DS Penske confirmed on Thursday morning that season eight World Champion Stoffel Vandoorne and two-time Formula E World Champion Jean-Éric Vergne had been retained for the 2023/24 campaign, which gets underway in Mexico City early next year.
It’s been the silliest of silly seasons ahead of Formula E’s centurion campaign, with DS Penske remarkably being just one of three teams to have retained their driver pairing from last season. NIO 333 Racing and TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team are the other two teams unchanged for season 10.
The side entered season nine arguably with the strongest driver pairing for the first year of the Gen3 era, with both Vergne and Vandoorne having also impressed during pre-season testing. However, once the racing got underway, strong performances and podium finishes were a rarity.
Vergne was the only DS Penske driver to claim a rostrum in 2023, something he achieved three times. One of his three podiums did come in the form of victory in Hyderabad, where he put on an emphatic defensive display against eventual Vice Champion Nick Cassidy.
Above: Vergne’s victory in Hyderabad was the team’s only triumph in S9 – Credit: LAT Images courtesy of FIA Formula E
The experienced Frenchman was comfortably the better performing DS Penske driver, and ended season nine in a very respectable P5 in the Drivers’ Championship. Vergne’s performances were largely responsible for the team claiming fifth in the Constructors’ Championship as well.
DS Penske ideally need to improve their one-lap pace and their efficiency, both of which were either solid or disappointing, with consistency having been their real downfall.
Vergne is determined to return to winning ways more often next season, with it being a “very special feeling” he wants to “live again” with DS Penske.
“I’m very happy to continue the adventure with DS PENSKE,” said Vergne. “As one chapter closes, we have to focus on what is ahead. I love racing, and above all, I love winning. It’s a very special feeling that I want to live again with the team.
“I have a real relationship of trust with the engineers and the mechanics, their dedication and hard work is truly inspiring. I want to reward the belief that Jay Penske and the rest of the team placed in me. At a start of a season, all the points start back to zero.
“With Stoffel, we form a solid duo. We had a couple of good races and we are working extremely hard to come back to the top.We just got to try and do better, we will not stop until we do. My absolute focus and determination are at the highest, my motivation totally intact, even greater than the years before to bring some new titles with the team.”
Vandoorne: ‘We have made some significant steps’
Vandoorne was by far the weaker of the two DS Penske drivers last campaign following his move from Mercedes-EQ at the end of season eight. His title defence was nothing short of abysmal, with his only highlight from season nine having been a shock pole position in São Paulo.
Above: Vandoorne’s pole in São Paulo marked DS Penske’s only P1 start of the season – Credit: Sam Bagnall courtesy of FIA Formula E
Too often, Vandoorne found himself towards the foot of the points, unable to progress towards the Jaguars and Porsches. His pace and racecraft failed to consistently shine in his first season with DS Penske, with that being something he needs to unlock for success in season 10.
Despite a very disappointing 2023, Vandoorne remains as one of the strongest drivers on the grid, something he will likely show on several occasions next season if the team can just extract slightly more from the Stellantis powertrain. This could be on the cards, with the Belgian admitting that “some significant steps” have been made ahead of 2024.
Vandoorne is “delighted” to be entering a second season with the side, and has revealed that their target for the new campaign is “consistency in performance”.
“I am delighted to continue the journey we started a year ago with the team,” said Vandoorne. “Consistency and stability will be the foundations of our future success. JEV and I are one of the best duos on the set. We have made some significant steps over the last season and we are getting stronger together.
“Consistency in performance is our aim for this upcoming season. The ultimate goal is to win the championship. I am excited to help continue to build on that momentum and pick up plenty of trophies with the team!”
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