We quiz Porsche's Formula E team as it prepares for Mexico City
As the TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team prepares for this weekend's Mexico City E-Prix, we ask the questions you want the answers to ...
Neel Jani (Porsche works driver, #18)
Q: In Santiago, you missed out on the Super Pole by just 0.15 seconds. Can you make it into the top six in qualifying in Mexico?
A: “Qualifying in Santiago showed us that we have the potential to make it into the Super Pole. I am learning with every qualifying session and every race. I would obviously like to take another step forward in Mexico. It would be nice to get both cars into the Super Pole. As the track has more grip than other Formula E circuits, the conditions will presumably be similar for all four qualifying groups, meaning everyone will have equal opportunity.”
Q: You have driven at the “Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez” a few times during your time in LMP1 – but on the regular circuit. What is your impression of this year’s Formula E layout, and what are your goals for the race?
A: “Compared to my previous races at this circuit, the Formula E layout only features two of the same corners. Generally speaking, the track is not your typical Formula E circuit, but it is rather more familiar territory for me: you have more grip and there are no bumps. It is reminiscent of classic racetracks. It is a very fast circuit with long straights and sweeping corners, which will significantly affect energy management.
"The temperatures also play a major role there. They affect both the tyres and battery management. Generally speaking, we travel to Mexico in a positive frame of mind. The fans always make us very welcome in Formula E, and it is great fun to race in front of the crowds. We want to exploit our potential at the Mexico City E-Prix.”
André Lotterer (Porsche works driver, #36)
Q: The layout of the Formula E circuit has changed dramatically this year. What is new?
A: “Generally speaking, the circuit is much faster. Two sections are key: the first sector is completely different to last year and the final turn no longer has a chicane. You will not find a longer right-hander at any other Formula E circuit. That will pose a challenge when it comes to tyre temperature, particularly for the left rear tyre. It will be interesting to see how this factor affects tyre management.”
Q: What are your expectations ahead of the Mexico City E-Prix?
A: “It is hard to say what awaits us in Mexico. In principle, we want to finish in the points with both cars. The circuit is more or less new to everyone, which is a good thing for us. It means we are not at a disadvantage compared to the other teams. And it is more of a traditional racetrack, which means the field will presumably be close together.
"The layout means you must be economical with your energy management, which will be a deciding factor. The Mexico City E-Prix is always a great race. The Mexican fans are very enthusiastic. When you drive through the stadium, you can hear the crowds in the grandstands. That is what makes this E-Prix so special.”
Amiel Lindesay (Head of Operations Formula E)
Q: What has the team learned from the previous E-Prix in Diriyah and Santiago, which is relevant to the Mexico City E-Prix?
A: “We took what we learned in Diriyah and put it into practice in Santiago, where we were better prepared. The race obviously did not go entirely to plan. However, we did make progress, which gives us cause for optimism. It is important to keep learning all the time and to maintain our positive mindset. The learning curve remains a steep one. That goes for the coming E-Prix and all the remaining races. The team is well prepared and will push hard again at the Mexico City E-Prix.”
Q: Does the team have an advantage in that certain sections of the track are familiar from its time in LMP1?
A: “That is an easy question to answer: no. Formula E is totally different to any other motorsport series, which means we cannot really use what we learned in the LMP1 races. The circuit has also been specially adapted. Generally speaking, we like the new layout, which has far faster corners and is longer than last season. We are really looking forward to lining up at the Mexico City E-Prix with the two Porsche 99X Electric.”
Sun-drenched Mexico City hosts the fourth round of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship, and the Porsche 99X Electric will at times be racing at 2,250 metres above sea level, as sections of the iconic Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez climb to the highest point of the series.
Following a shakedown on Friday (14 February), Saturday’s race day will begin with two free practice sessions: the first lasts 45 minutes, the second half an hour. In qualifying, the drivers are divided into four groups of six, based on the standings in the Drivers’ Championship. André Lotterer currently sits in ninth position, so starts in group two. Neel Jani, in 23rd place, goes in group four. The drivers each have six minutes to set the best possible lap time, with the fastest six drivers across all the groups then qualifying for the 20-minute Super Pole. This decides who will start the race from the first, second and third row of the grid.
The race itself lasts 45 minutes plus one lap and kicks off on Saturday at 16:00 local time (23:00 CET). You can watch all the action live on Eurosport, with qualifying shown from 18:35 – 19:45 (CET) and the race broadcasting live from 22:55 – 00:00 (CET).