Formula E debut for David Beckmann became a baptism of fire: "He took me out of the race"
In the middle of the 2023 season, young German driver David Beckmann made his Formula E debut last weekend. As a substitute driver for the far more experienced Andre Lotterer, the 23-year-old contested the Jakarta E-Prix. Two accidents and many new insights accompanied his weekend, which he also wanted to use as an application for a regular cockpit in 2024.
For David Beckmann, the Jakarta E-Prix 2023 became a baptism of fire. Representing Andre Lotterer, who took part in the pre-test for the 24 Hours of Le Mans this weekend, the German drove his first two races in Formula E in Indonesia. In the shadow of Andretti teammate Jake Dennis, Beckmann remained pointless. Nevertheless, he looks back on his weekend with pride.
"I think I learned a lot this weekend and was able to keep improving. Thanks again to Andretti for the opportunity," he said after the race. "It was great to have a Formula E weekend with them. Jake (Dennis) had a great race. I'm very happy for the team and what they achieved here in Jakarta."
Beckmann rebukes engineer: "Let me do my thing!"
The constant comparison to Dennis may have been both a curse and a blessing for Beckmann. Because on the one hand, he got insights into the vehicle data from one of the most consistent and successful drivers of the Jakarta weekend. On the other hand, the comparison made Beckmann so uncomfortable in Sunday qualifying that he rebuked his engineer on the team radio and asked him to let him do "his thing."
"I'd rather use my own driving style, it works better," he said. "If I take the corners like Jake, I can't improve." Beckmann's engineer, Fabrice Roussel, agreed. Lo and behold, on the next attempt, Beckmann actually went a few tenths of a second faster. But he was nowhere near Dennis' level. While the Briton got hold of starting position 2, as he did on Saturday, Beckmann only reached 18th place.
Accidents with the veterans - "Could have gone much further forward"
In both Indonesian races Beckmann has had a collision. He clashed with Sebastien Buemi (Envision) as early as the start on Saturday, with the German losing part of his front wing. The FIA stewards assessed the crash as a racing accident. Beckmann must nevertheless accept the reproach that he could have been more cautious on his debut.
On Sunday, the 23-year-old was also involved in an accident with a Formula E veteran that was more or less not his fault: Lucas di Grassi collided with the German youngster in turn 16 while both were battling for 16th position. Di Grassi pushed Beckmann into the outer TecPro barrier, damaging the Andretti racer's right front suspension. Race retirement was inevitable: the U.S. team's mechanics had no choice but to push the car into the garage.
"I'm disappointed about the contact, of course," Beckmann said. "I gave Lucas enough space to avoid the contact, but it looked like he lost control and then touched me. Thus, he took me out of the race. Until then it looked quite good: I was able to make some good overtaking maneuvers, and we also looked strong from the energy point of view. I think we could have gone much further forward, maybe even into the top 10. Then some points would also have been possible."
For the time being, it remains to be seen whether Beckmann's Jakarta stint will result in a longer-term opportunity. Regular driver Lotterer is expected to return for the next Formula E race in Portland (June 24). However, he could finally vacate the seat for the 2024 season, although official confirmation of this is still pending. Beckmann is considered a possible candidate to succeed him - but who gets the nod is in the hands of Andretti's team boss Roger Griffiths.