Stoffel Vandoorne has revealed he will race in Formula E for new entrant HWA RACELAB at the end of the Formula 1 season.
McLaren announced in September that Vandoorne will leave its team at the end of the season, with Lando Norris partnering Carlos Sainz in an all-new driver line-up in 2019. The Belgian has now confirmed he is switching to Formula E with Mercedes-affiliated HWA, and will test for the team on Tuesday in Valencia before heading to the United States Grand Prix. Van Doorne will partner newly crowned DTM champion Gary Paffett in the two-car squad.
While new to FE, HWA is a longtime entrant in the DTM championship, where it manages the AMG Mercedes team and builds the Mercedes DTM cars and engines. It also builds Mercedes Formula 3 race engines.
“Today, a new racing series, a new challenge and a new team for me has been announced: I will be making my Formula E debut in the 2018/19 season as a member of the HWA RACELAB squad,” Vandoorne said.
“I am honored that HWA have signed me for their Formula E program. HWA are such a great team with a long and successful history in motorsport. All the people I’ve met so far are really passionate about racing. Also, it’s great to work alongside such an experienced driver as Gary Paffett. I am pretty sure that we will benefit from each other during the season.
“At the same time, I would like to thank everyone at McLaren for having supported me throughout the last seven years, starting with the Young Drivers’ Program days, through to my two seasons as a test driver and finally, as a Formula 1 driver. Over these fantastic years I have met incredibly skilled and caring people who have made me feel part of the family, I have learned about discipline, tricks and patience and I am proud to say, today I am a better driver.”
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has previously given Vandoorne his public backing as he was seeking an F1 seat, and the 26-year-old is now part of the team that acts as a forerunner to a full Mercedes manufacturer entry in the 2019/20 season.
“The team name HWA RACELAB bundles the DNA of HWA AG,” explained Ulrich Fritz, HWA RACELAB team principal. “Since the company was founded in 1998, our core area of expertise has been developing, researching and running cars in motor racing. In order to compete successfully in the ABB FIA Formula E Championship, the focus on, and confidence in, these areas of expertise will be particularly important.
“We’re looking forward to the new challenges that come with Formula E. Over the past weeks and months, we’ve worked very hard to lay a solid foundation, upon which to enter this fiercely-competitive series. In doing so, we’ve benefited greatly from the experience gained in cooperation with the Venturi team, whom we supported last season as technical partner. We’re now well positioned with our own team to compete under our own flag. We’re approaching this challenge with a healthy mixture of confidence and respect. The season ahead will be a learning year for HWA RACELAB, but I’m confident that we’ll very quickly establish ourselves and be competitive in the series.”
RACER understands HWA is also close to finalizing a Formula 2 entry in 2019, having recently announced it will race in the new Formula 3 championship that will replace GP3.