– Preview: Portland E-Prix, 24 June, Round 12 of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship.
– Pascal Wehrlein (GER) heads into the final third of the season as the world championship leader in his Porsche 99X Electric.
– With five race victories, the Porsche 99X Electric is the most successful racing car of the season so far.
– The Portland International Raceway is the fourth new circuit on the 2023 Formula E calendar.
Go West: The Portland E-Prix on 24 June marks the first time that the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship competes in America’s northwest. The race in the economic hub of the US state of Oregon is the final event outside Europe before the innovative electric racing series turns onto the finish straight of the season. Pascal Wehrlein and António Félix da Costa (POR) will tackle the event for the TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team in the Porsche 99X Electric.
The USA is not uncharted territory for Formula E. Long Beach, Miami and New York have hosted Formula E since the series began in 2014. With the Portland E-Prix in Oregon’s most populous city, the northwest of the country now opens up. After Hyderabad, Cape Town and São Paulo, the Portland International Raceway is the fourth new circuit on the 2023 Formula E calendar. Alongside the TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team, Porsche’s customer squad Avalanche Andretti also fields two Weissach-developed Porsche 99 X Electric racers on the IndyCar circuit with the 3,425-metre Mount Hood as the backdrop. Jake Dennis (GBR) and André Lotterer (GER) compete for Avalanche Andretti.
With the Portland race, the final third of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship gets underway – and it promises to be an action-packed event. With five races left on the calendar, not much separates the hottest aspirants for the title: After recently celebrating his third win of the season in Jakarta and reclaiming the top spot in the drivers’ standings, Pascal Wehrlein has 134 points to his credit. He sits just one point ahead of Jake Dennis, the winner of the opening race in Mexico, with six points between Wehrlein and third-placed Nick Cassidy (NZL). Cape Town winner António Félix da Costa ranks sixth with 78 points, with André Lotterer in 14th place.
In the teams’ classification, the TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team reclaimed the lead after the first race of the Jakarta doubleheader and extended it in the second race. After eleven of 16 rounds this season, the outfit from Weissach leads the championship with 212 points ahead of Envision Racing (190), Jaguar (171) and Avalanche Andretti (156). With a total of four race wins thanks to Pascal Wehrlein (3) and António Félix da Costa (1), the TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team is the most successful squad of the season so far. With Avalanche Andretti’s victory at the season opener, the new Porsche 99X Electric has so far notched up five victories.
Q&A on the Portland E-Prix
Florian Modlinger, Director Factory Motorsport Formula E
With your victory in Jakarta, you regained the lead in the world championship. After a few difficult races, how did this improved performance come about and what does it mean for Portland?
« Our strong performance can’t be attributed to individual parameters. In Jakarta, we put in a brilliant team effort under extreme conditions, for which I cannot thank our team at the racetrack and in Weissach enough. The squad was very well prepared for this challenge. The track characteristics and the external conditions suited our car well. Qualifying was our best so far this season and this was crucial for Pascal’s incredible victory in the first race. We have to build on this performance in Portland and try to focus on extending our championship lead with another top result. »
There are only five races left this season. Do you think the fight for the title will go down to the wire at the London finale? And how do you prepare for the new racetrack in Portland?
« After two-thirds of the season, the field is incredibly close, especially in the drivers’ championship, where Pascal leads by just one point. « I’m expecting a tough battle for the title right up to the last race. But first, there’s Portland as the fourth new circuit this season. We’ve never raced there before and so we don’t have any relevant data. The fact that the Portland International Raceway is not a typical Formula E street circuit but a permanent racetrack that is used by the IndyCar Series, among others, makes no major difference to how we prepare. The layout looks very interesting and it brings new and exciting challenges for the entire technology package of our Porsche 99X Electric. We’ve prepared meticulously for this. »
Pascal Wehrlein, Porsche works driver (#94)
How relieved were you after your win in Jakarta, and where did the new qualifying performance come from?
« 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. »
Portland isn’t a street circuit but a permanent racetrack. Has that influenced your preparation?
« 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. »
António Félix da Costa, Porsche works driver (#13)
In Jakarta, you added crucial points to the excellent team result. How do you see your role for the rest of the season?
« 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. »
Portland is the fourth new track of the season. What’s the big challenge?
« 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. »
Portland International Raceway is located ten kilometres north of downtown Portland on an island in the Columbus River. The permanent racetrack is a regular fixture on the American IndyCar Series calendar. For Formula E, the circuit featuring twelve corners was extended slightly to 3.190 kilometres. Two straights offer good overtaking opportunities out of the slipstream. The medium-speed section between turns 4 and 8 is technically demanding and requires a well-balanced car.