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Vergne and DS Penske "need to wake up" to Porsche/Jaguar Formula E threat

Jean-Eric Vergne believes he and his DS Penske Formula E team “need to wake up” if they are to mount a title tilt against Jaguar and Porsche this season.

Jean-Eric Vergne, DS Penske

DPPI

The 2017-2018 Formula E champion sits third in this year’s standings, 19 points off championship leader and Porsche driver Pascal Wehrlein.

Vergne is the only driver other than those using a Porsche or Jaguar powertrain to take victory this season, having finished first in Hyderabad.

Further podiums in Cape Town – where he lost the lead to Porsche’s Antonio Felix da Costa on the final lap – and last time out in Berlin, along with three other points finishes, have kept the Frenchman in the title fight at the halfway point of the year.

But following his rostrum in Berlin behind Envision Racing’s Nick Cassidy and Andretti Autosport’s Jake Dennis, Vergne admitted that DS Penske’s performance remains behind that of the Porsche and Jaguar powertrain.

“I find it amazing how he [winner Nick Cassidy] could stay in the lead and not have a deficiency in energy compared to Jake [Dennis] behind – I was certain Jake was going to win that race and I’m amazed,” said Vergne.

“Both guys are really strong and if we want a chance at winning the championship we need to wake up and we need to improve because they are in a different league at the moment.”

Jean-Eric Vergne, DS Penske, DS E-Tense FE23

Jean-Eric Vergne, DS Penske, DS E-Tense FE23

Photo by: Alastair Staley / Motorsport Images

DS Penske is at a disadvantage with the new-for-2023 Gen3 machines compared with both Jaguar and Porsche, which have a customer collaboration with Envision and Andretti respectively, allowing them to effectively gather double the amount of data.

With the second half of the season commencing this weekend in Monaco, Vergne remains unsure if DS Penske will be able to close the performance gap.

“We’re going to work very hard towards that for sure, but after many races it’s clear that the Jaguar is the top car,” he said.

“They are good everywhere, they are good in qualifying, they are good on every kind of circuit, in any kind of conditions, in the race as well. And they are four cars, so we need to step up our game if we want to beat them.”

The former F1 driver also believes that this weekend’s event will produce the same style of racing seen at other venues, with drivers not wanting to lead and rather dropping back in the pack to save energy despite the tight configuration of the Monte Carlo circuit.

OPINION: Why Monaco will be the real test of Formula E's slipstreaming problem 

“The leader is not going to want the lead. I think it’s going to be more of the same,” he added.

“I’m not a fan. I’ve never seen somebody not wanting to lead [in a race] except in cycling. I’ve never seen that in motorsport.”

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