Mercedes driver Stoffel Vandoorne expects the Mercedes EQ Formula E team to need “a little bit of time to get up to speed” as the manufacturer prepares for their first season in the championship.
The German manufactuer took over from HWA Racelab, who entered the series last year. HWA will continue to run Mercedes’ trackside operations, meaning many of the personnel from last season will remain at the squad this year, but Vandoorne believes the Mercedes take over means there are still relationships to be built within the team.
“It’s a little bit of a start from the bottom, because it will be the first season for Mercedes as well,” Vandoorne told Just Electric.
“The engineers at the track are familiar faces, we’ve all got that experience from last season. But the big difference is now the powertrain is developed by Mercedes, which means there’s two or three different groups of people that have to work together.
“That relationship is something we’re going to have to build again from scratch. We’ve already had a lot of private testing going on - we’re definitely better prepared here now than we were last season - but it’s still not an easy task for any manufacturer to come into the series and perform at the very best.”
Two manufacturers will make their Formula E debut this year. As well as Mercedes, which will supply Venturi as well as the works team, Porsche will also enter FE for the first time.
Despite the high level of competition, Vandoorne expects the expertise at the team to help them achieve strong results.
“The competition is probably higher than ever with Mercedes and Porsche coming in,” he said. “Some of the teams have been here since season one. With the fine margins that there are, it’s not easy to go up against them. We’re going to require a little bit of extra time as well to get up to speed, but we’ll see.
“[Mercedes] have a tremendous amount of experience, but not that much experience in Formula E. They’ve been massively successful in Formula 1, building very, very strong power units for the F1 team. They’re six times constructors’ champions now and they’ve won the drivers’ championship as well. It just goes to show how well they’ve done in the past.
“But Formula E is something completely new. That’s where the experience we have from last season, we need to feed back to them, but also rely on their expertise that they’re bringing to the team.”