Podium for Porsche in Formula E
The 99X Electric shines on the streets of Rome
Porsche enjoyed a strong showing in Rome at the second round of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship this weekend. After a strong qualifying performance, Porsche factory driver André Lotterer secured a front row spot for race three – just as teammate Pascal Wehrlein had done at the season-opening round in Saudi Arabia. But sadly he was unable to turn this promising start into points.
Saturday's race began behind the safety car due to rain, and on the first free lap around the tight 3.3-kilometre street circuit, an unfortunate overtaking manoeuvre resulted in a collision with the leader. The race director issued a five-second time penalty as a result and Lotterer was ultimately classified 14th. There was better luck for Wehrlein, however, who started in eighth. The German driver managed to move up to fourth place during the race before finally crossing the finish line in a respectable seventh.
In race four on Sunday, things were looking up once again, with Wehrlein posting the third quickest time in the Super Pole shootout. In the early stages of the race itself, he executed a thrilling overtaking manoeuvre to take the lead. This was a moment to savour for everyone on the TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team: the first time the 99X Electric had led the field in Formula E. However, Wehrlein was eventually passed by a rival taking full advantage of his Attack Mode and lost another position at the restart following a full course yellow. He finally crossed the line in fourth, but the third-placed driver was later disqualified for using too much energy, promoting Wehrlein to the podium in just his fourth race for Porsche.
“That was a good day for Porsche and me," reflected Wehrlein. “To climb the podium at the fourth race of the season is a great result. I’d like to thank my team for their hard work and tremendous support. When you take the lead, you obviously want to win. Unfortunately, that wasn’t possible today because – like in Diriyah – we lacked a bit of speed in the race. Still, we’re on the right track. I hope that by Valencia we can take another step forward.”
Lotterer, who has previously climbed the podium twice in Rome, had to start the second race in the Italian capital from the penultimate grid row after using too much energy during the qualifying session. The team then decided to replace the powertrain of the No. 36 car and had to accept a 10-second stop-and-go penalty in the race itself, effectively ending Lotterer’s chances of getting back into the points.
“We’re thrilled about our first podium of the season,” said Amiel Lindesay, Head of Operations Formula E. “That was a positive surprise at the finish. The conditions weren’t easy, but we were strong. We’ve made good progress since the start of the season in Diriyah. We were at the front in qualifying, but ultimately we now have to implement that in the race. Today we were close. Pascal’s third place is a result on which we can build for the next doubleheader in Valencia.”
Watching the action unfold as a guest of the Porsche partner TAG Heuer was friend of the tribe and Porsche Design ambassador Patrick Dempsey. The Hollywood star and co-owner of the Dempsey Proton Racing squad was vocal in his support of Porsche’s part in the world’s first electric racing series. “We have to be responsible for the environment,” the Le Mans veteran said, “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.”
Races five and six of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship will be staged over another doubleheader event – this time in Valencia, Spain on 24/25 April.