McLaren Formula 1 driver Stoffel Vandoorne has signed with the Mercedes-affiliated HWA squad for the forthcoming FIA Formula E campaign, partnering the new DTM Champion Gary Paffett in what looks like to be a strong driver line up.
Vandoorne lost his F1 seat to young McLaren driver Lando Norris earlier in the season and has since, been on the hunt for another drive in F1’s ‘merry go round.’ However, it soon became clear that there was a lack of options for the Belgian to maintain his position in F1 for another year.
Vandoorne said, “I am honoured that HWA have signed me for their Formula E programme. HWA are such a great team with a long and successful history in motorsport. All the people I’ve met so far are really passionate about racing.
Vandoorne also spoke of his excitement at working alongside Paffett, “Also, it’s great to work alongside such an experienced driver as Gary Paffett. I am pretty sure that we will benefit from each other during the season.”
This will be HWA’s first season in Formula E with two drivers who have never competed in the Championship, or indeed any like it. “Although we are all newbies to the series, I have no doubt that we will have a steep learning curve, said Vandoorne. “However, it won’t be easy. My objective is, therefore, to become competitive in the series as soon as possible and to make a good impression.”
HWA team principle Ulrich Fritz commented, “There is a lot happening in our team at the moment. After the official team presentation last week, we are today announcing the signing of Stoffel, which means we’ve slotted yet another piece into the puzzle that is our Formula E project. Stoffel has demonstrated his talent and his speed not only in Formula 1, but also in the 2015 GP2 which he won by a wide margin.”
Fritz also spoke of the two ‘rookies’ in his team but still thinks they are the right men for the job. “In Stoffel and Gary, we have two Formula E rookies on our team, which in any case is making its own debut in the electric series. That’s why we all have a lot to learn together. However, Gary and Stoffel are outstanding racing drivers who have a wealth of experience gained in Formula 1 and in the DTM. In addition, both know how to work in collaboration with the engineers to develop and fine-tune a new racing car.”
Fritz concluded, “These are precisely the sort of strengths that will count for a lot in our first Formula E campaign. It gives me confidence that we and our two drivers are well prepared for the challenges ahead.”
Pre-season testing for the 2018/19 Formula E season gets underway on Tuesday 16th October at Valencia, which Vandoorne will part-take in before travelling to the United States to compete in this weekend’s US Grand Prix for McLaren.
Round one of the Formula E season takes place in Ad Diriyah, Saudi Arabia on December 15th making it’s debut on the calendar.
By Jordan Hollands