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."