Season 8 of FIA Formula E world championship electric open wheel racing begins in January, but all of the teams gathered in Spain to try out some new parts this week. Porsche came to the party with its third update of the 99X Electric race car, again for Pascal Wehrlein and Andre Lotterer. There are other changes, obviously, but one big superficial change for the Porsche team is Wehrlein’s race number changing to 94, the number he’s raced his whole career, as it’s the year of his birth. He had previously raced with this number, but it wasn’t available in Formula E last season. Engineers have updated the software for the 99X Electric, but the powertrain needs to remain exactly as it was homologated last season to save costs.
In day one of testing the Porsche drivers did fairly well, setting top-ten times in both sessions of simulated qualifying. The series is testing out a new qualifying format, to be implemented this season, and ran two separate qualifying runs on day one of testing. This bodes well for Porsche, as the team never seemed to quite do well in the old quali format, but always had good pace. We’ll know more on December 2, when testing ends, but for now it looks like Porsche is making steady progress.
The Ricardo Tormo circuit in Valencia is once again playing host to testing for FE, marking the fifth such time. This is the dress rehearsal to the double-header start of the season in Diriyah next January.
It sounds like Porsche is already in race-ready form, as head of operations for the team Amiel Lindesay confirmed the test session will be used to shakedown the 99X Electric for its first race. “In addition to testing new parts, we also want to make sure that, like last year, the team functions as a tight unit. In the new season, we have some major changes in the qualifying and race format. We’ll simulate these changes to get an idea of what’s in store for us. This is an important part of our plan. Valencia is the only chance we get to test our racing cars before the season starts so we need to use this quality time constructively.
“Simulating a qualifying and a race with all teams there will be helpful for us and our competitors. The FIA and Formula E can also gain important insights into the regulation changes and iron out any inconsistencies before the first race. During the break, we updated the software in our cars, which we tested in the simulator. Even so, it’s always good to get real-life confirmation on the racetrack.”
Driver of the #36 car, Lotterer, confirmed that he’d spent the late summer and early fall off season working in the simulator and helping develop the new software package. But it wasn’t all work. “As for my private life, I went to the Goodwood Revival, celebrated my 40th birthday – and picked olives around my holiday home,” he said. Meanwhile Wehrlein commented that he’d spent much of the very short off-season working on his fitness and developing his driving strength.
Here’s hoping that Porsche has a very competitive season ahead of itself this year. With the departure of BMW and Audi, and the impending departure of Mercedes-Benz, Porsche will be the sole German marque represented in Formula E across season nine, with the introduction of Gen 3 chassis and electric architecture. We’d love to see that Porsche’s third season will be its charm.