Porsche’s Formula E team heads to Rome after a positive season-opener
Porsche's Formula E team prepares for another double-header – this time in the Italian capital
After the season kicked off with two spectacular night races in the Saudi city of Diriyah at the weekend, 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 doubleheader event in the Italian capital – and again at the next round, which will be in Valencia on 24/25 April.
This coming weekend marks the first time the TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team has been to Rome. Pascal Wehrlein, who drives the no. 99 Porsche 99X Electric, is determined to build on his strong performance in Diriyah, where he tackled his debut race for Porsche from the front row of the grid.
His teammate André Lotterer faces tough competition in the second Porsche 99X Electric with the starting number 36. In the world’s first fully-electric racing series, 12 teams and 24 drivers fight for world championship titles, which are awarded for the first time this season.
“In Diriyah, the basic speed of our Porsche 99X Electric was there. We can build on this for Rome,” says Amiel Lindesay, Porsche’s Head of Operations Formula E. “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.”
We quizzed Lindesay about preparations for the double-header.
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 areas do you see room for improvement for the Rome E-Prix?
“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. How do you prepare for this?
“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.”
The Rome E-Prix is held 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.”
The worldwide broadcasting schedule of the Formula E event in Rome is available via: www.fiaformulae.com/watch/ways-to-watch