Vandoorne: 'The hope is it's me and JEV fighting for the title'

There's a lot of change coming into Season 9 for Stoffel Vandoorne. For the first time, the Belgian driver will line up on the grid as the reigning Formula E champion. He's also switched teams, got a new teammate, and like the rest of the grid, has a new generation of car to get to grips with.

Vandoorne Valencia

Fortunately for him, his new home at DS PENSKE is already looking competitive for Season 9, if pre-season testing is anything to go by!

Speaking to the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship about life as a World Champion, Vandoorne talks us through his title-winning campaign and how Season 9 could be the most unpredictable for Formula E yet.

READ MORE: Mexico City's best moments

"It still feels great," Vandoorne said about being the current champ ahead of the Mexico City E-Prix this weekend. "I'm still very proud of everything I achieved last year."

Despite only securing one win all last season in Monaco, Vandoorne beat some tough competition thanks to his run of solid points most race weekends. Consistency is key, as they say!

"Last year was definitely all about consistency. That's really what I managed to pull off during the whole season. The key to that was the work ethic that I put in and the mental strength as well because formula E weekends are very tough.

"There's a way you have to deal with certain emotions because the highs and lows you're getting through Formula E racing are incredible.

"My mindset was very much going to every weekend that I'm not going to leave anything off the table that is going to cost me performance. I wanted to give everything, make sure that I give the very best of myself and perform as good as I can every time I hit the track."

New team, "big change"

This season, Vandoorne has switched to the newly-formed DS PENSKE team after his old stomping ground, Mercedes, have now become NEOM McLaren.

Defining the move as a "big change", he's labelled the shift as being at a "good moment", especially with the introduction of the brilliant Gen3 machinery arriving.

READ MORE: Every driver and team racing in 2022/23

"Obviously, I'm joining a group of people that have been very successful in the past. I feel like together, with my own experiences that I've had over the last four years in Formula E, we've got both a lot to bring two towards each other.

"Our ambitions are very high. Our common goals are to fight for victories and to win championships. I very much hope we can achieve those targets."

"There's a way you have to deal with certain emotions because the highs and lows you're getting through Formula E racing are incredible.

— Stoffel Vandoorne, DS PENSKE

As well as a new team and a completely different beast to tame, with a faster, lighter and more agile Gen3 car ready to race, Vandoorne also welcomes change in the shape of a new, very experienced teammate.

Jean-Eric Vergne, no stranger to the DS family, is the only two-time Formula E champion. The pairing of these two legends has certainly excited fans who want to see how they'll compare next to one another.

WATCH: Don't miss a minute of Season 9

"We've known each other for quite a while already," Vandoorne stated when talking about his new teammate. "It's going to be the first time we're actually working together on track, but so far, everything has been going very well.

"We both got a lot of winning between us and a lot of podiums. We've got a lot of experience, and I feel like this will benefit our own driving and definitely the team pushing forward."

The team to beat?

If pre-season testing in Valencia is anything to go by, both reigning champion Vandoorne and his teammate Vergne are in for a good season ahead. Completing the test with no significant issues, plenty of laps under their belts, and rapid pace will be a positive start for DS PENSKE.

However, Vandoorne is keeping his cards close to his chest ahead of the season opener this weekend.

DS PENSKE Vandoorne

"To be fair, I couldn't name one single person right now who's going to be the biggest threat for season 9. There are so many variables and so many new things for next season that it's too early to really say who will be your closest competitors.

"I hope it'll be between myself and JEV to fight it out. That would be a luxury position for our team to be in. But we just got to keep working hard.

"There's a lot of new development coming with Gen3, a lot of opportunities to create a very strong package, and that's where our focus is. Then we'll worry about the others later."

We'll have to wait and see if Vandoorne can match his teammate and become Formula E's next back-to-back champion this season!

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