Monday, May 27, 2024

Lucas Di Grassi Describes Portland as an ‘Extreme Version of Valencia’

Lucas Di Grassi is expecting Formula E’s inaugural trip to the Portland International Raceway this weekend to be “slipstream” central, with the Brazilian having admitted that the venue is like an “extreme version of Valencia”.

After a couple of weeks away, the 2022/23 ABB FIA Formula E World Championship is back this weekend for the first ever Portland E-Prix, as the all-electric series heads to the West Coast of the United States. It’s set to be a rapid weekend, mostly due to the venue being the “fastest track” on the calendar. Energy management is expected to be incredibly difficult, meaning the race on Saturday (Sunday 01:00 GMT) will likely see well over a hundred overtakes.

Di Grassi heads to Portland after another point-less couple of races in Jakarta, where Mahindra Racing once again had the weakest powertrain. The FE veteran has now gone ten races without a points finish, a streak he’d love to end.

Should Mahindra find a way to manage their energy well, then points could be on the cards this weekend, especially with Di Grassi expecting a “lot of overtaking and lead changes”.

“Portland will be the fastest track of the season, with very long straights and high speed corners – a bit like an extreme version of Valencia, so we expect the races to have a lot of overtaking and lead changes. I think the drivers will also be making the most of the slipstream too. It is very important for us to go racing in the US and I’m very happy to be going to Portland. I’m definitely looking forward to the race.” 

“We have some good ideas to try” – Roberto Merhi

It was announced last week that ex-Formula 1 driver Roberto Merhi would once again be filling the team’s vacant seat, after they parted ways with Oliver Rowland ahead of Jakarta. Indonesia was an incredibly challenging place for Merhi to make his FE debut, due to how hot and humid the South East Asian country is.

This weekend in Portland should be a much more positive weekend for the Spaniard, especially as the sport is racing on an actual race circuit, rather than a street track. Merhi himself admits that this weekend’s venue is “more suited” to his driving-style, meaning he should be targeting higher than where he finished on his debut. Merhi claimed seventeenth during the second race in Jakarta, a position he’d like to finish higher than.

Overall, he’s simply aiming to “make a step forward” and gain an even better understanding of how to drive the Gen3 cars quickly, whilst he’s also hoping to have a “lot of fun”.

“I am very happy to continue with the team for the Portland race – my second in Formula E. It’s going to be a different scenario for me in Portland than in Jakarta as it will be a new track for everyone, not just me. I think the characteristics of the Portland track are more suited to me and something I am more used to, so I’m looking forward to driving the Formula E car round there.

“Hopefully I can adapt to the car and circuit quickly so we can get a good result. Our target is to improve throughout the weekend and to take what we learned from Jakarta. We have some good ideas to try and hopefully we can make a step forward. With such a long straight it is going to be challenging and a lot of fun.”

Credit: Simon Galloway courtesy of FIA Formula E