Formula E

Jean-Éric Vergne: DS Penske ‘need to understand the origin’ of qualifying issues

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Credit: Sam Bloxham courtesy of FIA Formula E

DS Penske‘s difficult start to the season continued at the Diriyah E-Prix double-header last weekend, as the team scored just six points across rounds two and three of the 2022/23 ABB FIA Formula E World Championship.

The season certainly hasn’t started how many were predicting it to, with the LA-based team having been the comfortable favourites heading into the Gen3 era. That’s certainly not what’s happened so far, with DS Penske having struggled now in Mexico City and in Diriyah, raising the question if they’ll even get close to the title fight?

Jean–Éric Vergne was the only DS Penske driver to score any points at the Riyadh Street Circuit, after finishing seventh in the first race of the weekend, whereas in Race Two he finished sixteenth. Qualifying was equally difficult for the Frenchman, who started the first race in thirteenth and the second in sixteenth, further suggesting that the team are really struggling to extract any real pace.

Speaking after the first race of the weekend, Vergne identified the team’s qualifying as an issue that needs to be fixed, given that he “can not do much” when starting towards the back.

“We had a clean race. I was able to gain positions and started to score points for this season. Race strategy was good but the real problem was that we did not have the pace in qualifying. We need to understand the origin of this issue and start from a better position on the grid. When starting from the back of the grid, we can not do much better.”

“We could have had a good race” – Stoffel Vandoorne

For reigning World Champion Stoffel Vandoorne it was an even more frustrating weekend, with the Belgian driver having been awarded a huge time penalty for not taking his Attack Modes in Race Two, as a result of the DS Penske driver losing his “dash information”.

Vandoorne’s title defence really hasn’t started well, with the Belgian having finished eleventh in Race One and then twentieth in Race Two, following his penalty. Prior to his penalty being awarded, Vandoorne actually crossed the line in tenth, meaning he lost a sole point. Qualifying was at least a positive for Vandoorne, with the reigning Champion having made it into the duels ahead of the second race of the weekend, which gave him the chance to fight amongst the points.

After the second race of the weekend, though, Vandoorne echoed the comments made by his team-mate, that the team simply have a “lot of work to do for qualifying”.

“Had a difficult race day, but some small improvements at least. First time we got into duels this season. But still a lot of work to do for qualifying. Started from P8 today, we could have had a good race based on the efficiency we have shown. Unfortunately, I lost the dash information and the communication with the team after lap 5 or 6. This compromised our race and resulted in us getting disqualified because I could not activate the attack mode.”

Credit: Simon Galloway courtesy of FIA Formula E
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