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Jean-Eric Vergne claims WEC seat with Manor for 2017

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Ex-Formula 1 driver and current Formula E racer Jean-Eric Vergne will make his debut in the FIA World Endurance Championship next month after signing a deal with Manor for 2017.

Vergne raced for Toro Rosso in F1 between 2012 and 2014 before spending two years in a reserve role at Ferrari.

The Frenchman moved into Formula E following his race stint in F1, driving for Andretti and DS Virgin before joining Techeetah for season three and taking a stake in the team.

Vergne will balance his Formula E duties with a drive in the WEC this year, announcing on Friday that he would be linking up with the CEFC Manor TRS Racing team.

Vergne will make his debut for Manor at the 6 Hours of Silverstone on April 16 ahead of a nine-round season that will also see him make his first appearance at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June.

“I’m extremely happy to join CEFC Manor TRS Racing for the WEC season,” Vergne said.

“Endurance racing and especially the 24 Hours of Le Mans is something that has been more and more on my mind lately. I couldn’t ask for more than to start this experience with such a great team.

“I can’t wait to be behind the wheel and bring my motivation to the team to achieve great results together!”

“We are very happy to welcome Jean-Eric to the team. He is a very talented driver that we have followed over the years as we have raced alongside him in Formula 1,” Manor sporting director Graeme Lowdon added.

“We are really looking forward to starting the season and working together with Jean-Éric and I hope that, together, we will have a really successful year.”

Vergne is the fifth driver to join Manor’s two-car effort for the 2017 WEC campaign, taking a seat alongside Tor Graves, Jonathan Hirschi, Roberto Gonzalez and Simon Trummer.

McLaren almost back on schedule with 2018 F1 car after delay

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McLaren is almost back on schedule with its 2018 Formula 1 car development after losing two weeks due to a delay in deciding on its engine supplier, according to racing director Eric Boullier.

McLaren confirmed back in September it would be cutting ties with Honda at the end of the year after three difficult seasons, favoring a switch to Renault power units.

The decision was not taken lightly by McLaren, causing it to lose two weeks in the development of next year’s car, but Boullier confirmed in an interview with the official F1 website that the team is almost back on-track.

“Maybe we made the decision to change the engine manufacturer two weeks too late for our schedule, but these two weeks have almost been recovered,” Boullier said.

“Any big decisions are always difficult to take. The concept of McLaren winning with Honda was a dream for everybody, yes – it was a beautiful story.

“Today we have huge respect for them and we definitely don’t divorce with fights and screams and finger pointing. We are all very professional – and in the end it was a business decision, which they understand.

“There is a sadness that it didn’t work out like we wanted. McLaren-Honda in terms of brands was a good fit – in terms of results it didn’t work.

“That’s what it is in the end. Now we have to see that we get back to competitiveness – back to the top!”