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Formula E

Monaco ushered in Wehrlein’s 2022 collapse. He needs payback

by Sam Smith
4 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

One year ago, Pascal Wehrlein’s head was, momentarily, a bit like the inverter in his Porsche 99X Electric. In bits.

He had just taken the lead of the Monaco E-Prix, was energy-rich and about to take full control of the race. Then, as he braked for the Mirabeau righthander he felt something tighten. By the following Fairmont Hairpin, it was all over. He dawdled around Portier, just made it through the tunnel and then stopped, just as the tail end of the field overtook him.

A beautiful fleeting dream was over just as it had begun.

Pascal Wehrlein Porsche failure Monaco Formula E

Yet worse was to follow because it was the start of a wretched run of form that saw him go from possible title protagonist to title nobody very quickly. From the remaining 10 races after Monaco, Wehrlein scored just 29 points. To put that into context, Lucas di Grassi, who was 13 points in arrears of Wehrlein entering Monaco, ended the season 55 points and five positions ahead of him!

A year on, Wehrlein and Porsche sit atop the drivers and teams’ standings. In many people’s eyes they remain the favourites to take the first championship of the Gen3 era. Perhaps Monaco will become the first true gauge as Wehrlein attempts to right what he considers to be a 2022 wrong.

“Looking at the whole of last season with a bit of distance and one year later, it definitely felt like Monaco was the race where we lost the momentum basically,” Wehrlein told The Race.

“We were looking quite strong in the championship; We had just won Mexico and it definitely felt like we had the momentum and we were fighting for the championship.

“Monaco was a big setback and then we got a penalty from the Monaco race for the following race. So, for me the whole season started to fall apart in Monaco.”

Drivers are often disingenuous when they say that previous events at a particular track don’t haunt them, don’t affect them. But Wehrlein isn’t one of them.

“You just notice it like, my mechanics, my engineers saying, ‘ahh, this year we really need to win Monaco, you remember what happened last year, right?’

“It’s like the whole team and also people around me telling me the same, so yes, we all want to win here.

“It was really painful last year to accept that but here we are again, and we can do it this year.”

Pascal Wehrlein Porsche Formula E Monaco

Now, Wehrlein has a different aura of confidence around him, yet it’s recently dimmed slightly after a succession of difficult races – whether it was him (Cape Town shunt) or the team (Berlin indecision on reading the race) dropping the ball.

He wants to get back the momentum that the first four races of the season brought him, where the big points were won.

First four races

Pascal Wehrlein: 82 pts
Next-best (Jake Dennis): 62 pts

Four races since

Pascal Wehrlein: 18 pts
Top scorer (Nick Cassidy): 68 pts

“I’m happy that where we are now is looking back 12 months ago and we’re in a completely different situation, we are competitive, we know if we do the job, if we don’t make mistakes, we can win almost every weekend,” Wehrlein said.

“I just feel like we did a big step compared to last year but the last couple of races we didn’t maximise everything, but a lot of it was, I would say, due to an issue.

“I’m just happy to continue and go into the second half and I’m looking forward to it.”

Part of the reason why he’s anticipating the fight ahead is that private manufacturer testing is back. A known forte of Porsche’s, who hit the track first with the Gen3 car last June, it could bring key armoury to the final phase of the season, especially the crucial trio of double-headers at Jakarta, Rome and London.

But more pivotal than that is Wehrlein’s poor qualifying form this season. It’s an area he and the team are working furiously hard on.

Pascal Wehrlein Antonio Felix da Costa Porsche Formula E

“We are much stronger in the races than where we are in qualifying and, to be honest, the last couple of years it has been the opposite,” he said.

“At the moment, how our car is and how it feels to drive, it’s not only the car set-up and the philosophy of the car, it’s also the systems and so on.

“It’s like in the race, you cannot say efficiency is just down to an efficient power train, it’s a lot more, it’s like you need a good balance, you need a good system side to recuperate the energy and so on so.

“There are many things and in the qualifying it’s the same, it’s not only one certain thing like tyres or tyre warm-up or anything, but also a mix, it’s a combination of things. At the moment, we know that in qualifying we need to do steps, especially now when the whole field is getting closer and everyone is also getting better in the races.

“At one point, it will be more difficult to be outside of the top 10 and win like in Riyadh from P11 or P9.

“That can change very quickly in the next couple of races or the next season.”

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