DIRIYAH E-PRIX: A WEEKEND OF POSITIVE POINTS AND LESSONS TO LEARN FOR DS AUTOMOBILES
In his 100th start, Jean-Éric Vergne scores his first points of the new ABB FIA Formula E World Championship season.
Rounds two and three of Season 9 of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia, presented DS Automobiles drivers Stoffel Vandoorne and Jean-Éric Vergne with another opportunity to showcase the performance of the DS E-TENSE FE23.
In Friday’s round two, Vergne, celebrating his 100th race start in the all-electric category, gained five positions en route to a well-deserved seventh place finish and scoring his first points of the 2023 season. Reigning world champion Vandoorne produced a similarly impressive charge from 17th, moving up six places but finished agonisingly just outside the points in 11th.
Although the latest generation of Formula E car – GEN3 – is in its maiden season this year, DS Automobiles and the rest of the DS PENSKE team understand that stronger qualifying performance remains the key to returning to the podium places.
The third race of this 2023 campaign, which took place in Diriyah (Saudi Arabia) did not result in DS Automobiles being able to add to its points tally in Season 9 of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship After Jean-Éric Vergne finished seventh on Friday, this time it was his team mate Stoffel Vandoorne who seemed set to make his mark after starting from eighth on the grid.
Unfortunately, a radio problem prevented the Belgian from applying his ideal strategy in a race that was once more extremely closely-fought. Lacking the information he needed to take the fight to his rivals, the Belgian was unable to make his way up the field. He crossed the finish line in 11th place but was penalised after the finish for not having activated ‘attack mode’ for a second time (as a result of the radio problem) which dropped him down to 20th in the final classification.
Jean-Éric Vergne could do no better than 16th in qualifying and so had a difficult race, especially following contact with his former team mate Antonio Félix Da Costa. Despite his best efforts, the only double champion in the history of Formula E ended up 16th at the finish.
While the results on paper bear little resemblance to the hopes the team harboured at the start of the year, the two Saudi Arabia races allowed the French premium manufacturer as well as the whole DS PENSKE team to take on board several useful lessons for the rest of the season. Within the offices and on the simulator back at base in Versailles, efforts are set to be redoubled. Following an intense start to the season, the clear goal will be to improve at the brand-new Hyderabad circuit in India, which will host the fourth race of Season 9. The ABB FIA Formula E championship resumes on 11 February.
Eugenio Franzetti, DS Performance director:
“It was a very educational weekend with some very positive things to retain and other more complicated experiences that nonetheless taught us a lot. The team is very motivated to make the most of all the lessons learned and we are now all fully concentrated on the next race in India!”
Jean-Éric Vergne, Formula E champion in 2018 and 2019:
“Today I just didn’t have the pace, neither in qualifying nor the race. We tried lots of things and we need to evolve the car in order to make progress. I’m very happy with the work the team has done all weekend and I think I drove well. However, we just weren’t fast enough, so I hope we can improve things in the near future.”
Stoffel Vandoorne, reigning Formula E champion:
“It was a complicated day. Nonetheless, we could have improved in qualifying because for the first time I was able to get through to the duels (which pit the top eight after qualifying against each other by group). This shows that we’re making progress, even though we’ve still got some work to do. I got underway from eighth on the grid and felt confident we could make up places, given the efficiency our car has shown since the start of the season. Unfortunately, I lost the steering wheel readout after four or five laps, and all radio communication with the team. So I didn’t have any information to manage my energy, and just to make things worse, I was penalised after the race for not having taken my second ‘attack mode’. You could say that luck isn’t on our side at the moment…”