"Does the soul good" - Jean-Eric Vergne gives Team Penske 1st Formula E victory since 2015/16 season
Jean-Eric Vergne secured victory in Formula E's first Hyderabad E-Prix with a spirited defensive performance. It was his first success since the 2021 Rome E-Prix almost two years ago. In the "eternal statistics" he drew level with Sam Bird (both eleven wins). However, the Penske team's drought was even longer. Accordingly, the victorious team showed after the race in India..
"I am very, very happy with the victory today," Vergne explained shortly after the end of the race in the TV world signal. "There were a lot of little secrets to find on this track. I probably just found them quickly enough. It was a clean race with no mistakes. That's good for the soul - for everyone on the team."
The Formula E double champion's successful drive was far from a foregone conclusion. After a positively aggressive initial phase, Vergne had worked his way to the front, albeit at the expense of his available energy. After a good two-thirds of the race distance, he already had two percent less power in his battery than his direct pursuer Nick Cassidy. By the end of the race, this deficit had even increased to around four percent, which is equivalent to more than one additional lap!.
Never the less, Vergne managed with all his routine over many laps to make himself wide at the potential overtaking spots of the Hyderabad Street Circuit. Cassidy couldn't find a way past and gritted his teeth. That Vergne actually made it across the finish line first with 0.1 percent remaining was a surprise to many. "It was a tough race because I had to spread myself out quite a bit at the end," he recalled. " But somehow we managed to win."
Quick resurgence after sobering Diriyya E-Prix
That a DS/Maserati-powered vehicle would ultimately take the win in India was probably something few Expert:ins had expected. Not only was Jaguar incredibly fast in Hyderabad. DS Penske had also not been able to fight for the top positions at all so far in the 2023 season. Just two weeks ago, Vergne had said, "It's been a long time since we've been in a position where we lack pure performance and a points result feels like a victory."
So quickly the tide can turn in Formula E. "After the first three races, it's great to be going places now. I couldn't be happier," the 32-year-old now says. His team chimes in on Twitter, "We had a difficult start (to the season), but as a team we stuck together, learned from our mistakes and brought home the win. Congrats to Jev - so deserved!"
We could not be happier!- DS PENSKE FORMULA E TEAM (@ds_penske_fe) February 11, 2023
We had a rough start but the team stuck together, learned from our mistakes and we brought home the win! ?
Congratulations @JeanEricVergne so well deserved ??#DSPENSKE#dsperformance #hyderabadeprix#abbformulae #motorsport pic.twitter.com/HnfVcxaFcd
No wonder DS Penske is pleased. After many unsuccessful years as a Dragon privateer team, Jay Penske's U.S. squad had teamed up with successful manufacturer DS Automobiles ahead of the 2023 season. The new alliance achieved its first joint success in only its fourth attempt. For Team Penske, it was the first Formula E victory since the Mexico City E-Prix in Season 2, when Jerome d'Ambrosio inherited first place from Lucas di Grassi. The team now stands at three E-Prix wins overall.
Vergne the team's No. 1 driver so far.
This was not the first time that Vergne had won a race debut in Formula E. The veteran had already won debuts in New York, Montreal and Diriyya. "Yes, I like new tracks - they're really cool," Vergne confirms. "This one in particular is a lot of fun."
It should also be fun for him to be No. 1 so far in the team-internal duel with Stoffel Vandoorne. In the world championship, Vergne is clearly ahead of the reigning Formula E world champion after four races. Vandoorne scored points in Hyderabad, but suffered a late setback.
The Belgian had finished sixth, but subsequently received a time penalty of five seconds for disregarding the track limits four times during the race. As a result, he was only classified in eighth position at the end. At least he still received four points.
Thanks to the strong result in India, DS Penske climbed to sixth place in the world championship and is suddenly back in business. This is especially true for Vergne in the drivers' standings: tied on points with Sebastien Buemi, he is now in third position. However, he is still 49 points behind the leader Pascal Wehrlein. Nevertheless: DS Penske is back.