Formula E

Bird slashes Wehrlein's tyre & reduces his title chances: "That was the end of the day"

Timo Pape

Timo Pape

It was a poor Formula E race Sunday for Pascal Wehrlein. After the German failed early on in qualifying with previously undetected damage, Sam Bird slashed his tyre in the race. Wehrlein dropped to the back of the field and was left empty-handed. A serious setback in the championship fight, because main rival Nick Cassidy scored a lot of points again. Wehrlein is correspondingly served.

As Porsche team principal Florian Modlinger revealed shortly before the race, Wehrlein had already had to deal with a problem in qualifying: a collision with Oliver Rowland in turn 1 on Saturday had caused some damage to his Porsche, which had affected the balance of the car and had not been discovered before qualifying. As a result, Wehrlein only started from 13th place - his worst grid position of the year.

"The car didn't have a good balance in practice and qualifying today," says Wehrlein. "The grip wasn't right either. After qualifying, we found the problem and fixed it for the race - it was the result of a contact yesterday."

However, things hardly got any better. Wehrlein didn't really make much progress in the race and was just outside the top 10 for long stretches, before being involved in an accident through no fault of his own: Sam Bird misjudged his braking on lap 12 and made slight contact with the front wing of the Porsche in front of him - but with enough force to slash Wehrlein's left rear tyre.

The German then had to come into the pits to have his tyre changed. As a result, he dropped to the back of the field and finished the race in 20th place with no chance for points. Race control looked at the scene, but ruled it a "racing accident" and did not penalise Bird.

"I was able to move up a few positions in the race before someone hit me at the back and caused a puncture. That was the end of the day for me", Wehrlein laments. Team principal Modlinger says: "I'm sorry for Pascal, who didn't score any points today. Yesterday he was still an excellent second, today he quickly moved up into the Top 10 after P13 until he suffered a puncture due to contact through no fault of his own."

No statement from McLaren

Bird makes no reference to the collision in the McLaren press release: "Although it's great to be back in the car and great to know that my hand can tackle racing at a tricky and demanding circuit, it was a bit wounding to come away with no points on my side of the garage." McLaren did not issue an apology or anything similar.

While Wehrlein came away empty-handed, championship leader Nick Cassidy once again scored double-digit points in fourth place and extended his lead over second-placed Wehrlein to 25 points. A first small preliminary decision in the title fight? There are still four races to go, but Cassidy was a strong performer last year in both Portland and London. Wehrlein will have to hope that the Jaguar driver retires and win himself at the same time in order to get back on level terms.

Wehrlein still has five weeks until the Portland E-Prix to prepare for his final offensive of the season. The double-header in the USA takes place on 29 and 30 June.

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