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The lightning-quick Cape Town circuit makes its Formula E debut this weekend.
With 13 turns and spanning 2.921 km, the Cape Town track is expected to be one of the fastest on the calendar. It’ll be another challenge for the drivers to grapple with as they continue to settle into the Gen3 cars.
We’re five rounds into the season and have had three different winners so far: Jake Dennis, Pascal Wehrlein and Jean-Eric Vergne. Will one of these familiar faces return to the top step of the podium, or will a new victor emerge? Let’s take a look at some of the key talking points ahead of this weekend’s race.
Porsche lead the championship
Porsche asserted itself in Hyderabad as the championship leader. A fourth place finish for Pascal Wehrlein allowed him to extend his championship lead, whilst Antonio Felix Da Costa scored his first podium for the German team.
With customer team Avalanche Andretti hot on their heels, Porsche goes into the weekend searching for another victory.
Team principal Florian Modlinger believes Porsche is more than capable of picking up their third win of the season. “We had a sensational start to the season and we’ve demonstrated that our Porsche 99X Electric is capable of winning on different racetracks,” said Modlinger.
Despite this success, Modlinger notes that the team must not grow complacent. “There’s still potential in the overall package,” he said. “We have to tap into that.” He added:
“The situation can change quickly because the learning curve with the new cars is still very steep. That’s why we must ensure that our package continues to evolve from race to race.”
Though both drivers had strong results in Hyderabad, the weekend was anything but straightforward for the team. Wehrlein suffered a major shunt in Free Practice 1, thankfully walking away unharmed. But the incident meant the precautionary decision was made for all Porsche factory cars to sit out the remainder of the practice session.
Porsche still managed a podium and points, despite this early disadvantage. However, the team will undoubtedly be hoping for a much cleaner weekend — and a victory that will extend their championship lead that bit further.
ABT hoping for better results
The Hyderabad E-Prix saw yet another race without points for ABT Cupra. It’s been a rough start to the season for the team: multiple DNFs and an injured driver has left ABT languishing at the bottom of the constructor’s standings.
Speaking to Motorsport.com, Nico Müller opened up about the difficult start the team has had. “I have good hopes that we can have a very good second half of the season,” said Müller. “[The first few races have] been difficult. A little bit as expected to be honest. We knew that the first half of the season was going to be a learning process with the limited testing we had and the complicated Valencia [test].”
But there’s still time for the team to develop and turn the season around. Müller thinks they’re heading in the right direction with things. “I think we are understanding more and more about the car, the directions we can take,” said Müller. “We are exploring, we are still in a phase where we are taking very extreme steps in terms of set-up and software approach.
Meanwhile, Kelvin van der Linde continues to drive in the stead of Robin Frijns. Van der Linde, a native South African, thus finds himself driving a home race. Talking to Formula E, van der Linde said:
“This is a dream come true… We all hoped that Robin would be fit in time but of course, I will now give everything to represent him decently in Cape Town as well.”
He added, “It’s not the ideal circumstances to have a home race because I would obviously like to come in here a lot better prepared with a full season or a pre-season of preparation. But like I said I want to come in and I want to enjoy the week. I think there is a lot to show the South African fans.”
With Frijns expected to make his return at the São Paolo E-Prix in March, it might be van der Linde’s last chance to impress — and in front of a home crowd, no less. Will the South African be able to score some much-needed points for the team?
Can DS Penske do it again?
Jean-Eric Vergne emerged victorious at the Hyderabad E-Prix, securing a win for DS Penske. It looked to be an important step forward for the team, who prior to Hyderabad, hadn’t been getting the results they’d been hoping for.
Vergne seems positive about the team’s chances in Cape Town. “Clearly, we have made good progress,” he said, reflecting on the team’s success in Hyderabad. “We have to keep up this momentum but, to tell you the truth, I’m quite confident because I think we still have a lot of room for improvement. It’s up to us to keep working hard to get more results like this!”
Moments like this make all the hard work worth it 🏆
📸 @dppiimages #DSPENSKE#dsperformance #hyderabadeprix#abbformulae #motorsport pic.twitter.com/d2KIyMoi6i
— DS PENSKE FORMULA E TEAM (@ds_penske_fe) February 13, 2023
Stoffel Vandoorne might not be as optimistic as his teammate — but he is no less determined. The defending World Champion, who is yet to finish in the top five this season, set out areas for the whole team to improve on.
“We must… continue to progress because we lack regularity,” said Vandoorne. “Sometimes we are completely in on it, sometimes not so much. We have to work particularly hard on our qualifying practice because it would obviously make our life easier if we were better placed on the starting grid.”
Though Vandoorne finished eighth in Hyderabad, he had initially started from 17th. If the team nail qualifying in Cape Town, we could be seeing much better results from the defending World Champ.
Here’s when you can catch all the action in Cape Town:
- Free Practice 1 — Friday 24 February at 2:55 pm
- Free Practice 2 — Saturday 25 February at 7:05 am
- Qualifying — Saturday 25 February at 9:40 am
- Race — Saturday 25 February at 2:03 pm
Featured Image Credit: Channel 4