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Pascal Wehrlein celebrates Jakarta E-Prix win

Formula E: The battle’s back on for Porsche driver Pascal Wehrlein

With a third victory now under his belt, Pascal Wehrlein is back in the championship fight

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Wehrlein recouped his championship lead in Jakarta last weekend after it slipped from his grasp in Monaco. Can he go on to win it all?

Pascal Wehrlein celebrates his Jakarta E-Prix win with the Porsche team
Jakarta saw a return to form for Wehrlein and Porsche. (Image credit: Simon Galloway / Formula E Media Bank)

Wehrlein’s dominant start to the season had been electric but fleeting. The German driver had been quick to assert himself as the benchmark. But as the season went on, Wehrlein’s championship lead steadily began to depreciate.

By the time Monaco rolled around, it’d seemed almost inevitable that Wehrlein would lose hold of the championship. Porsche’s form had been middling at best, whilst rivals Nick Cassidy (Envision) and Mitch Evans (Jaguar) had been lighting up the field. Cassidy and Evans were on winning streaks — Pascal Wehrlein hadn’t graced the steps of the podium in months.

When Nick Cassidy took the win in Monaco – and with it, the lead of the championship – it appeared to mark the turning of the tide for the championship battle. Attention would shift from Porsche and Wehrlein. The battle was between Evans and Cassidy, right?

Wrong. Along came the Jakarta E-Prix, and with it, Pascal Wehrlein’s first win since the Diriyah E-Prix six months ago. Wehrlein didn’t so much as rocket to the top of the standings as clamber back up. He’d slipped only a handful of places, his initial championship lead mighty enough to soften the blow of Porsche’s recent lack of performance.

For Wehrlein, the win in Jakarta felt reminiscent of Porsche’s strong early-season form. “We are back in the lead of both championships,” Wehrlein told select members of the press, including FormulaNerds. “Definitely there was a dip after the very good start we had, but Jakarta felt a bit like a comeback in terms of performance and where we want to be.”

I’m glad and happy that we found our performance back,” he said. “If you look at last weekend, we scored 33 points, which is a very good average for a race weekend. That’s where we need to be.” 

A winner’s mindset 

As the final rounds of the season creep steadily up on us, the intensity of the championship battle has turned up a notch. The Porsche driver says he expects an “intense and close fight until the very end”.

This season of Formula E has been notoriously unpredictable — which only adds a further degree of complexity to the championship battle. So unpredictable has this season been, that qualifying on pole does little to guarantee you a race win. In fact, Maximilian Günther’s win in the second Jakarta round was the first race to be won from pole position all season.

Wehrlein is well aware of the electric racing series’ unpredictability. It doesn’t perturb him, though.

“I’m always optimistic, and I always turn up on the weekend with a good mind, and also in the mood to win,” said Wehrlein.  He added:

“Obviously then winning is always a bit of a surprise because in Formula E nothing is certain.”

“I think the whole field is so close together and I think the performance of everyone is so good that you can never be sure that you will win the race by turning up before the weekend,” Wehrlein continued. “But I am always hoping to have the performance in the pocket.” 

Pascal Wehrlein wins the Jakarta E-Prix
Jakarta marked Porsche’s first win since March, when da Costa won the Cape Town E-Prix. (Image credit: @PorscheFormulaE on Twitter)

Now that he’s back in the lead, the Porsche driver doesn’t plan on doing anything different to what he’s been doing so far. “Honestly, it’s just about getting everything together, maximising your weekends, being faultless and having the focus on getting the job done,” he shared. “I think there’s no secret. I think all of us can win. It’s very close, it’s very tight, and all of us have won races this season, so we are all capable of winning the championship as well.” He added: 

“It’s just about extracting everything from the packages in the last five races and outscoring the others.” 

Looking ahead

Five rounds remain of the 2023 season. The next round takes place in Portland, followed by two double-headers in Rome and London respectively. Whilst the teams are familiar with Rome and London, Portland is a brand new track — and consequently, a bit of an unknown.

Where does Porsche hope to be strong? “Hopefully everywhere,” says Wehrlein. “Portland is a bit more unknown, as we don’t know the track and we don’t have experience there.”

“I’m looking forward to Rome,” Wehrlein added. “It’s one of my favourite tracks on the calendar. I think London will be very different compared to the past now with the Gen3 cars. I’m looking forward to all of the tracks. But a bit of a question mark is definitely Portland — but I guess for everyone.”

A marginal lead

The other big winner in Jakarta, so far as the championship is concerned, was Jake Dennis. The Brit enjoyed back-to-back P2 finishes, having challenged Wehrlein for the win in the first Jakarta race.

Dennis’ fortunes are improving, after having survived the rough seas of the mid-season. For a time, it’d seemed like Dennis’ hopes of a championship might be over with. But, come the second round of the Berlin double-header, things began to improve for the Avalanche Andretti driver. He’s recovered nicely from his spell of point-less finishes and is now on a podium streak that has spanned four races thus far.

The Porsche powertrain seems to have come alive again, and once more Wehrlein and Dennis are neck-and-neck in the championship bid. Just a single point separates Dennis and Wehrlein. With the unknown variable that is Portland up next on the race calendar, we could see the championship battle go in favour of either driver — or neither.

Because whilst Cassidy has lost his hold on the championship lead, he’s by no means out of the running. The Envision driver is comfortably third in the standings, five points behind Dennis. Should the Portland circuit favour the Jaguar powertrain over Porsche, we could see Cassidy reclaim his championship lead.

Featured Image Credit: Simon Galloway / Formula E Media Bank

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