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Wolff phone call instigated Vandoorne's HWA switch

  • Published on 18 Oct 2018 11:04
  • comments 6
  • By: Fergal Walsh

Stoffel Vandoorne has revealed that a phone call from Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff set his Formula E deal into motion. Vandoorne has joined HWA for the 2019/20 season after being dropped by McLaren F1 in favour of Lando Norris.

HWA is an affiliate of Mercedes, who will enter the 2020/21 season under the latter name. Vandoorne has struggled all season in Formula 1, but was handed a lifeline in the form of Formula E deal with HWA. 

“I had the first contact in about September, I would say,” said Vandoorne. “I actually had a phone call with Toto, and he asked if I would be interested to join HWA for the Formula E project. And yeah, I mean, I didn’t really have to think about that."

Vandoorne will join the team alongside Gary Paffett, who won the DTM championship with HWA last weekend. Vandoorne says that the future for Mercedes in Formula E is looking bright, which is why he didn't hesitate to sign a deal.

“I think HWA as a team has done extremely well in the past, just last weekend it won the championship in the DTM. The plans for the future are looking very exciting. When I had the chance to join Formula E with HWA, and knowing what the future is holding, I didn’t really have to think twice.” 

The new season will kick of mid-December in Saudi Arabia. Vandoorne says that getting up to speed operationally is likely to be the biggest challenge facing him before the season opener in Riyadh.

"I’ve had two days in the car, so I had a bit of a feeling already, how the feeling is behaving,” he said. “We missed quite a bit of running [on Tuesday at Valencia] because of a few issues, but it was always going to be that way.

“The team is completely new, there’s a lot of things we have to get on top of. The aim is to get on top of things operationally, get the procedures right, and turn up with a good package at the first race in Riyadh.

"It was nice to be back in this paddock and see so many familiar faces," he added, referring to a number of drivers he has shared a track with before including Felipe Massa and Pascal Wehrlein in F1. 

"A lot of the drivers I’ve raced against, Robin [Frijns] in Formula Renault, Felipe in Formula 1, many others, it’s nice to see those people back, even teams I’ve been working with in the past, so I'm looking forward to this series."

Replies (6)

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  • I'm very surprised by the fact how Toto lost internest in Pascal Wehrlein. It seems his attutide with Force India test didn't help him, losing place to Esteban. Pascal was interesting in Toro Rosso instead of HWA and now he is driving for Mahindra... he really lost it all since at some points I saw him a futue Mercedes champion

    • + 0
    • Oct 18 2018 - 11:36
    • Indeed, I wasnt impressed by him in DTM, but his drive over at Manor impressed me. I was surprised by how fast he fell from Sauber and onward.

      • + 0
      • Oct 18 2018 - 12:31
    • boudy

      Posts: 1,162

      From what I can remember of his DTM drive when won in 2015 was that he was earmarked for the win, I don't believe that he was the best driver on that grid he was just the driver that Mercedes wanted to win. He's talented but not sure how much and with that during interviews he comes very badly across almost arrogant. Therefore I am not surprised that Toto lost interest.

      • + 1
      • Oct 18 2018 - 15:38
    • Hard to feel bad for Pascal, even if he deserved Sauber way more than Ericsson. Pascal had many chances to shine and never did. I assume if Mercedes earmarked him as some mentioned, that much was expected in return. Ocon delivered, Pascal didn't.

      Regarding Stoffel, what a positive story. Big wins for everyone. I still think that Stoffel is a huge talent and whoever got him would have picked up a bargain.

      • + 0
      • Oct 18 2018 - 17:23
    • He was, Merc' more or less gifted it to him.

      • + 0
      • Oct 18 2018 - 17:24
  • siggy74

    Posts: 102

    Well the drive may be a gift from Merc, But the results suck.lol

    At this rate finishing bottom 3, isnt a bargain ;p

    • + 0
    • Mar 23 2019 - 16:13

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