Saturday, July 20, 2024

Pascal Wehrlein ‘Back on the Attack’ after Losing Championship Lead

This weekend’s Jakarta E-Prix double-header marks a significant moment in the 2022/23 ABB FIA Formula E World Championship for Pascal Wehrlein, after the German lost the lead of the standings three weeks ago in Monaco.

Wehrlein remarkably led the standings from the end of January in Diriyah until the start of May in Monaco, with him having led virtually half of the season so far. A recent run of poor performances has seen him lose a comfortable advantage, with him now suddenly finding himself twenty points behind Nick Cassidy. Wehrlein finished tenth in Monaco and hasn’t finished on the rostrum since he took the lead of the standings in Saudi Arabia, highlighting that he needs to find some considerable pace.

With seven races remaining, Wehrlein isn’t too worried just yet about having lost the championship lead, especially as he’s certain the TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team still have “huge potential” this season.

“Not a huge amount, there are still too many races ahead of us. Monaco was just a snapshot in the middle of a long season. In Formula E, every race is fiercely contested and, as banal as it sounds, it’s only the points standings after the final race that are decisive. We got off to a great start to the season but didn’t score as well in the last races. Still, with the huge potential of the team and the car, we can turn things around very quickly. In Jakarta, we get two chances to do so.”

Wehrlein heads to Southeast Asia this weekend having finished eighth in Jakarta last season, giving him hope that he can replicate his points finish from last year across both races. Rounds ten and eleven will likely be the two most physically demanding of the season for the drivers, with the air and surface temperatures set to be scorching. It could very well be a case of ‘survival of the fittest’ this weekend, and not just in regard to the drivers.

“It’s going to be a hot weekend in every respect. Last year, we adapted well to the conditions, which don’t only affect the drivers and teams, but also the equipment – especially the tyres. After Monaco, we had a little longer to prepare for the doubleheader in Jakarta and to analyse what we perhaps didn’t do quite so well in the last few races. Now, we’re back on the attack.”

“We know what we need to work on” – António Félix da Costa

Credit: TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team

António Félix da Costa heads to Jakarta having endured a miserable round in Monaco a few weeks ago, with the Portuguese driver having finished sixteenth following an unfortunate puncture. The Season Six Champion was on-track for a points finish, until he was dealt with his significant blow.

He does at least enter this weekend with fond memories of Indonesia, with him having claimed second in qualifying at the inaugural event last season. Despite having started second last year, Da Costa couldn’t convert his front row start into a podium after finishing fourth. He nevertheless has a “lot of good memories” of Jakarta, something which will likely give him an added boost across both races.

“Although I just missed the podium with fourth place, there are a lot of good memories. The crowds were very receptive to Formula E and their enthusiasm created a great atmosphere. The circuit is a medium high-speed track with good grip. After Monaco, we can’t wait to further improve our position in the bid for the title in Jakarta. The heat and high humidity put you under extreme physical stress. But as an athlete, you train for races like this.” 

Similar to Wehrlein, Da Costa’s biggest issue this season has been qualifying. When it comes to the race, Da Costa has proven to be one of the quickest drivers on the grid this year, with his win in Cape Town being proof of that. However, with several teams having improved, Da Costa hasn’t been able to fight through the field in the same way he could at the start of the year, putting more emphasising on him to improve his qualifying performances.

He admits that the team currently can’t use their “advantage” during qualifying but that they “know” what areas need improving, with the target being to make the duels this weekend.

“We have a fast racing car. We can’t use this advantage in qualifying at the moment. But we know what we need to work on. It’s only a very small step. We don’t have to try to reinvent the wheel. Even if we manage to qualify in the top 8 or 10, we’d make our lives a lot easier in the race. That’s what we’re aiming to achieve in Jakarta.”