Getting closer than ever

August 14 - 20 , 2019

Gulf Weekly Getting closer than ever

The debut of the Mercedes-Benz EQ Formula E Team is getting closer and closer and motor racing fanatics can’t wait for it.

The new Mercedes-Benz EQ Formula E Team staged four days of tests at the Circuit Mallorca in Spain featuring two former F1 drivers behind the wheel.

The testing allocation was part of Mercedes’ boost to joining Formula E as a manufacturer for the 2019/20 season which is happening towards the end of autumn.

Ex-McLaren driver Stoffel Vandoorne, who was on hand to assist with the development of the new Mercedes-Benz EQ Silver Arrow 01, had just completed his first season in the all-electric championship with the Mercedes-affiliated HWA Racelab team. Vandoorne found the test positive. He said: “It provided the opportunity to put in quite a few kilometres.”

The Belgian pro already knows the car from test drives at the Autodromo Riccardo Paletti in Varano, Italy, adding: “It was very good. We made solid progress, and everything went smoothly. After the first functional tests, it’s been fascinating to gradually start working on all the different areas. But the time just seems to fly by, and there is still a lot of work to do.”

Vandoorne was joined by 2010 GP3 champion Esteban Gutierrez, who drove in F1 for Sauber and Haas between 2013 and 2016. The Mexican has also previously been a reserve driver at Ferrari, and this year, was serving as a simulator driver for the Mercedes F1 squad. He has competed in three races in Formula E with Techeetah during the 2016/17 series before moving on to a seat in the US IndyCar Series at Dale Coyne Racing. Although, it was his first test with the team in the new car. He said:  “It was fantastic to drive for the first time. Thanks a lot to the entire team for giving me this opportunity. It was great fun and requires a completely different approach to any other Formula car.

“It’s really unique in that sense. My initial focus was on getting used to the car. After that, we did some important mechanical tests and worked on the systems. I also drove a complete race simulation. It was a great opportunity to test energy management over the full race distance.”

Former Mercedes DTM driver Edoardo Mortara was also on hand and it was his second time at the wheel of the new all-electric Silver Arrow after the previous test sessions at Varano.

He said: “We have made good progress. It’s been good to follow the evolution of the car and of its systems. There is obviously still a lot to do, but we are on the right track. I hope it continues like this.”

Between now and the first race of Season 6 in late November in Saudi Arabia, the Mercedes-Benz EQ Formula E Team will be working flat out. “The time to the start of the season is getting tighter,” said Ian James, managing director of Mercedes-Benz Formula E Ltd. “But I am very satisfied with our progress so far and in the recent tests.

“The team is increasingly coming together as a unit, the processes are being perfected, and the drivers are giving good feedback, which is a great help to us in the further development of the car. There are still a lot of challenges ahead of us before our new Silver Arrow contests its first race weekend at Ad Diriyah, but that’s exactly what we’re looking forward to.”

The line-up at Mercedes for the Silver Arrow’s first season in Formula E is yet to be confirmed.

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