- Third place for Stoffel Vandoorne, DNF for Gary Paffett
- Stoffel Vandoorne: "That was the reward for all the hard work we have put in."
- Gary Paffett: "When you are behind a car that drives into the wall, there is nothing you can do."
- Ulrich Fritz: "What a great day for the whole team and, of course, for Stoffel!"
Rome, 13th April 2019 – HWA RACELAB driver Stoffel Vandoorne laid the foundation for his best finish to date in the ABB FIA Formula E Championship with another impressive performance in qualifying and Super Pole. The Belgian driver had shown with his pole position in Hong Kong that he is capable of a fast lap. At the GEOX Rome E-Prix, he set the fourth-fastest time to progress to the Super Pole session as one of the top six drivers.
The Belgian was third onto the circuit for the individual qualifying, which determines the front six places on the grid, but was struck by misfortune: The rain that fell briefly while he was on track ceased again immediately after his session on the 2.84-km circuit. The three remaining drivers enjoyed better conditions as the track dried out. Despite this, fourth place was a great starting position for the E-Prix in the Italian capital. Gary Paffett started the race from 16th place.
Vandoorne made a very good start, passing GEOX Dragon driver José Maria López to take third place. Still on lap one, Paffett unfortunately found himself caught up in a collision involving several cars in one of the tight chicanes. The race was suspended and Paffett was unable to continue in his damaged car.
Only after a 45-minute delay did the race eventually restart behind the safety car. Vandoorne consistently set fast lap times in his VFE-05. He established himself in the top three and at times challenged for second place. He then showed his experience and held his nerve in the final few laps to secure a major success for HWA RACELAB.
Quotes on the race
Stoffel Vandoorne (27, Belgium, car number 5), 3rd place
"What a weekend! It was the first weekend when everything really came together. It is very pleasing to end the race in a podium position. That was the reward for all the hard work we have put in. I hope we have turned the corner now. It was not easy at the end: I had to look after the car and just made it to the finish. I am delighted with today's result. Qualifying was good again, but we should be particularly proud of the race, as we had always struggled in that regard before today. I'd like to say thank you to the whole team!"
Gary Paffett (38, England, car number 17), DNF
"That was very disappointing. Qualifying was tough. I did not really put together a good lap. As a result, I had to start from the middle of the pack and was then involved in a collision. My gut feeling is that the car was good in the unsettled conditions. The pace seemed pretty good on the first couple of laps, I was able to overtake a few drivers, and I felt very good in the car. However, I was then caught up in the aftermath of another driver's crash. López - I don't know what he did there. He completely missed the apex in a corner and then went straight into the wall. When you are right behind a car that drives into the wall, there is nothing you can do. I hit him and Jev [Jean-Eric Vergne] hit me. The front of the car was damaged and that was the end of the race for me. It was a real shame!"
Ulrich Fritz, Team Principal HWA RACELAB
"Our first podium in Formula E! What a great day for the whole team. He drove a great race and did not make any mistakes. That was really impressive. It is a shame that Gary was out of the race so early on, through no fault of his own. He too could have been on for a good result today."
The next round of the 2018/19 ABB FIA Formula E Championship is the Paris E-Prix on 27th April 2019.
Read the original article from HWA Racelab here.