Current McLaren Formula 1 driver Stoffel Vandoorne has been confirmed as the team-mate of newly-crowned DTM champion Gary Paffett at HWA Racelab ahead of the independent squad’s first full season of Formula E.
Vandoorne, 26, made his Formula 1 debut in 2016, standing in for an injured Fernando Alonso at the Bahrain Grand Prix to take points on his debut in the premier category of motorsport.
Following the announcement of the retirement of Jenson Button later in 2016, it was confirmed that Vandoorne would partner Alonso for the following season, securing a tally of 13 points to keep his drive for 2018 ahead of McLaren’s coming engine partnership with Renault.
Despite having an encouraging first full rookie season in 2017 with glimmers of performance and speed, Vandoorne has failed to live up to expectations in the present campaign, holding only eight points compared to Alonso’s 50, meaning that the Belgian driver has been replaced in favour for current Formula 2 driver Lando Norris.
By joining Formula E, Vandoorne is the 21st Formula 1 driver to join the all-electric single-seater series.
"Today, a new racing series, a new challenge and a new team for me has been announced: I will be making my Formula E debut in the 2018/19 season as a member of the HWA RACELAB squad," said Vandoorne in a statement.
"I am honoured that HWA have signed me for their Formula E programme: HWA are such a great team with a long and successful history in motorsport.
"All the people I’ve met so far are really passionate about racing. Also, it´s great to work alongside such an experienced driver as Gary Paffett, the newly crowned DTM champion.
"I am pretty sure that we will benefit from each other during the season. Although we are all newbies to the series, I have no doubt that we will have a steep learning curve. However, it won’t be easy.
"My objective is therefore to become competitive in the series as soon as possible and to make a good impression.
"At the same time, I would like to thank everyone at McLaren for having supported me throughout the last seven years, starting with the Young Drivers’ Programme days, through to my two seasons as a test driver and finally, as a Formula 1 driver.
"Over these fantastic years I have met incredibly skilled and caring people who have made me feel part of the family, I have learned about discipline, tricks and patience and I am proud to say, today I am a better driver."
Pre-season testing for the coming 2018/19 campaign will take place this week at the Ricardo Tormo Circuit in Valencia from October 16-19 while the season will kick off at Ad Diriyah in Saudi Arabia on December 15.