"Hard to take" - Next setback for Mortara after tyre slash by Maserati teammate Günther in Portland
The totally screwed-up 2023 Formula E season has reached a new low for Edoardo Mortara. The third overall in 2022 and runner-up in 2021 retired from the Portland E-Prix in a promising position shortly before the finish with a puncture. This was triggered by contact with his Maserati teammate Maximilian Günther, of all people, who finished the race in sixth place. But even the German could have achieved more in the USA.
After battling for podium positions for a long time, Günther was forced off the track by Sam Bird on lap 28 and lost several positions (Bird received a penalty for the action). The German fought his way back to the front. In the process, however, he had contact with his teammate Mortara on the way to the chicane at the end of the back straight.
While Günther was able to continue and passed Bird again shortly afterwards, Mortara suffered a puncture on the right rear. The Swiss had to drive across the grass and then headed for the pits, where he abandoned the race. There was no investigation of the incident by the race stewards. While Mortara retired for the fifth time in the twelfth race of the season, Günther ended up sixth, securing eight more points for the team.
"It's hard to take," says Mortara. "Although qualifying didn't go our way, there were still plenty of opportunities because of the way the race went. In the final laps, Max tried to overtake me in turn 10. His wing slashed my right rear wheel and I had to retire with a flat tyre. At that point I was sixth, and I know we could have achieved more."
Team principal Rossiter: "A little mistake that cost points"
Already last year, an intra-team collision between the two Venturi drivers - now Maserati MSG Racing - in the closing stages of the Monaco E-Prix cost important points. However, compared to the rants of the then team chief Jerome d'Ambrosio, this time everyone involved reacted to the incident in a much more relaxed manner.
"Unfortunately, we have to leave Portland with mixed feelings," described team principle James Rossiter. "On the one hand, it was good to bring home another solid points haul. But on the other hand, it was very frustrating to miss out on a strong result for both our cars. Unfortunately, Max made contact with Edo's right rear tyre in the final laps, which caused a puncture - a small mistake that cost points."
Giovanni Sgro, Head of Maserati Corse, also thinks: "It was great to see that both drivers were consistently in the top 5. Max scored important points for the championship with his sixth place, and Edo was doing very well before his puncture. We need to keep our momentum from Jakarta going to the next race in Rome, Maserati's home race."
Günther: "A good weekend for us"
On the other side of the Maserati garage, however, things continue to go well. Even though Max Günther didn't quite match his stellar performance in Jakarta in Portland, he was always up front and might have finished on the podium had it not been for the Bird collision. "A good weekend for us," he himself agrees. "We drove an intelligent race and were in a strong position in 4th place until a few laps from the end."
"Unfortunately, I was pushed onto the grass by a competitor, which caused me to lose a few positions and fall behind," he says, describing the accident with the Jaguar driver. "I was then in 9th place, but in the end I still had good energy and a good pace, so I was able to make up some places and finished in 6th place - a solid position with good points."
Günther sits seventh in the Formula E World Championship standings with 78 points after the Portland E-Prix. Mortara, on the other hand, is only 18th with just 17 points. In the team s'standings, Maserati managed to consolidate sixth place and extend its lead over McLaren. Next on the schedule is the Rome E-Prix on July 15 and 16 - a home race for Mortara, who also has Italian citizenship. Perhaps that will be the time when he finally breaks the camel's back.