Bird and Vergne confirmed at DS Virgin Racing for second Formula E season

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Sam Bird and Jean-Eric Vergne will race for DS Virgin Racing in the second season of the FIA Formula E championship.

Ahead of the first pre-season test on Monday at Donington Park in England, the British team has confirmed that Bird will be retained following a successful debut campaign in the electric series.

“Last season was a learning curve but one I thoroughly enjoyed, so I’m elated to be back with the DS Virgin Racing team for the 2015/16 season,” Bird said.

“We had two great wins last season in Malaysia and then at my home race in London, so the aim is to build on that success and have a fantastic second season in Formula E.

“The advancements to the car around the powertrain are really exciting so I’m looking forward to getting back behind the wheel shortly in Donington to get some good testing in before the first race in Beijing.”

Vergne joins DS Virgin after racing for Andretti in season one, scoring three pole positions and two podium finishes en route to seventh place in the final championship standings.

“I am delighted to be joining the DS Virgin Racing Team at such an exciting time for the team, and also for the series given the new regulations for season two,” the ex-F1 driver said.

“With the DS brand coming on board as a new partner to the team, I am looking forward to being aligned with a French, forward thinking marque. I understand that there are a number of exciting things going on behind the scenes that should ensure that we have a competitive start to the season.

“Looking back to my first race of last season where I qualified on pole, I am very excited to be getting back into a racing seat at the first race of the season in October.

“I am confident that my raw pace and appetite for success will help ensure that DS Virgin Racing continues to be one of the leading teams in Formula E.”

Vergne will replace Jaime Alguersuari at DS Virgin for season two after the Spaniard announced earlier this week that he would take no part in season two due to medical concerns.

The Frenchman’s arrival at the team also frees up a seat at Amlin Andretti. The American team is expected to run Simona de Silvestro in one of its cars for 2015-2016, with the second potentially being shared by other Andretti-affiliated drivers.

Five things to watch for in Bommarito Auto Group 500 at Gateway

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There have been five different winners in the last five weeks of the NTT IndyCar season and driver that kicked off that streak in Elkhart Lake is in desperate need of a victory to help close the points gap to the leader. After being involved in the Lap 1 accident at Pocono Raceway last week, Alexander Rossi sits 35 points behind Josef Newgarden. Rossi’s two victories this season have come on road courses.

This week’s Bommarito Auto Group 500 the World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway is the third race on this track since IndyCar first revisited it in 2017. Newgarden took the checkers in 2017; Will Power grabbed the glory last year. Gateway also hosted races from 2001-2003.

Here are some of the storylines to watch this Sunday:

  1. For most of the drivers in the field, this will mark only their third time to race at Gateway, but two drivers were around in 2003 when IndyCar visited this track previously. Scott Dixon finished 15th in that race. He found the handle when Indy returned in 2017 to finish second and then third last year. Tony Kanaan was second in 2003; unfortunately he went the other direction and has not scored a top-10 at Gateway since.
  2. If one is looking for perfection on this track type, Simon Pagenaud is the only driver to sweep the top 10 on ovals in the past two years. In his last 10 starts on them, he has garnered an average finish of 5.2; his last five attempts have been sixth or better including a win in this year’s Indy 500. Pagenaud finished third at Gateway in 2017 and was fourth last year.
  3. The top two drivers in the points standings should also challenge for a top-five this week. Rossi was perfect alongside Pagenaud on ovals until his accident last week at Pocono with a sweep of the top 10 and seven top-fives in his last nine races. Newgarden also has nine top-10s and a worst of 13th on ovals in the past two years.
  4. Don’t count Dixon out of the points battle yet. While he currently sits 52 points out of first, Dixon is the hottest driver on the circuit with a current streak of five top-fives to his credit including his victory at Mid-Ohio two weeks ago. His oval record is a little spottier with two runner-up finishes and two 17th-place finishes in the last four races.
  5. Last week’s first-lap carnage ended Rossi’s top-10 streak at seven, but one other driver was able to sneak through and extend his. Graham Rahal will vie for his ninth consecutive top-10 this week, but that success is questionable in light of his Gateway record. Rahal finished 12th in 2017 and was barely able to crack the top 10 in 10th last year.

See More: IndyCar championship contenders seeing fortunes rise and drop

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