At the Mexico City E-Prix, Porsche scored its first Formula E pole position in its 2020 debut season. On 12 February, the TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team returns to the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez – an extraordinary racetrack: The 2.606-kilometre circuit, which hosts race three of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship, runs through the famous Foro Sol baseball stadium. The TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team fields two Porsche 99X Electric in Mexico City. The all-electric racing cars featuring a Weissach-developed powertrain will be driven on the shortened Formula 1 circuit by André Lotterer (GER/#36) and Pascal Wehrlein (GER/#94).
This classic race weekend with just one race poses no less of a challenge for drivers and teams than the season-opening doubleheader event was. “We have very little time to sort certain things out, and there are no second chances,” says Florian Modlinger, Director Factory Motorsport Formula E. “We know we’re up against strong opposition, who we certainly don’t underestimate. Still, our clear goal is to fight for victory in Mexico.”
Q&A on the Mexico City E-Prix
Florian Modlinger, Director Factory Motorsport Formula E
The season-opening races in Diriyah were your first at the helm of the TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team. How was it?
“It was great to see how hard the team worked through the night after race 1 to come back strong the next day. We analysed many things and came to the right conclusions. Looking ahead to Mexico and the rest of the season, I’m thrilled to be working with such a highly motivated team.”
What worked well in Diriyah and what didn’t? What was your main focus in preparing for Mexico?
“Essentially, the technical and operational aspects such as reliability, car preparation and the event procedures went well. What we need to improve on is the qualifying speed so that we can get both of our drivers into the shootout. Another important issue in race 1 was energy management. We managed to improve this significantly for race 2, but we still have a lot of work to do to find even more potential.”
What are your thoughts on the new regulations, particularly in qualifying and the additional race time after a safety car phase?
“The extra time worked really well in the first race. It didn’t work out in race 2 because the race finished with a late safety car phase. That was unfortunate for André and Pascal and denied them the chance of achieving a better result. I think the new qualifying mode is excellent. It’s not only fairer on the drivers but the one-on-one duels make it more spectacular for the spectators at the track and for TV viewers. All in all, a big improvement.”
André Lotterer, Porsche works driver (#36)
You started the new season much better than last year. Are you satisfied with the first races?
“The qualifying went well in Diriyah and we had a chance for a podium spot in both races. That was something positive. But in the first race, I lost ground due to energy management issues, in the second race the safety car ruled out a final attack. Without the safety car, the rest of the race would definitely have been as thrilling. In that respect, I left Diriyah with somewhat mixed feelings, but at least I took a few points home with me.”
How do you like the rule changes, especially the new qualifying format?
“The new format is definitely a big step forward to ensure better parity between competitors. You get into the flow better, and the head-to-head duels through to the pole position finale are exciting for teams and drivers – and for fans, too, of course.”
What are you expecting in Mexico?
“I secured pole position in Mexico in my first Formula E season for Porsche. It would be fantastic if I could do that again. Obviously, we want to win every race, that’s our goal. But in this fiercely competitive world championship, it’s also important to earn points from every race to ultimately be in the running to win the title.”
Pascal Wehrlein, Porsche works driver (#94)
Your points tally in Diriyah didn’t meet your expectations. Were there any positive aspects?
“We were consistently fast. The only thing that didn’t work out perfectly for me was the qualifying sessions. In the first race, we learned a great deal about energy management and we implemented these findings in the second race. Had the safety car not been deployed shortly before the flag, I’m sure we could’ve gained a few positions because we made very good use of our energy. Although Diriyah is not particularly relevant for the circuits we’ll compete on this season, we’ve still gained some insights.”
In season 7, the Mexico E-Prix was held in Puebla. Would you have preferred to go back to Puebla to race?
“First and foremost, I’m looking forward to returning to Mexico. I have good memories of this country. I’ve always been fast there. Of course, I wouldn’t have minded racing in Puebla again because we were strong there last year. But I’m certain we’ll have a good package for Mexico City and that we’re serious contenders for victory there.”
What are your thoughts on this unique racetrack and the fans? Does the high altitude bother you?
“The track is fantastic. I’m really looking forward to that. Turns five and six before the longest straight are particularly important because it’s a good place to overtake at the end. Turn 16 is also critical. It’s a sweeping right-hander that can’t be taken at full speed and is tough on the tires. Mexicans are avid motor racing fans. There’s a real arena feeling in the infield of the stadium. And as far as altitude is concerned, you’re out of breath a little faster and the altitude affects the car setup, but we know this from Puebla.”
The Formula E race will be contested on a shortened 2.606-kilometer version of the Formula 1 circuit in the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, a racetrack built in honour of Mexican racing legends Pedro Rodriguez and Ricardo Rodriguez. The 16-turn circuit lies at an altitude of 2.285 meters and is the only permanent racetrack on this season’s Formula E calendar. The racetrack is virtually unchanged compared to season 6 when Formula E last raced in Mexico City. The corner combination at the end of the back straight is exceptional: it runs through the Foro Sol baseball stadium. “The race in Mexico has always been a great experience,” says André Lotterer. “The fans create a fantastic atmosphere and the track should suit our car well.”
Live TV and Internet coverage
The worldwide broadcasting schedule of the Formula E event in Mexico City is available on: https://www.fiaformulae.com/watch/ways-to-watch.
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Edited Porsche Factory Press Release
Pictures courtesy Porsche AG