Monday, May 27, 2024

Pascal Wehrlein ‘pleased’ to still lead championship despite ‘missed opportunities’ at home E-Prix

Pascal Wehrlein remains as the championship leader in the 2022/23 ABB FIA Formula E World Championship, despite having experienced a challenging home weekend at the Berlin E-Prix double-header.

Halfway through the season and Wehrlein narrowly remains on top, with the German having seen his lead slashed from twenty-four points to just four. It was a weekend where the TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team driver had to be resilient and patient, with qualifying having once again been an issue. Wehrlein could only manage fifteenth on the grid for Saturday’s race at the Tempelhof Airport Circuit; however, in typical fashion he worked his way through the field to finish sixth.

Given where he started Saturday’s race, sixth was an excellent result; however, Wehrlein admitted once again that the team “definitely need to improve our qualifying performance”.

“At the end of the day we can be satisfied,” Wehrlein said after Saturday’s race. “I took off from P15 and ultimately scored important points for sixth place. We definitely need to improve our qualifying performance. Tomorrow we get another chance and we’ll do our very best to make the most of it.”  

Qualifying for Sunday’s race went significantly better for Wehrlein, with the German having qualified sixth in what was a wet session. The track dried ahead of the race, though, something which was expected to suit the Porsche driver. Wehrlein struggled to make ground in Sunday’s race, though, and had to settle for seventh, with him admitting after the race that he “missed opportunities”.

“I’m pleased to head into the second half of the season as the leader of the drivers’ standings. That’s one positive we’re taking from Berlin. Otherwise, today was a race of missed opportunities. More would definitely have been possible for us. It’s a shame that we couldn’t treat the many Porsche fans at the track to a victory.”

“We need to improve a little more in qualifying” – António Félix da Costa

Credit: TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team

On the other side of the Porsche garage, António Félix da Costa had a very mixed weekend, after he too struggled in qualifying. Da Costa could only manage a woeful nineteenth on the grid for the first race of the weekend; however, in true Porsche Gen3-style, he worked his way quickly into the top ten.

Da Costa went on to push into the top five, with him having looked set to push for not only the podium but the race win. His race was brought to a sudden end late on, though, after being hit by Jake Dennis at Turn Six. Da Costa tried to take avoiding action from the sliding Dennis; however, he was unable to get out of the way. It meant he ended race one in the garage, something he found “a shame”.

“We didn’t quite find the ideal car setup in qualifying and P19 was the price we paid for that. But this team never gives up,” Da Costa said Saturday. “We worked hard and, as always this season, had a great car for the race. It was an incredible event. We made up a lot of ground and I was running fourth with about ten laps to go. Then another car hit me and my race was over. It’s such a shame.

“You work hard to prepare in the simulator and then one of your rivals’ makes a mistake and you’re out. Well, that’s racing. We’ll be back in full force tomorrow.”  

Ahead of Sunday’s race, Da Costa qualified much better and got himself tenth on the grid, giving him an easy chance to score some points. That’s exactly what the former Formula E Champion did, with Da Costa having finished fifth. Overall, it was a weekend which could’ve been significantly better for Da Costa; however, he recognises that “big progress” was made during Sunday’s race.

“That was a great race for us as a team,” Da Costa said on Sunday. “We made big progress and at times led the field with both cars. In the last ten or twelve laps, we made some unfortunate decisions which cost us positions. Even though we had more energy than our rivals, at some point it was simply too late to attack again. It’s a bit disappointing but we showed how good we are in the race. Now we need to improve a little more in qualifying and then we’ll be where we want to be.”