DS PENSKE continue to learn about its Gen3
Diriyah, Saudi Arabia, 30th January - The FIA Formula E World Championship's rather hectic calendar leaves scant room for respite for those taking part, meaning the series headed to Saudi Arabia this weekend for a double-header featuring rounds two and three of the new season.
Contested at night on Friday and Saturday, the weekend's two races marked the fifth appearance of the championship in Diriyah. It also presented DS PENSKE with the chance to showcase what it had learned from the opening meeting in Mexico. Once again, the DS E-TENSE FE23s of Jean-Eric Vergne, who was celebrating his 100th race in Formula E, and Stoffel Vandoorne, the reigning world champion, looked in good shape in free practice but were unable to confirm their strong form in qualifying. After lining up in twelfth and seventeenth places on the starting grid for Friday's race, the DS PENSKE drivers showcased the efficiency of their powertrain and their considerable talent, fighting back to finish seventh and eleventh respectively. On Saturday, the Franco-American squad confirmed its improving fortunes, posting a better performance in a tough qualifying session as Vandoorne finished eighth and Vergne placed sixteenth. However, once again the race proved to be a frustrating experience. A radio problem prevented Vandoorne from applying the best strategy and activating his second Attack Mode, resulting in him picking up a post-race penalty demoting him to twentieth position, whilst Vergne had to settle for sixteenth.
"It was a tough day today," confessed Stoffel Vandoorne, the defending world champion. "We nonetheless managed to improve in qualifying since, for the first time, I made it through to the duels. That shows that we are making progress, even if there is still work to do. I started eighth on the grid and, as our car has already shown its efficiency since the start of the year, I was confident that I could make up some positions in the race. Unfortunately, after four or five laps, I lost the display on my steering wheel and all radio communications with the team. I therefore had no information about energy management and, to top it all off, I was even handed a penalty for not using my second Attack Mode. It seems that luck has deserted us for the moment…" Eugenio Franzetti, Director of DS Performance, remained in combative mood: "It was a highly instructive weekend with some very positive points and some more challenging experiences, which will be good learning opportunities for us. The team is very motivated to learn the lessons and bounce back. We are already focused on the next race in India!" Indeed, the busy schedule means the championship returns to action on 11 February, with round four held at the brand-new Hyderabad track.
For his hundredth race in FE on Friday, Jean-Eric Vergne managed to open his account for the season, putting six points on the board. DS PENSKE scored the same tally during the weekend, meaning they are currently seventh in the Teams standings and clearly determined to get back among the frontrunners as soon as possible.