WTCC driver Jose Maria ‘Pechito’ Lopez will join DS Virgin Racing in season three of the FIA Formula E Championship. Lopez has existing links to DS, as he currently participates in the WTCC with Citroën, with whom he has won two championships. The Argentinian driver has seen success in touring cars, and has also driven successfully in Formula Renault Italian Championship and Formula Eurocup FR V6, before now deciding to join the all-electric series.
Lopez said: “This is a really exciting move for me and I’m looking forward to the challenge of Formula E with DS Virgin Racing. I have already had some experience working with the DS Performance team on the season three car, so I am confident that we can achieve great things together next season. As a championship, Formula E is going from strength to strength and I’m particularly looking forward to going back to Buenos Aires where the team had such great success last season.”
Lopez will partner DS Virgin Racing mainstay Sam Bird, who enters his third year with the team. Bird, who finished fourth in the 2015/16 Drivers’ Championship, looked forward to the coming season, saying: “This season has been another positive step forward and I really believe that DS Virgin Racing is going places. We showed consistent pace in the second half of the season and if we can convert that into more race wins, then we should have a car that is capable of challenging for the championship next season. I feel at home with the team and really can’t wait to see what next season has in store.”
DS Virgin Team Principal Alex Tai spoke of the signing, saying: “I’m absolutely delighted to announce our driver line up for next season and to welcome Jose María to the DS Virgin Racing family. Jose is a proven world champion who has performed at the highest level and shown great speed and consistency in every motorsport discipline that he has competed in. I have every confidence that he will be able to translate that success to Formula E.”
After one year with DS Virgin Racing, Jean-Eric Vergne now moves to Techeetah Formula E Team, the outfit confirmed to take over Team Aguri in the 2016/17 season. Vergne will drive alongside Team Aguri’s Ma Qing Hua, an expected retainer, given Techeetah’s backing by SECA, a leading Chinese sports marketing company.
The founder and CEO of SECA, Sheng Li, said: “Racing in Formula E opens up marketing, R&D and fan engagement possibilities for global and Chinese brands. Techeetah Formula E Team is a global team with unique access to Chinese and European fans through our two star drivers next year.”
Alejandro Agag, CEO of Formula E Holdings, said: “Formula E is very happy to welcome to new Team Techeetah, backed by SECA, to our Championship. Our first race ever took place in Beijing, and the country is doing great efforts towards electrification of mobility. We will work together with SECA and our Chinese partners to expand Formula E in China, and reach out to millions of potential new fans.”
Both drivers will get a taste for their new teams at Donington Park Circuit, when Formula E returns to UK soil with two pre-season tests, in late-August and early-September.