Last week, it was announced that McLaren man Stoffel Vandoorne would be joining Formula E next season with the HWA outfit, Mercedes’ precursory entry into the electric series. Today, he said that he was ‘convinced straight away’ to join up the developing sport after losing his Formula One drive.
“I had my initial contact with Toto, which was before McLaren decided what they were going to do. Toto explained the project and as soon as I thought about it, there was no real hesitation”
Vandoorne was plagued by battery issues in the first day of testing which significantly reduced his running time in the car but on the second day of testing, he was able to utilise more time on track. ”We had a better day than yesterday.” The Belgian stated. “We had more laps this morning which was quite productive for me. The focus for us is to push through all the difficulties we’ve been having and learn from those.”
He admitted that the issues did not reveal themselves during the private testing that Venturi had been afforded to both himself and new teammate Gary Paffett.
“For us, it’s a new challenge, there’s a lot of processes we have to go through and from my side, I’ve also been combining this with Formula One. It’s like jumping from one ship to another for the past few months but the team is now focused on Formula E.”
In reference to the additional Venturi testing that he had received, he said that it put him in a much better position.
“You always want to do more testing and I would have liked for [this test] to have gone a lot smoother. But the two days I had before definitely helped to come here and have an idea of what everything feels like.”
When asked how Formula E compares to Formula One, the Belgian was very open that there was a difference and also spoke of his inexperience within the series.
“It’s very different to what I am used to, and compared to any other series, it’s quite different the way you drive the car and how the car handles. It’s all different challenges. I have no reference of the Gen 1 car but the car seems a big step forward in terms of the previous generation. You can set up the car in a number of ways and make a big difference with those. I had no expectations. I went into it very open minded and tried to maximise what we have.”
Vandoorne did not think that despite having a new Gen 2 to contend with and new regulations in the fifth season that he would have an advantage against those much more acquainted with the previous generation car.
“I don’t think there is a big difference. A lot of the drivers have been here a while working with their teams so they’ll have a bit of a head start. It’s not easy as a new driver to step in and perform straight away. From our team perspective, we need to manage our expectations and be competitive as I want to be successful.”
Speaking of his opinions of the sport before he joined, Vandoorne always had a open outlook on the series.
“It’s an up and coming series and I think if you look, they have only existed for four seasons. In that timespan, many manufacturers have joined and I think it shows that they see a future in this sport. It has huge potential and the electric development is still in such an early stage so I think that cars will keep progressing. There’s already been a huge step between the two generations of cars and I am sure they’ll be another step forward.”