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Consistency pays off for DS Penske at Sao Paulo E-Prix

After Jean-Eric Vergne's victory in Hyderabad and second place in Cape Town, Stoffel Vandoorne took his first pole position with DS Penske. With both cars in the points at the finish, the Franco-American team remains in the battle with Porsche, Jaguar and Envision Racing.

Stoffel Vandoorne, DS Penske

Photo by: DPPI

Located next to the Santana district of Sao Paulo, where the legendary driver Ayrton Senna was born, the race took place on the Sambadrome, the scene of the city's carnival every February.

As in India and South Africa, the 2.96km track was unknown by the drivers. Only the simulator preparation had revealed the bumps of the asphalt. For the sixth race in a row, the winner of the E-Prix was not the driver who took pole position. Nevertheless, the teams that are used to being at the top of the timesheets in the new era of Formula E are still there.

And although Vandoorne's record top speed (249.2km/h in South Africa) was surpassed on this unprecedentedly fast circuit, as Sebastien Buemi reached 266.5km/h in his Envision Racing car, this did not prevent the reigning world champion from taking pole – the 22nd for the French manufacturer DS Automobiles.

"There are a lot of positives to take away from this weekend," said Vandoorne. "I am very happy with this first pole position with DS Penske, which is also my first with the Gen3 car. We have to repeat this as soon as possible, but with such a fast track the drivers behind can save a lot of energy thanks to the suction effect. In these conditions, it's difficult to fight from start to finish at the front."

Stoffel Vandoorne, DS Penske

Stoffel Vandoorne, DS Penske

Photo by: DPPI

Energy duel between DS and Porsche

The battle began in the qualifying final when Vandoorne dominated the Porsche of Antonio Felix Da Costa. Their respective team-mates, Vergne and Pascal Wehrlein, still leader of the drivers' championship, started seventh and 18th respectively.

DS Penske may have been in a better position than the German manufacturer on the grid, but the air temperature was over 35C, and the leading position was not advantageous for energy consumption.

No matter, Vandoorne took the lead from the first corners and set a good pace while da Costa remained safe in his wake. As the attack modes were activated, the safety car intervened twice (which added four laps to the race), and that meant the positions changed. Porsche clearly favours a strategy plan of energy conservation, leaving Vandoorne and Jaguar’s Mitch Evans to do the work. Behind them, it's also a game of cat and mouse, with everyone hoping to find the best compromise between position, energy saving and attack. With a track that generates peaks of more than 250 km/h, more than ever energy played a major role in the final result.

In these conditions and for the first time this season, Jaguar placed both its cars on the podium with Evans taking victory and Sam Bird in third, split by the Jaguar-powered Envision car of Nick Cassidy.

Stoffel Vandoorne, DS Penske

Stoffel Vandoorne, DS Penske

Photo by: DPPI

Da Costa, who started second, was fourth just ahead of Vergne, who drove a smart race. Vandoorne, who led for many laps, was finally forced to slip to sixth position. Big points nevertheless for DS Penske, which moves up to fourth place in the Formula E constructors' championship, only one point behind Jaguar.

In one month, the championship will return to Europe. The next round will be a double-header, on 22-23 April. This time the competitors will return to a well-known track, the Tempelhof in Berlin, the only city where the championship has visited every year since its creation in 2014.

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