"Tried every possible setup" - McLaren & Nissan pointless in Berlin, car updates before Monaco?
Rene Rast missed out on points at his home race in Berlin. The same happened to McLaren teammate Jake Hughes and Nissan factory drivers Sacha Fenestraz and Norman Nato. McLaren and Nissan are thus the only teams not to take any points home from Tempelhof. As they explain, the lack of success had been due to the track conditions in Tempelhof, but apparently also to vehicle updates that could not be completed by Berlin.
The tarmac in Berlin-Tempelhof is very special - instead of asphalt, as in most other Formula E races, the cars race over concrete slabs. Due to this very rough surface, the grip level in Berlin is different than on other tracks. This is not to the liking of every vehicle.
For McLaren, the Berlin concrete was apparently not a good basis: "We knew that Berlin is a track with very little grip. Basically, the less grip, the worse for us," Hughes said in 'The Race's' Formula E podcast. Accordingly, McLaren, which had been particularly convincing in qualifying at the first races of the season, had to charge through the field from the back in Berlin.
But even that was only moderately successful. On Saturday, Rene Rast was involved in one of the many collisions and collided with Sergio Sette Camara in the Nio 333. In the process, the 36-year-old damaged his car and also received a penalty as he was deemed responsible for causing the collision. After that, he was trailing behind hopelessly. On Sunday, Rast initially missed Free Practice after a problem and went into qualifying on a wet track with virtually no preparation.
For the race, McLaren had split their strategy strongly in the extremes in the hope of still being able to drive in the points. Rast suffered from the team's very conservative race strategy for him. "In the end, we simply weren't fast enough," summed up the man from Minden.
Hughes: "No mechanical problem"
This affected not only Rast, however, but also Hughes and the other two Nissan cars. "We really tried every possible setup change, but nothing worked. The thing we need to improve on is not a mechanical problem," Hughes says, possibly alluding to the Nissan drivetrain itself.
"I said in the Sao Paulo debrief that it looks like the other teams have made a step forward." In particular, the Briton claims to have noticed improvements by the Stellantis Group cars DS Penske and Maserati MSG: "They weren't performing so well until Cape Town either, and then all of a sudden Stoffel (Vandoorne) is on pole, and Max (Günther) and JEV (Jean-Eric Vergne) are up front as well."
Nissan principal Volpe: "Could not bring all the upgrades"
This begs the question of when an update can be expected for Nissan and McLaren respectively. According to Nissan team boss Tommaso Volpe, one should have already been installed for Berlin. "Unfortunately though, we were not able to bring all the upgrades as planned at this event. We believe that made a difference, especially in direct comparison with the other teams. That makes the lack of pace even more frustrating."
It remains to be hoped from McLaren's and Nissan's point of view that the updates will be ready by the next race in Monaco. Because even though a very different, smoother asphalt with higher grip awaits them there, without improvements to the car, it could be another difficult race on May 6.
They say "a picture is worth a thousand words," and this one sums up the #BerlinEPrix weekend pretty well...- Nissan NISMO (@NISMO) April 23, 2023
Next stop Monaco - home race for @NatoNorman & a track @SachaFenestraz has enjoyed in the past! ?⚡️?@Nissan @NissanDE #NissanFormulaE #FeelElectric pic.twitter.com/fVawp2GbMs