible. I’ll actually be at most IndyCar races this year as I am now the reserve driver for the Andretti Autosport team. Formula E is my first priority, but it’s great to have this extra responsibility with Andretti and continue to work with the team on the IndyCar side. Though it is hard for me to be at a race, especially IndyCar and not be competing. I feel like I should be out there but I’m still grateful for the position and opportunities I have now.

LWOS: Miami is joining the F1 schedule this year. How special would it be for you to race in your home state if Formula E could visit the new track?

Askew: I’m really excited to see the first race in Miami with Formula 1 this year. I’d love to race on that track. Formula 1 and the team in Miami have done a stunning job designing it. I’m looking forward to seeing it all come together in May! I think Miami is more of a racing passionate city than people think.

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Thanks to Oliver Askew for taking the time to talk with Last Word on Sports.

Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images