After the season kicked off with two spectacular night races in Diriyah, the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship heads to Rome on 10/11 April. Given the limited travel options due to the pandemic, the FIA and Formula E have decided to hold another double header event in the Eternal City – and again at the next round in Valencia on 24/25 April. For Amiel Lindesay, Head of Formula E Operations, this is the right decision: “In view of the current situation and the unpredictability of the pandemic in the second half of the season, every contested race is important for us and the series.”
This will be the first outing in Rome for the TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team, which scored valuable championship points in Saudi Arabia. In the No. 99 Porsche 99X Electric, Pascal Wehrlein is determined to build on his strong performance from Diriyah, where he tackled his debut race for Porsche from the front grid row. His teammate André Lotterer faces tough competition in the second Porsche 99X Electric with the starting number 36. In the world’s first full-electric racing series, twelve teams and 24 drivers fight for world championship titles, which are awarded for the first time this season.
The TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team heads to the third and fourth race of the season feeling confident. “In Diriyah, the basic speed of our Porsche 99X Electric was there. We can build on this for Rome,” says Amiel Lindesay. “Still, we can’t forget that, although this is our second season, we’ve only contested six events so far. The competition in this hotly contested world championship is super tight.”
Q&A on the Rome E-Prix
Amiel Lindesay, Head of Operations Formula E
What insights will you take to Rome from the season opener in Diriyah?
“We kicked off the season well in Diriyah. Still, there were a few things that we needed to sort out. The energy management was definitely not ideal. In certain areas both cars used a little too much battery energy. We need to learn from this and do better in Rome. I’m confident we’ll be stronger there. We didn’t get a chance to race in Rome last year. However, the track has been changed in many areas, which might suit us. Still, the level of competition is so high in Formula E that all teams will have sorted out these changes and the playing field will be pretty much balanced.”
In which details do you see room for improvement for Rome?
“We opt for a global approach. Hence we are working intensively on optimizing the software. As usual, the simulator work will be intense to try and prepare the team in the best possible way for Rome so that we come out of the pits fighting. The team spirit is positive and everyone’s highly motivated in the search for perfection. We aim to improve from race to race this season and be flawless in everything we do. The last time André raced in Rome, he finished on the podium. The team has the drive and motivation to achieve this again.”
Two races will also be contested in Rome. What does this mean for the team in terms of workload?
“A Formula E race day is extremely long. A doubleheader event puts the team under more stress, but there’s not a lot of difference in the preparation back home. The only thing that’s a bit more complicated is the simulation of grip levels because you have more track time. Much of the preparation for the second day depends on what we’ve discovered on day one. Of course, what can happen is that if there’s an incident during the first race, we’ll have fewer tyres available for the rest of the weekend – because we only have a limited number of tyres.”
André Lotterer, Porsche works driver (#36)
You have fond memories of Rome, it’s always been good turf for you. How motivating is that?
“It’s of course a great feeling to return to a racetrack where you’ve been successful. I’ve climbed the podium twice in Rome and I’ve set pole position once. Let’s see whether these experiences turn out to be in my favour. This is the first race for our team in Rome, and we’ll be driving a new track variation. This is advantageous for us, because with the variation, the track is new for us all.”
Your start to the season in Diriyah wasn’t optimal. Do the two races in Rome come at an opportune time?
“Absolutely. Every racing kilometre brings us forward. Two races also mean two chances for a successful performance. Not everything went smoothly in Diriyah, but there were still many positives. We were among the top group in the practices, which is always a good sign. We have a solid basis to build on. We’ve done the preparation work for Rome and I hope we’ll be rewarded as a team for our hard work.”
Pascal Wehrlein, Porsche works driver (#99)
You tackled your first race for Porsche from the first grid row. How much has this inspired you?
“As a newcomer to the team, having a good start was particularly important. We’ve shown our potential. We were very strong over one lap, but we lacked a bit of speed in the race. We’ve made some improvements for Rome, and if we manage to implement them in the race, I reckon anything is possible.”
How do you feel about contesting two races in Rome and what are your thoughts on the new track layout?
“The more races we contest, the better it is for our team. In any case, I’m looking forward to spending more time in the car. It’s possible that the first day might not run smoothly. If this happens, the weekend isn’t over – we have a second chance to achieve a better result. The new track is fast and a real challenge with its bumpy surface. When we prepared for Rome, the main thing for us was to familiarise ourselves with the current track variant and to find the ideal setup for our Porsche 99X Electric for the first race. In Formula E, you have very little time to tweak the setup on the actual race day, and that makes it all the more important to get the baseline right.”
The Rome E-Prix is contested on a 3.385-kilometre circuit in the Esposizione Universale di Roma district. After Beijing in 2014, it is the second longest racetrack in Formula E history. Compared the track layout in 2019, when Formula E last raced in Rome, four 90-degree turns and a chicane have been added. The circuit, which runs past the Palazzo dei Congressi and the Piazzale Marconi, features 19 corners. The straight along the Via Cristoforo Colombo was slightly shortened. “The new track doesn’t really look at all like the old one,” says André Lotterer. “So, it’s not a major disadvantage that our team has never driven in Rome.“ For Pascal Wehrlein, one thing is certain: “It’ll definitely be exciting.”
Live TV and Internet coverage
The worldwide broadcasting schedule of the Formula E event in Rome is available on https://www.fiaformulae.com/watch/ways-to-watch
Click here to find the complete calendar of the 2021 FIA Formula E season .
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Edited Porsche factory press release.
Pictures courtesy Porsche AG.