Porsche wants to build on Mexico success of 2022, ABT Cupra wait-and-see ahead of Formula E comeback
Porsche returns to the scene of its greatest success this weekend: Mexico City. At the 2023 Formula E season opener, the German factory team wants to take its one-two finish from around a year ago as a model and get off to a good start in the new Gen3 era. The second German team, ABT Cupra, is also traveling to Mexico with much anticipation.
Last year, Porsche celebrated a double victory on the challenging Grand Prix circuit, which runs through the Foro Sol baseball stadium, among other places: Pascal Wehrlein, who took pole position back then and the first Formula E victory for Porsche ahead of teammate Andre Lotterer, is also involved this time in the Porsche 99X Electric Gen3 with the starting number 94. His new teammate Antonio Felix da Costa, on the other hand, is contesting his first race for the sports car manufacturer.
"I like this pre-season excitement and I'm super excited," says Felix da Costa. "With this brand, there is only one goal: winning races. I'm relaxed about my Porsche debut in Mexico. What's important is how we finish the season, not how we start it. I'm happy with my new car. I think we're definitely competitive with it."
Team-mate Wehrlein has traditionally always been strong in Mexico and can hardly wait for the E-Prix: "I'm really looking forward to the fact that we can now race again and compete with the other teams. Our new car has a lot of potential."
His boss, Florian Modlinger, thinks back fondly to the 2022 Mexico City E-Prix: "The team showed what it is capable of with the double victory. We need to deliver this performance more consistently in the future. We're approaching the start in Mexico with confidence and optimism. We also want to clinch victories this season and compete for the world title right to the end."
Porsche stacks up deep for season start
Still, Wehrlein is piling it rather deep: "We're still at the very beginning. At the test in Valencia, we faced many challenges because a lot of things are new with the Gen3 cars, such as a second powertrain. The tire manufacturer is also new. But at the same time, that opens up a lot of opportunities for us to improve. I expect us to make big steps forward over the course of the season," Wehrlein said.
With all eleven Formula E teams starting the new season on more or less the same technical footing, Modlinger, overall Formula E project manager at Porsche, expects exciting and fiercely contested races. "With these cars, the cards will be reshuffled in the world championship. We won't know where we stand in terms of performance until after qualifying."
"A good start to the season is always extremely important," he stresses nonetheless. "The better you start a season, the greater the chance of creating positive momentum and riding an emotional wave that carries you to further successes."
ABT Cupra cautions, "Must take it one step at a time"
The German ABT team is approaching the start of the season in a similar way - but with considerably less testing experience. The team from Kempten, Germany, is returning to Formula E as a customer team of Mahindra after a year's break and has also secured carmaker Cupra as title sponsor. On the driver side, ABT has signed Nico Müller and veteran Robin Frijns.
"We didn't spend much time in the race car before this season, so the season opener in Mexico will certainly be a big challenge for our team," Frijns admits. "We have to take it step by step. But if we don't make any mistakes and the car plays along, we are also in a position to race for good points," said the 31-year-old Dutchman.
Nico Müller drove for ABT in the DTM from 2016 to 2020 and completed 17 races for the Dragon team in the sixth and seventh Formula E seasons. The 30-year-old Swiss is looking forward to his comeback: "Mexico is the perfect place for the season opener. The atmosphere with the enthusiastic people there is unique - especially in the stadium, where you can even hear the fans in the race car. The preparation is always too short for a race driver - nevertheless, we are looking forward to starting the new era of Formula E now."
Hans-Jürgen Abt, CEO of ABT SE, is already celebrating the first success before the race weekend: "The fact that we are competing with two cars in Mexico is already like a small victory for us: since the finale of the seventh season (2021), we have been working with combined forces to return to Formula E with our team." That's worked out before.
How Porsche and ABT perform in Mexico will be revealed at the latest at the race on Saturday evening at 9 p.m. German time. e-Formel.de will accompany the E-Prix as usual with a live ticker, streams and numerous reports.