"Chance probably gone" - Wehrlein suffers hand injury & squanders last hope for Formula E title
Pascal Wehrlein suffered a slight injury to his hand at the Hankook Rome E-Prix of Formula E. Although the Porsche driver was still able to finish the race in seventh place on Sunday, he scored too few points compared to world championship leader and Rome winner Jake Dennis to seriously keep his hopes of winning the 2023 title alive. Two mistakes from Antonio Felix da Costa put his employer behind regarding the team championship.
Already in lap 2 it crashed once again in Rome: At the front of the field Mitch Evans braked to late and rose at the car of Nick Cassidy. The accident created a concertina effect in the braking zone before turn 7, which led to several rear-end collisions. One of the unlucky ones was Pascal Wehrlein, who crashed into the car in front of him. In that situation, the German slightly injured his hand.
"The hand hurts, of course, but it's fine, I think. I was cooling it a lot," Wehrlein told e-Formula.news, explaining how it happened: "I only saw the traffic jam and had no chance to swerve. I got the steering wheel against my hand, as so many have this year." He is thus alluding to the hand fractures suffered by Robin Frijns and Sebastien Buemi, for which very similar rear-end collisions were the cause.
Wehrlein: "Focusing on the team championship now"
In the end, Wehrlein finished seventh in pain. Probably good under the circumstances, but definitely too little in the fight for the championship. Wehrlein is now a full 49 points behind rival Jake Dennis ahead of the London E-Prix - with a maximum of 58 points still for the grapes. Wehrlein would actually have to win both races to even be able to overtake Dennis. But only if Brit were to come away empty-handed on one of his best tracks in front of his home crowd.
"The chance of the drivers' championship is probably gone," Wehrlein acknowledges. "You never know, but first and foremost we need to improve our qualifying performance. It has really been decisive in recent weeks." On Rome Sunday, Wehrlein only started the race only from 15th place, while his title rivals all took up the start from the first two rows. "We're focusing on the team championship now!"
For the overall teams' standings, Wehrlein at least scored six points with his seventh place. "We'll see at the end of the season how important the points were," says the 28-year-old. "I always try to get the maximum out of it - even (if that means) still bringing home the points with a bit of hand pain."
Di Grassi pissed at Felix da Costa: "He tried to push me into the wall"
His teammate Antonio Felix da Costa could not contribute to the joint Porsche goal on Sunday. First, the Portuguese misjudged the braking point in turn 7, through which he lost some positions. "I was fighting with Andre (Lotterer) and just braked to late," Felix da Costa explained to e-Formula.news. "I had to take a bit more risk to overtake, unfortunately that went wrong."
Later, the Porsche driver came under negative focus a second time when he sent Lucas di Grassi into the barrier. "I tried to attack him on the inside lane. But when our wheels touched, I lost the steering wheel and pushed him a bit wide," said Felix da Costa, describing the situation that ended di Grassi's race early.
"He went onto the inside lane in turn 8," di Grassi explained his view of the accident to e-Formula.news. "I gave him space, but at the exit of the corner he tried to push me into the wall on the outside. I had nowhere to go, so I ended up in the TecPro barrier. The front right suspension bent. That was the end of my race."
Felix da Costa: "Accept this penalty & will apologise"
For his misjudgement, Felix da Costa received a 5-second time penalty retrospectively. "I accept this penalty and will apologise for it," the 31-year-old said. In the end, he only finished twelfth and thus contributed no points to the Porsche account. Nevertheless, he believes, "If we both score points (in London), the team championship is certainly within reach."
In fact, however, Porsche lost ground in Rome. After Envision took the championship lead from the German manufacturer on Saturday, the Jaguar customer team actually extended its lead to 14 points on Sunday. At the last two races in London (July 29/30), Porsche definitely has to step it up a notch to be able to make the dream of the world championship title come true. The drivers' championship has most likely already been lost in Rome.