A turbulent European opener for the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship: The gripping and eventful third round of the season on the street circuit in Rome, in which Pascal Wehrlein (GER) scored seventh in the Porsche 99X Electric and earned valuable points for the TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team, was marked by numerous changes at the lead and collisions in the fight for a front spot. An eventful race afternoon saw the race in the Eternal City take off and finish behind the safety car.
With a strong qualifying effort and the second-fastest time in the battle for Super Pole, André Lotterer secured a spot on the front grid row – just as his teammate had done at the season-opening round in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia. On the 3.385-kilometer racetrack in the district of Esposizione Universale di Roma, he was unable to turn this promising starting position into a top result. In the first free lap after the start, where competitors were led by the safety car due to a partly damp track, an unfortunate overtaking maneuver resulted in a collision with the leader. For this, the race director issued a five-second time penalty. Ultimately, Lotterer was classified 14th. Taking up the race from the eighth grid spot, his teammate Pascal Wehrlein managed to move up to the fourth place at times in the No. 99 Porsche 99X Electric. In the end, he crossed the finish line in seventh place.
As a guest of the Porsche partner TAG Heuer, Patrick Dempsey paid a visit to the TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team in Rome before the race. The Hollywood star and co-owner of the Dempsey Proton Racing squad, who is currently filming the second season of the thriller series “Devils” in Italy’s capital, was obviously impressed by how Formula E has grown. He thinks Porsche’s involvement in the world’s first electric racing series is the right step.
“We have to be responsible for the environment, which is why it’s really important for Porsche to be involved in Formula E. Many of the developments in electric mobility that have been tried and tested on the racetrack will be seen in street cars. It goes hand in hand,” said the former racing driver, who made a dream come true when he finished second in the GTE-Am class at the wheel of a Porsche 911 RSR at the 2015 Le Mans 24-hour race. With the Taycan, Porsche’s first fully electric sports car, he got the chance to turn a few laps on the street circuit on race day and was very impressed, especially with the acceleration and handling. His conclusion: “This car is beautiful to drive.”
Comments on the 3rd round of the Formula E season in Rome
Amiel Lindesay, Head of Operations Formula E: “The qualifying was a good effort, particularly with P2 for André. Mega job. In the first lap, he saw an opportunity to pass the pole sitter on the inside and he went for it. The leader then closed the gap, they had nowhere to go and a collision occurred. Unfortunately, he paid the penalty and the race was over for André. Pascal had a pretty solid first half of the race, but then we weren’t as efficient as we’d like to be and we lost ground. We need to see where we’re losing. It’s a shame, Pascal could’ve been right up there. Now we’ll regroup and come back tomorrow.”
Pascal Wehrlein, Porsche works driver (#99): “I finished in the points again, that’s a positive. Still, the result doesn’t feel that good. We could’ve finished on the podium, but a few things happened in the race to prevent that. That’s why I’m a bit frustrated at the moment. We’ll now put our heads together as a team and see what we can improve for tomorrow. It’s great that we’re finally driving on a typical Formula E street circuit. I hope our result tomorrow is more positive.”
André Lotterer, Porsche works driver (#36): “I had an okay qualifying and was very optimistic for the race. Then the race started behind the safety car and I was behind the leader when he braked early for turn 7. I wanted to get past him on the inside but then he saw me go and we made contact. That’s sad, obviously, the car was quick and we had the stuff to win. Unfortunately, we had a great chance today and we didn’t use it.”
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Edited Porsche factory press release.
Pictures courtesy Porsche AG.