Former F1 driver Stoffel Vandoorne is in positive mood as he prepares to start his second season in the all-electric ABB FIA Formula E championship next month.
The Belgian driver made his debut in the series almost a year ago, driving for HWA alongside Gary Paffett. But things take a quantum leap forward this year, with HWA handing over its spot on the grid to Mercedes.
“It’s great to be back, especially now with Mercedes,” Vandoorne told e-racing.net this week. "It’s a unique opportunity to start this adventure together with them.
"Obviously now I have a year of experience, which is great. But for all of us it’s a huge challenge to start this project."
Mercedes made the decision to withdraw from the DTM Series in order to focus on entering Formula E as a manufacturer for the seventh season of competition, which gets underway at Diriyah on November 22.
“It is great to be involved with them," said Vandoorne, who raced for McLaren in F1. "They had so much success in everything they’ve been doing such as DTM. And Formula 1 they’ve just won the constructors’ championship again for the sixth time.
"It’s a huge brand to be associated with, and I hope we can translate those successes into Formula E as well in the medium-long-term."
However he admitted that it wasn't likely to be an easy ride, even for such a powerhouse marque.
"There’s a lot of manufacturers that have been here since the start so there’s a big learning curve ahead of us, but I feel like I’m in the right place.
"With Mercedes I’ll have the opportunity to fight for podiums, victories and hopefully championships in the future"
The teams and drivers are currently hard at work at Valencia getting their 2019/20 entries prepared for the season opener.
“It’s a completely new story in Formula E so we’ll see how it goes," he said. "Everything requires a little bit of time. We’ve got to go step-by-step, but I think the ingredients are all there to be very successful.”
Vandoorne added that he was much better prepared this time, after he had almost no time at all to adjust after exiting F1 just weeks earlier at the end of 2018.
"I feel much more race ready compared to last season. Last season I was being thrown in straight from Formula One without any preparations."
And he was looking forward to pairing up with his new team mate, Dutch driver Nyck de Vries who just clinched the Formula 2 title with ART at Sochi.
"I have a good relationship with Nyck, I’ve known him for quite a while - we raced together in Formula Renault 2.0 already," he pointed out. "We were both McLaren juniors at the time as well, but it’s the first time we’re sharing seats in the same team.
“But so far it’s been really positive. Nyck is a rookie and has a lot to catch up on, but I’ll be assisting him in the best way possible.
"The closer we are, the more information we share, and the more we push each other," he added. "It will eventually guide the team in the right direction as well.”