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Esteban Gutierrez confirmed at Techeetah Formula E

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Mexican driver Esteban Gutierrez’s team of choice has been confirmed for the balance of the FIA Formula E Championship third season. He’ll run with the Techeetah team, having been announced there today. Gutierrez joins FE after three race seasons and one reserve season in F1, having most recently competed with Haas F1 Team last year in its debut year.

Gutierrez replaces Ma Qing Hua in the active race lineup alongside Jean-Eric Vergne starting from the Mexico City ePrix to be held on April 1, Ma having been relegated to third driver.

“I am very grateful to join Techeetah, a team with real competitiveness,” Gutierrez said in a release. “After four years of incredible experience in F1, I’m now taking a step forward in the future of motorsports. I am especially excited about my debut race in Mexico City. Hopefully I can put on a good show for the passionate home fans.”

Managing director Ivan Yim added, “We are delighted to welcome Esteban to Techeetah. We will have Esteban as prepared as possible for his home race. With the passionate Mexican fans awaiting in the stadium section, the Techeetah team is highly motivated with its new driver lineup.”

Timing mix up costs Vergne in Marrakesh FE qualifying

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Jean-Eric Vergne was left frustrated after a timing mix-up by his Techeetah Formula E team cost him a shot at pole position in qualifying for the Marrakesh ePrix on Saturday.

Vergne carried an impressive pace through practice before topping the group stage of qualifying, securing himself the final run slot in Super Pole.

However, the Techeetah team released the Frenchman from his pit box too late, meaning he was not allowed to exit the pit lane and take to the track to compelte a qualifying lap.

As a result, Vergne will start fifth in Marrakesh, with Mahindra’s Felix Rosenqvist securing pole.

Techeetah informed NBC Sports that a “procedural error” caused the mix-up, with Vergne making his frustration clear after the session.

“I said: ‘Are you sure I don’t need to go?’ with one minute to go, and they said ‘No, no, you have to wait’,” Vergne explained.

“I thought they know what they are doing. There are a lot of engineers and people who know the rules behind the garage. And apparently it was wrong.

“Unless they changed the rule overnight, which I don’t think they did, there’s been a huge mistake.”

Vergne and Techeetah impressed throughout pre-season testing, with their package showing pace comparable to that of the pace-setting Renault e.dams squad, giving the ex-Toro Rosso Formula 1 racer lots of hope heading into the race.

“We have an amazing car this weekend,” Vergne said.

“I think it’s a shame I just lost three points, but I can definitely win the race starting fifth.

“It’s not the end of the world.”

Vergne will gain a place on the grid following a technical infringement for Sebastien Buemi, causing the Swiss racer to fall from second to seventh.

Vergne fastest for Techeetah on second Formula E test day

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Jean-Eric Vergne made the most of his first public test for the new Techeetah Formula E team by topping the timesheets at Donington Park on Wednesday.

Vergne left DS Virgin Racing at the end of season two to join Techeetah, which took over from Team Aguri after a buy-out by a Chinese investment firm.

Vergne got his first run in the Renault-powered Techeetah car on Tuesday, finishing the morning session fastest with a new Formula E lap record at Donington Park.

The Frenchman’s time of 1:29.634 saw him finish 0.085 seconds clear of recent Indy Lights driver Felix Rosenqvist at the front of the pack, with season two champion Sebastien Buemi following in third place for Renault e.dams.

Daniel Abt led the afternoon session for ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport, but a flurry of late red flags meant that few drivers were able to get in a late flying lap, leaving Vergne’s morning time as the overall benchmark. Abt’s time was good enough for P4 in the final standings on Tuesday.

Sam Bird finished fourth for DS Virgin Racing ahead of Nick Heidfeld and Nico Prost, with Loic Duval following in P6 for Dragon Racing.

Jaguar Racing continued its first public testing programme with Adam Carroll once again behind the wheel, sharing duties with Mitch Evans, who is being evaluated for the second seat. Evans turned in a fastest lap of 1:31.267, edging out Carroll by one-tenth of a second.

Evans was joined in the Jaguar garage by ex-Formula 1 driver and defending WEC champion Mark Webber, who mentors the young New Zealander. Ford WEC driver Harry Tincknell will take over the reins of the second Jaguar on Thursday when the first test concludes.

Lopez joins DS Virgin as Vergne switches to Techeetah in Formula E

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DS Virgin Racing has announced that Jose Maria Lopez will replace the Techeetah-bound Jean-Eric Vergne for the third FIA Formula E season.

Lopez is a two-time WTCC champion with Citroen, the parent company of DS Automobiles, and looks set to claim a third title in 2016 before the French manufacturer quits the series.

Lopez was in Buenos Aires for the Formula E weekend back in February and expressed an interest in racing in the series in the future.

The Argentinian driver was almost drafted in to replace Vergne after the Frenchman came down with food poisoning, only to recover in time for qualifying at Puerto Madero.

With Vergne confirming his long-expected exit from DS Virgin last weekend in London, the team has wasted little time in announcing Lopez as his replacement.

“This is a really exciting move for me and I’m looking forward to the challenge of Formula E with DS Virgin Racing,” Lopez said.

“I have already had some experience working with the DS Performance team on the season three car, so I am confident that we can achieve great things together next season.

“As a championship, Formula E is going from strength to strength and I’m particularly looking forward to going back to Buenos Aires where the team had such great success last season!”

Lopez will race alongside Sam Bird, who is confirmed for a third season with Virgin.

“This season has been another positive step forward and I really believe that DS Virgin Racing is going places,” Bird said.

“We showed consistent pace in the second half of the season and if we can convert that into more race wins, then we should have a car that is capable of challenging for the championship next season.

“I feel at home with the team and really can’t wait to see what next season has in store.”

Vergne confirmed on Monday that he would be racing for the new Techeetah team in the 2016-17 season, which takes over from Team Aguri after fresh investment from Chinese sports marketing and management company SECA.

“Really happy to announce that I will be driving for the new Techeetah team, really strong team and car so I’ll be able to fight for more podiums, wins and some more Mumm [champagne] tasting!” Vergne wrote on Instagram.

“Thank you all for your support and see you next season for a really strong one!!”

Vergne will be joined at Techeetah by Ma Qinghua, who made his Formula E debut in Paris with Team Aguri as a pre-cursor to the takeover.