Saturday, April 20, 2024

Pascal Wehrlein: “We’re still a force to be reckoned with”

Pascal Wehrlein heads to the inaugural Portland E-Prix this weekend having regained the lead of the 2022/23 ABB FIA Formula E World Championship in Jakarta, where he returned to winning ways.

After losing the lead for the first time in four months in Monaco, Wehrlein entered the Jakarta double-header with a clear goal, to get his championship lead back. With victory in the opening race in Jakarta and a sixth-place finish in the second, that’s exactly what he did. His win marked his first time on the podium since the end of January in Diriyah, highlighting how long it’d been since he’d featured amongst the top three.

Reflecting on Jakarta ahead of this weekend on the West Coast, Wehrlein was quick to point out that himself and the TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team are “still a force to be reckoned with”.

“Jakarta was a mega weekend for us with my win in the first race and a good harvest of points in the second event. This meant we regained the lead in the world championship that we lost in Monaco and it underlined that we’re still in the game, that we’re still a force to be reckoned with. The joy and relief were huge.

“As far as qualifying is concerned, after Monaco we analysed what went well in the first races and what we could’ve done better midseason. We drew the right conclusions from this. We now aim to turn all of this into a top result in Portland.”

With just five races remaining starting this weekend in Portland, Wehrlein will be hoping to build a lead in the standings, to take some of the pressure off. As things stand he leads by just a single point from Nick Cassidy, demonstrating how close the championship is. This weekend is set to be a bit of an odd one though, as the race will be held on an actual circuit.

Wehrlein insists that this hasn’t impacted his preparations for the weekend, with him actually believing that Porsche will be “strong’ at the Portland International Raceway.

“Not at all. We ticked off our normal to-do list in the simulator and got a good idea of how the track will feel. I think we’ll arrive in Portland with a good baseline package and we’ll be strong there. The next few weeks will be very intense, which makes it very important for us to start the last third of the season successfully in Portland.”

“I’ll support the team and Pascal” – António Félix da Costa

Credit: TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team

On the other side of the Porsche garage, António Félix da Costa heads to Portland having finished eighth and seventh in Jakarta, effectively ending his slim chances of winning a second FE title this year.

The Portuguese driver is simply focusing on the weekend ahead, where he expects “energy management” to be crucial. Porsche have usually thrived at venues where preserving energy has been key, suggesting that Da Costa could be in for a strong E-Prix.

“The circuit is super fast. Energy management will play an important role. In terms of strategy, it certainly won’t be easy, but that said, we did well at other new racetracks this season. We climbed the podium in Hyderabad and won in Cape Town. Why should Portland be any different? I think it’s great that we’re racing in the USA again. The events there are always something special.”

With him being out of the title race, Da Costa has admitted that he’s happy to play the team game and help Wehrlein win the Drivers’ Championship. He’s “happy” to take the number two driver role for the remainder of the year, due to believing that his team-mate “would do the same” if it was the other way around.

“I’ll support the team and Pascal as much as I can and do everything to ensure that both world championship titles go to Porsche. I’m happy to take on this role because I’m sure Pascal would do the same for me if the roles were reversed. That’s not a problem for me. This is a team sport. Our common goal is to win races and championships. That’s our job.”