DS Penske duo Jean-Éric Vergne and Stoffel Vandoorne have both confirmed that should the Formula E calendar clash with any of the eight World Endurance Championship rounds in 2024, then they’ll prioritise the all-electric series.
Vergne and Vandoorne were both confirmed on Thursday morning as DS Penske’s driver line-up once again, for the second season of the Gen3 era. It’s not just in Formula E where the two drivers are set to be team-mates, as they are also part of Peugeot’s Hypercar programme in the WEC.
However, a big issue based on Formula E’s current provisional calendar is that three races clash with WEC events, something which, if left unchanged, will force almost half of the grid to make an unfair decision.
As things stand, the first Formula E race set to clash with a WEC event takes place on February 24 and is currently one of three TBD slots. WEC’s prologue event in Qatar is scheduled for the same date. More concerningly, the Berlin E-Prix and the Six Hours of Spa on May 11 are also set to clash, as is the Jakarta E-Prix and the Le Mans 24 Hours test day, something which also occurred last season.
André Lotterer made the choice last season to miss the Jakarta double-header in order to attend the Le Mans test day, a decision a considerable number of drivers on the grid could be forced to make.
For the events not to clash, it’s more likely that the Formula E calendar will need to change, given that it’s still only provisional, whereas the WEC calendar was approved via an FIA World Motor Sport e-vote back in June.
Formula E’s calendar is set to be discussed by the FIA World Motor Sport Council again on October 19, where Vergne is hopeful that a “solution” can be found to avoid any clashes. Should a solution not be found, then the two-time Formula E Champion will prioritise his DS Penske commitments.
“We are quite hopeful together with the organiser of the WEC and Formula E that they can find a solution,” Vergne said, as reported by Autosport.
“I know they’re working hard on that. I don’t know exactly how many Formula E drivers are doing the WEC championship but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s more than half the grid.
“I’m convinced that they are working to find a solution so we’re very hopeful that somebody will change the date but in case there is this clash, my priority is DS Penske and Formula E.”
Vandoorne is in complete agreement with his team-mate and thinks something must be done between the WEC, Formula E and the FIA to “avoid this clash”, given just how many drivers will be impacted.
Like Vergne, though, the Belgian driver will prioritise Formula E if a clash remains come 2024, regardless of the fact he only recently joined Peugeot.
“I think if you look at the grid in Formula E, there is pretty much half the grid that let’s say have the same issue,” added Vandoorne.
“There are a lot of drivers combining both programmes and I think both programmes are kind of complimentary but hopefully Formula E and WEC together will find a solution to avoid this clash.
“I think it would be in the interest of both championships to be able to avoid it and for us to be able to race both. But same for me, the priority is Formula E.”
Several uncertainties do remain over the season 10 calendar, with the Hyderabad E-Prix looking likely not to return. Cape Town, on the other hand, is expected to make a second appearance next year and fill one of the two TBD spots in February.
The initial expectation was for the two TBD slots on February 10 and 24, to be filled by Hyderabad and Cape Town, whilst the remaining TBD slot on May 25 could be taken by an inaugural trip to Malaga. A return to Seoul is another rumoured possibility, although more will be known nearer to the FIA World Motor Sport Council meeting on October 19.