Porsche vs. Andretti: non-aggression pact between manufacturer & customer team causes heated debate
Andretti driver Jake Dennis is fighting for the drivers' championship, Porsche for the team title. That's how simple the starting position seemed before Saturday's Formula E race in London. Porsche and its customer team Andretti had agreed a kind of non-aggression pact in advance. In the heat of the moment, however, things turned out differently. The duel between Dennis and Pascal Wehrlein enraged not only the two drivers...
Dennis didn't get a good start at the Hankook London E-Prix, but was able to keep up with the two Envision drivers ahead of him. Nevertheless, this left him in the middle of the pack in the top 5, with Dennis repeatedly battling for positions with the Porsche works cars of Pascal Wehrlein and Antonio Felix da Costa. Yet both teams had actually decided on scenarios for a non-aggression pact in a strategy meeting before the race.
"The strategy was that I was not allowed to attack Jake as long as Cassidy was in front of him," Wehrlein described the Porsche plan to e-Formula.news. "When he (Cassidy) had the problem with his car, the opposite was actually true: Then the focus was on us (Porsche factory team) and the teams' championship. Still, I had to fight hard to get past him."
Dennis: "Had hoped for a bit more support"
Dennis, for whom his first world championship title was at stake, repeatedly complained loudly about Wehrlein on the radio during the race, while he was stuck behind his Porsche colleague from Germany for several laps. In his opinion, Wehrlein had not kept to the agreements. "We thought we started the race with a certain agreement, but it didn't turn out as we had hoped," Dennis told e-Formula.news.
"In this stressful situation, I was actually hoping for a bit more support. That (what Wehrlein did) didn't really help much. The fact that we've now managed to do it on our own makes it all even sweeter," says the new Formula E world champion.
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During the race, Porsche team principal Florian Modlinger was asked about the manufacturer-customer team relationship. "We were fighting for the top positions with Pascal and Jake on the Andretti side. We raced for the team championship, Jake for the drivers' title, and we tried as best we could to support each other," the German described. "We are in contact every lap and sorted out these topics just in time." His counterpart at Andretti, team principal Roger Griffiths, also had his say on TV's world signal and spoke indirectly - yet unequivocally - that he would like to see a little more support from Porsche.
Porsche needs a little miracle for the title
The drivers' world championship may have already been decided, but it's still all or nothing for the teams on Sunday. After the collision of Wehrlein with Rene Rast and the post race penalty against Antonio Felix da Costa, Porsche suddenly is on the backfoot. Jaguar and Envision are tied (!) at the top of the teams' championship before the final race of the season. Porsche ranks 27 points behind. And even Andretti is only five points behind the factory team, although the U.S. crew has virtually contested the season with just one driver - Andre Lotterer contributed a meager 23 points to the tally (236).
A maximum of 47 points can still be scored by Porsche on Sunday should Wehrlein and/or Felix da Costa take pole position, positions 1 and 2 in the race, and the fastest lap. But even then, Jaguar or Envision must only score a maximum of 19 points with their two drivers to win the title. In other words, if a Jaguar or Envision driver wins, Porsche can definitely write off the world championship. But even if they don't, the championship is unrealistic for the Germans - the Jaguar cars seem to be too strong on the track in London.
At the moment, however, the outcome of a Porsche protest against the race result is still pending. The decision is to be made by 11:30 am at the latest. Racing will start again at 6 pm (CEST) with the final round of the 2023 Formula E season. At 11:30 am, the 3rd free practice session already starts, which we'll be showing in a free livestream.
additional coverage by Tobias Bluhm