PORTLAND E-PRIX: A DIFFICULT RACE BUT A STRONG FIGHTBACK FOR THE DS AUTOMOBILES DRIVERS
The ABB FIA Formula E World Championship visited Portland International Raceway in the United States for the first time in its history last weekend.
On a track that is well-known for its Indycar races, the two DS Automobiles drivers put on a fantastic show to each make up nine places during the 12th round of the season. In doing so, Jean-Éric Vergne and Stoffel Vandoorne underlined how the French premium manufacturer and its partner PENSKE AUTOSPORT can instantly get to grips with brand-new circuits.
From the first free practice session, the DS PENSKE drivers placed their DS E-TENSE FE23 cars at the forefront of the action. JEV was an excellent second-fastest overall, while Stoffel was seventh. The Frenchman and the Belgian continued their run of form in qualifying, where they were classified sixth and 10th respectively.
These top 10 starts on the grid promised much for the E-Prix itself, but a penalty forced Vergne and Vandoorne to start from the pitlane. The reason was the unauthorised presence of a piece of team equipment in the pitlane, which was used only to identify the tyres. As a result, the penalty was in no way linked to the performance of the car or the power unit.
Starting from the back of field, in 21st and 22nd, the drivers nonetheless fought hard to the finish. Both staged a magnificent fightback throughout a race characterised by two Safety Car periods and plenty of overtaking – but their efforts unfortunately weren’t rewarded with points. Vergne was classified 12th at the flag, just ahead of Vandoorne.
Heading into the next round at Rome from July 15-16, the Frenchman remains fifth in the championship with his title hopes well and truly intact.
Eugenio Franzetti, DS Performance director:
“It was a difficult race for the team, with the final result being a long way from our potential. We were very quick during free practice, especially in 300 Kw mode, and in qualifying we saw JEV go through to the duels phase. Unfortunately, the team was penalised for having some equipment in the pitlane that was used to scan the codes on the tyres. Obviously this isn’t something that affects the powertrain and car performance, but the consequence was that we had to start from the pitlane in the race. Our drivers still fought all the way to the end though, each making up nine places. It was a great performance on a difficult day.”
Jean-Éric Vergne, 2018 and 2019 Formula E champion:
“At a certain point things were looking pretty good for me; I’d even managed to get up to fourth place. The problem was that I had to push really hard in order to get there. At one point I even had my wheels on the grass in the thick of the fight, and then I didn’t manage to regenerate my energy like the others as the radiators were full of grass. That cost me a lot towards the end of the race. It’s a shame as the car was great and I felt really confident. So we need to keep our heads held high and carry on giving it everything. The team worked really well this weekend.”
Stoffel Vandoorne, reigning Formula E champion:
“It was a difficult weekend and we were obviously disappointed to have to start from the pitlane. That was a pity, but we accept the decision. At the start of the race, we did everything we had to do and the car was working very well. But then we had to battle with energy management and we couldn’t really stay with the leaders. There just wasn’t enough left to go further. Now, with all the experience that we’ve gathered, I hope that we can finish the season strongly at the final two race meetings.”