2016 was the last time Stoffel Vandoorne competed as a rookie, having won the GP2 driver championship and ascending to Formula One with McLaren Honda.
Now, in 2019, the Belgian native found himself once again bestowed with the “rookie” moniker, competing with a brand new team, HWA Race Lab, in the FIA Formula E Championship.
Well, at least “rookie” in name only.
“It’s a little bit strange,” laughed Vandoorne to eRacing Magazine when asked about his rookie status in Formula E. “I don’t feel like a rookie, but anyway, I am. It’s nice.It’s very refreshing. I’m really enjoying Formula E.”
As part a new startup, Vandoorne said the start of the season with HWA had been a difficult learning experience, but said that the initial headwinds competing in a new series were expected.
“Obviously with the year so far has been a little bit difficult for us in terms of race results,” said Vandoorne, “but we always knew that it was going to be a little bit of a tricky start for us as a team because we are completely new to Formula E.
“We were going to run [into] some problems let’s say, and that’s unfortunately what happened.
“On the other side, I think we’ve been doing very well on some occasions , especially in qualifying. That’s been our biggest strength.”
Five races into the 2018-19 Formula E season, Vandoorne scored HWA’s maiden pole position in wildly unpredictable conditions at the Hong Kong ePrix, where during qualifying saw the skies oscillate between a light drizzle to a torrential downpour.
However, a driveshaft failure forced Vandoorne to retire from the race, well out of podium contention.
“We were on pole in Hong Kong, in the wet in tricky conditions,” said Vandoorne. “I think the race would have gone pretty well. I think with what happened we could have been on the podium. Unfortunately we didn’t make it to the finish.
“This is part of motorsport – sometimes it breaks your heart, especially in the position we were. That’s part of the game.
“We need to try and minimize the mistakes. We’ve had technical issues in a couple of races, I’ve also make some mistakes in some races which I have paid a price for.
“We’ve had our cut of bad luck. We’ve not really managed to have a good race result. But it’s coming together and this is our focus now for the remainder of the season – try to put the whole day together without any problems.
“It’s a package thing – If you don’t have the car underneath you you can’t do it as well.
“It’s part of the learning process. I feel like every weekend I’m getting more and more on top of things, feeling more and more comfortable.
“This weekend I’m going to make another step – I feel just more confident every time I get in the car, to know what to do.”
Images: FIA Formula E
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