A promising debut for DS PENSKE as FE moves into Gen3 era
Mexico City, Mexico, 18th january - The FIA Formula E World Championship began its ninth season this weekend at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, Mexico City, and DS Performance’s eighth year in the championship.
The new season is especially important since it sees the introduction of the Gen3 or so-called third generation race car, designed specifically for city centre races and therefore more powerful, more efficient and some 50kg lighter than its predecessor. With its power increased to 350kW and an energy regeneration capacity of 600kW, obtained largely through the addition of a powertrain to the front axle, this new all-electric race car boasts revolutionary, state-of-the-art engineering that ensures almost 50% of the energy used during a race is recovered from braking. This year, the DS E-TENSE FE23s developed by DS Performance are driven by Stoffel Vandoorne, the Belgian defending world champion who joined the team during the off-season, and Jean-Eric Vergne, the category’s only two-time world champion and the backbone of the French squad for the last few seasons. The two men wasted no time in getting into their stride, producing solid performances in free practice that enabled them to feel positive about their chances ahead of qualifying and aim for places in the top five. Unfortunately, they were unable to turn their good form in free practice into a strong qualifying performance. Held up by traffic in particular, Vergne and Vandoorne had to settle for eleventh and fourteenth positions on the starting grid. In the race, both drivers showed great determination and spirit, Vandoorne managing to fight his way up to finish tenth and put his first points on the board. Vergne had also gained two positions when he was hit by a battery-related technical issue, meaning he ended up twelfth overall.
"Obviously, it wasn't a perfect start for us," analysed Stoffel Vandoorne afterwards. "Everyone in the team hoped to leave Mexico with more points in the bank. Nevertheless, a point is a point. And yet the weekend had started really well, with very good pace in free practice and both our cars finishing in the top five in both sessions. The feeling was very good in the car, but we struggled with the traffic in qualifying and just weren't able to find a good lap. We didn't manage to put it all together. I knew it wasn't going to be easy, starting from fourteenth on the grid. It was quite a hectic race, with a lot of incidents and several Safety Car periods. We learned a lot. It was very difficult to overtake, however, and I couldn't finish any higher than tenth." Comments that were echoed by his team-mate: "It's a frustrating way to finish, especially after giving it everything to try and get points that might make all the difference at the end of season. You have to look at the positives, however: our car is well designed and there are a lot of interesting things to learn this weekend. We have a very long season ahead of us. With a fast car and everything we have learned today, I'm sure that we will do better in the next few races." The FIA Formula E World Championship next heads to Saudi Arabia on 27-28 January for a double-header.
Reigning world champion Stoffel Vandoorne's tenth place secured his and the DS PENSKE team's first point.