Formula E

India winner Vergne travels to Cape Town with a tailwind: "Have only exploited 60 percent of our potential".

Tobias Bluhm

Tobias Bluhm

After a disappointing start to the Formula E season, Jean-Eric Vergne scored the first major success of the year in Hyderabad: The Frenchman won the E-Prix in India, taking over third place in the drivers' championship. The result makes Vergne optimistic for the next race in Cape Town. Nevertheless, he stresses that his team can still exploit a lot of potential.

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On paper, Stoffel Vandoorne and Jean-Eric Vergne are likely to form one of the best, if not the best, driver pairing in Formula E. Cumulatively, they have already clinched three titles in the electric series, winning 14 races and collecting 1,340 points. It was therefore all the more surprising for observers of the series that the start of the season for the DS duo went anything but according to plan. After good preseason testing they slipped into a results slump, collecting just seven points in the first three races of the year.

After all, the trend at the French-American alliance has been pointing upward again since the Hyderabad E-Prix. Jean-Eric Vergne won the race in India, albeit with great energy distress in the closing stages of the E-Prix. Vandoorne also fought his way into the points and underscored the general impression that DS Penske was competitive for the first time this season. The racing team now wants to use this good result to attack the top positions in Cape Town as well.

"The first two weekends were like a slap in the face," Vergne admits looking back. In a media round before the Cape Town E-Prix, which was also attended by 'e-Formel.de', he lashed out: "We had to realize that we weren't able to deliver the performance we had hoped for, especially in qualifying. That's what we focused on in Hyderabad. The challenge now is to repeat this performance at the next races."

There were some problems with his vehicle in the India race, Vergne reports. However, he says these were comparatively easy to solve. "After the first three races, we had used maybe 20 percent of our potential. Now I estimate we are at 60 percent. So we still have work to do. Just because we won a race doesn't mean we should slack off. We have to prepare just as intensively for Cape Town as we do for all the other races."

As usual, this preparation included several hundred laps in the DS simulator in Versailles, France. Particularly given the tightly timed schedule between the India and South Africa events, coupled with a Peugeot WEC test that both Vergne and Vandoorne took in Spain last week, the past few days are likely to have been intense for the Hyderabad winner.

The team's preparation for the race is likely to have been intense, particularly given the tight schedule between the India and South Africa events, coupled with a Peugeot WEC test that both Vergne and Vandoorne took in Spain last week.

"One thing is always certain in motorsport: you must never give up. We are very motivated in working towards our goals because unexpected things can always happen," said the 32-year-old. After the E-Prix in India, Vergne is currently the most promising chaser of world championship leaders Pascal Wehrlein and Jake Dennis: In third place in the championship, he is 31 points behind the Andretti driver and his Porsche brand colleague. "Even though the guys at the front have a big lead, the season is still long."

"But I don't want to think about the championship at all at the moment. I'd rather focus on the goal of improving the car," Vergne continued. "And as soon as the car is good enough, we can reap the fruits of our labor. It would be nonsensical to think about the championship right now: we just have to shimmy our way from one race to the next."

How the improvements sought by Vergne and DS since the Hyderabad E-Prix will affect the Frenchman's results is likely to be seen as early as next weekend. The Cape Town E-Prix starts on February 25. ProSieben will broadcast the race live on TV from 15:00. We will be covering every session of the race weekend in our popular Hankook Formula E Liveticker.

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