Vergne to leave DS Virgin Racing for third Formula E season

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LONDON, UK – Jean-Eric Vergne will switch teams for the third FIA Formula E season after making his final appearance for DS Virgin Racing in Sunday’s London ePrix.

Vergne joined DS Virgin for season two, racing alongside Sam Bird. However, he struggled to match his teammate for pace for much of the campaign, only scoring his first podium finish in Paris in April. Pole position followed in Berlin before another podium in London on Saturday.

However, Vergne’s future with DS Virgin had been brought into question ever since the Buenos Aires ePrix in February amid confusion over his fitness after being ruled out before ultimately racing.

Vergne dropped hints about a possible departure in the lead-up to the London weekend, before confirming after the race on Sunday that it had been his last for the team.

“Yes, it was my last race with them,” Vergne told this writer, before saying that an announcement regarding his next move in Formula E will come “soon”.

Vergne balances his commitments in Formula E with a reserve role at Scuderia Ferrari in Formula 1, having taken over from Esteban Gutierrez following the Meixcan’s move to Haas for the 2016 season.

His final race for DS Virgin ended with a time penalty after using too much energy on his final stint, resulting in 50 seconds being added to his time, costing him third place. An additional second was added for an unsafe release from the pit lane.

Team principal Alex Tai confirmed that a miscalculation on the pit wall had caused Vergne to run short on energy, eventually being classified eighth after the penalties.

“I freed JEV up to make sure he was still able to attack and race as hard as he wanted to race. I should have taken a little but more into account some of the maths that was going on in the pit lane at the same time,” Tai explained.

Vergne’s seat with DS Virgin is widely expected to be taken by two-time WTCC champion Jose Maria Lopez, who is a factory driver for Citroen, the parent company of DS.

Lopez expressed an interest in racing in Formula E over the Buenos Aires ePrix weekend in his native Argentina, and even had a seat fitting after Vergne was ruled out before eventually recovering to take part in the race.