Speed Demons and Dream Teams: DS Penske

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In the fourth installment of our series covering the history of Formula E’s drivers and teams, we’re telling the tale of DS PENSKE.

Credit: Formula E Media Bank / Andrew Ferraro

You will find out all about the history of the team holding the fourth place in the championship, as well as information on its drivers.

This team was among the founders of the series under the denomination of Dragon Racing, and was prior involve in Indycar as well. During Season 1 the team lined up with Jérôme D’Ambrosio and former Indycar driver Oriol Servià, who was replaced mid season by winner of the 2013 24H of Le Mans Löic Duval. It was the team’s most successful season up to date, with D’Ambrosio scoring the team’s first race win in Berlin and a grand total of five podiums, which allowed them to be the runner ups of the inaugural season, behind e.dams Renault winners.

2015-16 saw the confirmation of the lineup that had achieved the best results, and was another positive year all in all, under a new power train realized by Team Venturi jointly with Dallara, instead of sticking with the partner of the previous season, Renault. D’Ambrosio, who, after his retirement, moved on to become Venturi’s Team Principal, scored two podiums and a race win in Mexico for an overall fourth place in the constructor’s standings

The Belgian driver’s contract was renewed for the 2017-2018 season as well. The other Dragon Racing car was taken up firstly by Neel Jani, then replaced by José María López. Only once D’Ambrosio is on the podium this season, for a final P10 in the constructors standings.

In 2018-19, Dragon Racing allowed Maxi Günther’s debut in the series, who did 11 rounds pairing up with López. However, the impressive results of the first season are only a memory now, with the drivers in the points only four times.

Season 6 brought to the American team an all rookie new lineup, consisting in three times Le Mans winner Brendon Hartley for the first five races, Sergio Sette Camara, still on the grid in Season 9 driving for NIO 333, and Nico Müller, now driver for ABT Cupra. It was an all time low for the team, who scored only two points in the whole year.

However, the Swiss driver, which was confirmed for 20220-21 alongside Sette Camara, managed to score the team’s first podium in two years at Valencia in a chaotic Race 1. Müller leaves the team to focus on his DTM campaign from the Mexico E-Prix, replaced by Joel Eriksson, now Reserve driver for Jaguar Racing.

The last year of Gen2 didn’t smile to the Penske team either, fielding Sette Camara and former Formula 1 driver Antonio Giovinazzi. Out of the duo, in fact, only one driver managed to get into the point once, Sette Camara in London.

The tables turned for Gen3, with PENSKE rebranding and teaming up with DS. So far, the only lineup on the grid featuring two Formula E champions, Jean-Éric Vergne and Stoffel Vandoorne, has scored its first win since 2015 and a second place.

Fun fact: the newborn team has a Latin motto, “E pluribus unum“, which stands for “Out of many, there is one.”

Jean-Èric Vergne (alias JEV)

The French driver started his long and successful career in karting at age four, moving on to single-seaters in 2007 in the French Formula Renault. His first season in the series was so successful that lead him to join the Red Bull Junior Team. He won his first title in 2010, in his first season of British Formula 3 with six races to spare, an moved on to make his Formula 1 debut in 2012, scoring his first points in the second round of Malaysia. The French driver was confirmed to driver for the Italian team for the 2013 and 2014 seasons as well, before moving on to become a Ferrari test driver and joining Formula E.

He debuted three races into the first season of the sport for Andretti Autosport, scoring immediately pole position and finishing the year in ninth place overall. JEV scored his first podium and fastest lap with newly formed Techeetah in the season finale in Montreal in 2016-17, and scoring his first Formula E title in 2017-18 by an impressive display of consistency and two race wins. The French driver and cat dad went on to win the title again, becoming the first and only, so far, repeat champion in the history of Formula E. Vergne won three races alongside teammate and good friend Andre Lotterer. JEV went on to stay with Techeetah for three more seasons afterward, with as best result a final third place in the drivers‘standings.

For the 2022-23 season he has joined DS-PENSKE. After a more subdued start of the season he scored a win in Hyderabad and a second place in Cape Town, and he is sitting in P4 in the drivers’ standings.

Vergne has also competed in many different Endurance championships and categorie, and for the 2023 season he is competing in the Hypercar class with Peugeot.

Credit: Formula E Media Bank / Simon Galloway

Stoffel Vandoorne

The Belgian driver was born in 1992 and due to funding issues his motorsport career was delayed, beginning to afford doing a complete karting season only when he was 16. He was able to graduate to single seaters in 2010 after winning a “steering wheel”competition, joining the F4 Eurocup 1.5 series and winning it on his first try.

He also won the Eurocup 2.0 in 2012 and GP2 in 2015, holding the record for all time most wins, pole positions, points and points in a single season for the series. Vandoorne also experienced Super Formula in 2016, before debuting in Formula 1 and scoring points on his debut race.

Vandoorne was signed by McLaren for the complete 2017 and 2018 seasons, but his performances were marred by lack of car reliability, thus having as his best result ever a P7.

He joined Formula E in the 2018-19 season, signing for HWA and achieving in his first season his first pole position in Hong Kong and his first podium in Rome. For the next three seasons he switched to Mercedes Benz EQ, alongside Nyck De Vries. In the 2019-20, the Belgian driver was runner up in the drivers’s championship, winning the season finale. Vandoorne is the reigning Formula E World Champion, having scored a win in Monaco and seven podiums in the 2021-22 season. He has joined DS PENSKE for the 2022-23 season, as well as he is doing Reserve Driver duties for Aston Martin in Formula 1 and Peugiot in WEC.

His first Gen3 season saw him struggling a bit more than with his former team, in the points only in three races out of five.

Credit: Formula E Media Bank / Simon Galloway

So far into the season, DS has been showing quite a consistent pace, which inevitably helped them to capitalize on the mistakes of others and jump into fourth position in the championship standings. We’re curious to know what you think – what’s your opinion on the drivers? And if you’re a fan – what are your favorite fun facts about them? We’re looking forward to reading the comments.

For now – enjoy the race, wherever you are ✨