Vandoorne heads to Formula E

Dropped by McLaren, Stoffel Vandoorne is heading to Formula E where he will race for HWA Racelab the latest entry to the series.

The Belgian will join newly-crowned DTM champion Gary Paffett’s at HWA Racelab as the German team confirms its line-up for its debut season in the series.

“I am honoured that HWA have signed me for their Formula E programme,” said Vandoorne. “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.

“Also, it´s great to work alongside such an experienced driver as Gary Paffett,” he added. “I am pretty sure that we will benefit from each other during the season.”

With both drivers new to all-electric street racing, the team faces a steep learning curve, going up against seasoned teams and drivers such as reigning champions Audi Sport Abt Schaeffer and DS Techeetah’s Jean-Eric Vergne. Neither will be going down without a fight.

“Although we are all newbies to the series, I have no doubt that we will have a steep learning curve,” admitted Vandoorne. “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,” he added.

But what Vandoorne lacks in Formula E experience, the 26-year-old makes up for in racing prowess. After first entering single-seater racing in the F4 Eurocup in 2010, he progressed to GP2 within four years, winning the championship title in 2015 at his second attempt.

A year later, he stepped in as a replacement for the injured Fernando Alonso to make his F1 debut in the 2016 Bahrain Grand Prix, finishing in the points on his very first outing. For the past two seasons, the Belgian remained with McLaren.

“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,” said Ulrich Fritz, CEO of HWA AG. “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… we all have a lot to learn together.

“However, Gary and are Stoffel outstanding racing drivers who have a wealth of experience gained in Formula 1 and in the DTM… both know how to work in collaboration with the engineers to develop and fine-tune a new racing car.

“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.”

Vandoorne and Paffett will make their public debut on October 16, with HWA at pre-season testing at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia, before the Belgian heads off to Austin for the United States Grand Prix.