• Retirements for Gary Paffett and Stoffel Vandoorne
  • Gary Paffett: "A really disappointing day."
  • Stoffel Vandoorne: "It has been a difficult weekend for the team."
  • Ulrich Fritz: "It is bitterly disappointing, but that is racing."

Sanya, 23rd March 2019 – HWA RACELAB travelled to the Sanya E-Prix with great optimism, on the back of pole position and the team's first points in Hong Kong. However, they were unable to back up the recent success in China, as the team left the popular holiday island of Hainan empty-handed.

As early as qualifying, it was apparent that drivers Stoffel Vandoorne and Gary Paffett were struggling to find the kind of form that saw them both progress to the Super Pole session last time out in Hong Kong. They were unable to match the pace of the front-runners on the 2.3-km circuit, which features two long straights. To make matters worse, Vandoorne also made a slight mistake, which proved costly given how close times were in qualifying. As a result, the Belgian had to settle for 13th place on the grid. Paffett, who qualified in 21st place, started from the pit lane after a routine check.

Shortly after the start, Vandoorne was involved in a collision with Virgin driver Sam Bird, resulting in his retiring from the race with a damaged car shortly after. Team-mate Paffett was also forced to retire after 13 laps, as he suffered a reoccurrence of the drive shaft issues that thwarted Vandoorne in Hong Kong.

Quotes on the race

Gary Paffett (37, England, car number 17), DNF
"A really disappointing race. I started from the pit lane because we had a problem with the car. We just tried to stay clear of all the incidents and stay in the race right through to the finish. However, I lost drive after just a few laps. I think it was the drive shaft. Anyway, I was unable to continue. All in all, it has been a really disappointing day. We have to solve the issues with the car before the next race in Rome."

Stoffel Vandoorne (26, Belgium, car number 5), DNF
"It has been a difficult weekend for the team. We generally struggled for pace, although we did have the potential to do better in qualifying. The race was then very short for me - just a few corners. I had a collision with Sam Bird, after which I could no longer steer the car. As a result, I have another DNF to my name. The goal was to stay in the race for as long as possible. It is a shame we did not manage that."

Ulrich Fritz, Team Principal HWA RACELAB
"We suffered a setback today. After our first pole position and points in Hong Kong, we wanted to continue our positive trend in Sanya. But that was not to be. Stoffel was involved in a racing incident, in which his car was damaged. Gary had issues with the drive shaft again. That is something that we must take a closer look at with our manufacturer, as we had the same problem in the last race. It is bitterly disappointing, but that is racing. We are now looking forward to our first race in Europe, where we will be out to bounce back."

The next round of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship is the Rome E-Prix on 13th April 2019.