Gary Paffett collected his first ABB FIA Formula E points this past weekend with an excellent weekend at the Hong Kong EPrix that saw the HWA RACELAB driver finish every session in the top ten, finish group qualifying as the second fastest driver, make his first-ever Super Pole appearance, secure a top-four starting place and pick up points with an 8th place finish.
A milestone event in the championship’s history, the 50th race in the ABB FIA Formula E Championship took us to Hong Kong and what proved to be the most successful weekend of Gary and the team’s short Formula E career to date
The morning's action saw the HWA RACELAB team achieve several successes at this milestone E-Prix. Constant showers between the sessions made for slippery asphalt on the 1.86-km circuit in Hong Kong's harbour district and this posed a huge challenge for the drivers and the teams in the pit lane.
Gary, showing his skill in tricky conditions, lead the attack for HWA in the two practice sessions as he finished them both inside the top-ten places, in 8th and 9th place respectively.
Using the data gathered from the wet morning sessions, HWA RACELAB was able to cope best with the difficult conditions in qualifying and recorded a landmark moment in the teams season - the team’s first one-two in group qualifying. Gary (P2) and Stoffell (P1) set the two fastest times in their VFE05 cars and progressed through to the Gary’s first-ever Super Pole session.
Gary’s Super Pole lap saw him secure 5th place before he was later promoted to 4th place after Edo Mortara was excluded from the Super Pole.
Starting the race from fourth place, Gary Paffett initially established himself in the top five and was keeping pace with the race leaders through the first half of the race.
However, as the track dried out, the DTM champion gradually dropped back to eighth place after the re-start but then defended this position through to the finish to pick up his first four points in Formula E.
Collecting his first Formula E points, Gary was pleased with the progress he and the team had made in Hong Kong despite there inexperience against their rivals.
"P8 is a bit disappointing after starting from fourth. Our cars were not as strong on a dry track. We were not able to gain any experience in the dry here, which made it a tough race. However, we made it to the finish, I scored my first points in Formula E, and the team also picked up its first points. That is definitely a step forwards, even if we were hoping for more after qualifying. As such, I am generally very happy with this weekend."
Ulrich Fritz, Team Principal HWA RACELAB, was happy to see the team collect their first points but understands there’s still work to be done before Sanya.
"We have mixed feelings after this race day. Our performance in qualifying was absolutely magnificent and we picked up the first points and pole position in Formula E for both HWA RACELAB and for Stoffel Vandoorne. In the race, Stoffel was in contention for a spot on the podium until he unfortunately had to retire with a drive shaft issue. Gary at least managed to finish eighth and score his first points in the series. We must work on our race pace and the reliability of the car for the coming races. However, it feels good to know that we are improving from race to race."
With the first points on the board, Gary and the team stay in Asia as the next round of the 2018/19 ABB FIA Formula E Championship is the Sanya E-Prix, China, on 23rd March 2019.