Champions DS TECHEETAH lays down early marker after Valencia test

Reigning ABB Formula E champions DS TECHEETAH concluded three highly productive days of pre-season testing at a crowded Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia, as teams showed their early hands ahead of the 2019/20 season.

With automotive giants TAG Heuer Porsche and Mercedes-Benz EQ joining the team roster for Season 6, the electric single-seat grid is the biggest so far, with 23 other drivers now vying to deprive Jean-Eric Vergne of his title.

It proved a highly competitive three days, with 21 cars all finishing within a second of one another. But Vergne may prove a difficult man to beat, the Frenchman finishing in the top ten on two of the three days, with testing mixed between qualifying pace runs and longer race simulations.

Vergne’s new DS TECHEETAH teammate Antonio Felix da Costa also seemed to feel right at home after moving from BMW i Andretti Motorsport. The Portuguese was third quickest on the opening day, sixth quickest on day two and fourth on the final day, proving he may well push teammate Vergne hard in the coming season.

It will be a challenge that the double-champion will relish, however, as he sets his sights on more title glory in the seasons to come.

“Many drivers feel accomplished after winning one title and it’s completely dependent on what the driver wants in their life,” Vergne is quoted on the official Formula E website. “As for myself, I want more because I want to write the history of Formula E, of my sport.”

The fastest man over the three days was BMW i Andretti Motorsport’s Max Guenther, whose 1m15.087s effort remained unbeaten over the three days, the German running consistently in the top seven throughout.

For the other renowned German manufacturer new boys, as reflected by the lap times, it what was very much a first ‘bedding in’ week, Andre Lotterer, Neel Jani, Nyck de Vires and Stoffel Vandoorne failing to make the top ten on any of the three days.

There were predictably no such problems for the last of the German ‘giants’, Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler drivers Lucas di Grassi and Daniel Abt consistently in the midfield, with another expected challenger in NISSAN e.Dams and drivers Sebastien Buemi and Oliver Rowland also performing strongly over the three days.

 

Of course, applying the old adage in motorsport that you can’t read too much into pre-season testing times, there are many other fancied teams that will expect to be up there come lights out in Ad Diriyah – the likes of Envision Virgin Racing, Panasonic Jaguar Racing and Monaco-based Venturi Racing all faring well as far as lap times are concerned.

But the final word of the day must go to the man that they all need to dislodge from the top of the tree. And, with lofty ambitions of emulating Lewis Hamilton’s records in Formula One, the Frenchman is not going to relinquish his title easily.

“If the ultimate goal for a racing driver is to win a championship, then it’s a question of mentality if you want to have more or not,” added Vergne. “With more, I can also influence the younger generation. We’re here in Formula E for more than just racing…we’re fighting for a greener planet, we’re fighting to change people’s mentality.

“If I can write the history and be the Lewis Hamilton of Formula E, then yes I want more.”

Fraser Masefield

Fraser Masefield

Sports news and features writer, web editor and author.