HWA Racelab‘s run of misfortune finally ended on Saturday in the 2019 Rome ePrix.
It all started when Stoffel Vandoorne made it into Super Pole once again, slotting his VFE-05 in fourth position on the grid. The Belgian later managed at the start of the race to get ahead of Jose Maria Lopez before the Argentine caused a red flag.
Vandoorne would keep his cool though from the safety car restart to bring home the Mercedes-affiliated car in third place to bag his and HWA’s first ever podium in the ABB FIA Formula E Championship.
The 27-year old’s points moves him to fourteenth in the drivers’ standings and was “delighted with today’s result” and said he could not have hoped for a better result.
“What a weekend! It was the first weekend when everything really came together,” Vandoorne commented.
“It is very pleasing to end the race in a podium position. That was the reward for all the hard work we have put in.
“I hope we have turned the corner now. It was not easy at the end: I had to look after the car and just made it to the finish. I am delighted with today’s result.
“Qualifying was good again, but we should be particularly proud of the race, as we had always struggled in that regard before today. I’d like to say thank you to the whole team!”
His team-mate Gary Paffett could not celebrate in the same way. The Brit started fifteenth and after running into the rear of Lopez Jean-Eric Vergne terminally damaged the drivetrain of Paffett’s HWA, forcing him out of the race.
The multiple DTM champion found his weekend tough to swallow after retiring through no fault of his own.
“That was very disappointing. Qualifying was tough. I did not really put together a good lap,” Paffett added.
“As a result, I had to start from the middle of the pack and was then involved in a collision. My gut feeling is that the car was good in the unsettled conditions.
“The pace seemed pretty good on the first couple of laps, I was able to overtake a few drivers, and I felt very good in the car. However, I was then caught up in the aftermath of another driver’s crash. López – I don’t know what he did there. He completely missed the apex in a corner and then went straight into the wall.
“When you are right behind a car that drives into the wall, there is nothing you can do. I hit him and Jev [Jean-Eric Vergne] hit me. The front of the car was damaged and that was the end of the race for me. It was a real shame!”
HWA remain ninth in the teams’ standings despite their best ever finish but they pull clear of NIO Formula E Team and GEOX Dragon Racing.
Team Principal Ulrich Fritz was delighted with the progress the team had made.
“Our first podium in Formula E! What a great day for the whole team,” Fritz said.
“He drove a great race and did not make any mistakes. That was really impressive. It is a shame that Gary was out of the race so early on, through no fault of his own. He too could have been on for a good result today.”