Porsche has had some pretty rough weekends in the Formula E series lately, and while it continued this weekend the team managed to recover to pick up some much needed points. The Porsche drivers managed to score points in both rounds this weekend in New York City. Saturday’s race was pretty much decided by a massive downpour of rain that saw several cars run headlong into the wall with hydroplaning, and Sunday was a knock-down-drag-out street fight. It was a good weekend of racing and Porsche managed to take some good points from it. This has proven an extremely difficult year for the Porsche team, with stiff competition from all sides. With new regulations on the horizon, it’s not really worth spending more money and effort developing this lame duck chassis, so we can hold out hope that Porsche has been working on its Gen 3 car which launches later this year for a full season next year. Either way, it’s nice to see the team doing well, and it’ll be interesting to see what happens with a clean slate next season.
Saturday – Round 11
Saturday was a bit of a mixed bag for Porsche’s two driver squad. On the one hand Pascal Wehrlein had an amazing qualifying run, lining up fourth on the grid. Unfortunately for the German his race didn’t go quite as well as he’d planned. Wehrlein lost two positions on the first lap thanks to a poor start away from the line, and nearing the closing segment of the race he was down in 7th and 8th most of the time. Luckily he’d recovered at least to 7th with about ten minutes to go in the race, because a sudden downpour drenched the track. Even after yellow flag conditions were called by race control for visibility and a lack of grip, Wehrlein got completely rammed from behind by Nissan’s Buemi, meanwhile five of the top six went off track and slammed into the wall. With half of the field dead on course, the red flag was called and the race was later decided not to restart. The finishing order would be decided by the last full race lap completed before the red flag, netting Wehrlein seventh. A time penalty for a competitor gained Wehrlein another position moving him up into sixth. For his part, teammate Andre Lotterer qualified way down in seventeenth, and drove around outside the points for the full race. At one point he’d gained spots up to 11th as they ran, but when the race stopped he was 13th.
Florian Modlinger, Director Factory Motorsport Formula E: “That was a difficult day for us. We were very pleased with Pascal’s qualifying performance, P4 is a decent starting position. André wasn’t able to set a time on his second qualifying run. We were at the limit with the timing, but if everyone had played fairly, he would still have posted his time. In the last sector, some of the competitors slowed down, which meant the last one is dropped off and this time that was us. It wasn’t ideal and we have to see how we can improve on this in the future. When the track suddenly flooded during the race, the rear of Pascal’s car was shunted hard before turn 6, which pushed him into the wall. André managed to make it back to the pits, and could’ve rejoined the race in P8. However, unfortunately he was denied this chance. We now have to ensure that we get both cars into the qualifying duels tomorrow and then take some points home with us.”
Pascal Wehrlein, Porsche works driver (#94): “All in all, it was actually a good day. Qualifying for the semi-finals and P4 was promising. Unfortunately, I had to start on the dirty side of the track, which meant I didn’t get off the line as cleanly and I lost positions. My race pace was good and I managed to catch the leading group. Then chaos hit. I was running in sixth when someone hit me from behind. Since the position from the previous lap counts, I was classified in P7. Looking at it from this point of view, I’m obviously not pleased.” *
André Lotterer, Porsche works driver (#36): “No points today, unfortunately. Things looked good in free practice, my car was fast. But then I encountered a problem in qualifying which prevented me from doing any more laps because of the traffic and so I had to start from P17. I battled my way up the order and was within reach of the points, but then the race was red-flagged. Tomorrow is another day. I hope that everything goes smoothly and we are able to turn the potential of our car into a good result.”
Sunday – Round 12
Oh, what could have been. Pascal Wehrlein followed up his great Saturday qualifying with an even better Sunday run, setting the second-fastest time of the session. Unfortunately he used too much power in his qualifying lap and was dumped all the way to the back of the grid, starting the race from 20th. Lotterer looked squared up to put in a solid run by qualifying third on the grid. Unfortunately his foot slipped on the start line and he jumped the start right before the green lights went on, forcing him to jump to the brake right as everyone else was dropping the hammer. It’s incredibly lucky that he didn’t get hit from behind at the standing start, but in the process he dropped like a stone all the way back to 12th by the first corner. So now we have both Porsche cars fighting their way back up through the field with fast cars. It could have gone better, but it could have gone much worse. Due to some competitors crashing ahead of them, and some solid racing, Lotterer made his way up to 9th at the checkered flag, while Wehrlein grabbed 11th position which is impressive but not good enough for points. Not great, Bob.
Florian Modlinger, Director Factory Motorsport Formula E:“In free practice we laid a decent foundation for the qualifying. André achieved a very strong grid position after reaching the semi-finals. However we have to apologize to Pascal – after his accident in Saturday’s race, we changed the powertrain and then experienced problems in the qualifying, which meant he had to start from P20. The race went badly at the start, with André not getting away well from P3 and losing a few positions. He had to work his way through the field after dropping down to eleventh and, in doing so, he underlined that he had a competitive car. Pascal also drove a solid race and narrowly missed out on earning points with the eleventh place. All in all, we’re not happy with two points, obviously. In the last four races of the season in London and Seoul, we now have to bring home one or two very good individual results.”
André Lotterer, Porsche works driver (#36): “I’m so disappointed with this result. I had a phenomenal spot on the grid with P3, but then I messed up the start procedure a bit. My foot slipped off the start pedal and then hit the brakes to avoid being penalized with a jump start. As a result, I lost a few positions. At least I stayed in the race and earned two more points. That’s such a shame, the car was so good. More would have been possible today.”
Pascal Wehrlein, Porsche works driver (#94):“Best to forget about today. In my first qualifying run, I landed in P2 and that looked promising. We had a problem, so we changed the setup for the second run. I couldn’t improve my time, but that didn’t matter because the lap times were voided anyway. I started the race from P20 and finished eleventh. I did all I could but because of the qualifying, I couldn’t do more today unfortunately. Today was a day we weren’t able to showcase our potential.”
After twelve rounds of racing, Lotterer and Wehrlein sit 9th and 10th in the drivers’ championship, tied on 63 points. There is a 16 point gap to defending champ Nyck de Vries in 8th, and the Porsche duo are 16 points up on 11th, so it’s fairly likely that they’ll finish out the season in 9th and 10th unless something major happens in the final four rounds. Equally Porsche is 6th in the constructors’ championship 25 points shy of Envision in 5th and 77 points ahead of Avalanche Andretti.