Formula E

Racing premiere in the Cascades: Your questions about the Formula E race in Portland 2023 answered

Tobias Bluhm

Tobias Bluhm

Portland-Oregon-White-Stag-Sign

An annual stop for a race in the USA has been a tradition in Formula E since 2015. This year, the electric series travels to the state of Oregon in the northwest of the country for the first time: At the Portland E-Prix, a permanent, bumpy racetrack from the IndyCar calendar awaits the Formula E drivers. No missteps are allowed as the championship turn on the final stretch of the season, especially in the title fight.

Only six points separate the top three drivers in the overall standings: Thanks to his victory in Jakarta, Pascal Wehrlein (Porsche) is once again in front with 134 points, but lurking right behind him with 133 points is his long-term rival Jake Dennis (Andretti). And Nick Cassidy (Envision, 128) and Mitch Evans (Jaguar, 109) also still have a good shot at the title.

The circumstances of a race course that is completely new to everyone will add further interesting components to the title fight. In the battle for victory, making the least amount of mistakes and adaptability are likely to become decisive. The top drivers cannot afford any faults if they are to remain part of the championship race across the final two race weekends in Rome and London. We answer the most important questions from the E-Prix in the USA.

Where exactly will the Formula E race take place in the U.S.?

After editions in Miami, Long Beach and New York City, Formula E will travel to Portland for the first time next weekend. The town in the northwestern United States lies in the shadow of Mount Hood, the fourth highest mountain in the Cascade Range at 3,425 meters. Founded as a settlement in the 1840s, Portland quickly grew to become an important transshipment point for goods traded by sea due to its harbor. The Willamette and Columbia rivers flow through the city.

A river island on the Columbia River, about ten kilometers north of downtown Portland, is also home to the Formula E track. The electric series uses the "Portland International Raceway," which opened in 1961 and has been used repeatedly by the IndyCar Series in past decades.

Fast Facts | Portland

  • Portland owes its name to a coin toss: Up for discussion at the time was "Boston" in addition to the current name. The city's two founding fathers decided to toss a coin to name their settlement.
  • Formula E is committed to improving the climate, an important part of which includes how and what people eat. It's fitting, then, that Forbes magazine named Portland the best U.S. city for vegetarians and vegans in 2020.
  • Mills Ends Park in Portland has officially been the smallest park on Earth since 1971. It is located on a traffic island in the city center and has a diameter of just 61 centimeters.
  • The Portlandia statue, which depicts a woman crouching on a pedestal and dressed in an ancient style, is the second largest copper sculpture in the United States. Only the Statue of Liberty in New York, near the Formula E race location until 2022, is larger.
  • The state of Oregon, where Portland is located, is nicknamed the "Beaver State". The rodents can reach a speed of about 10 kph in the water and would thus be able to complete a Formula E lap in Portland in a little more than 19 minutes.

Who broadcasts the Formula E race in Portland on TV & Livestream?

In Portland, unlike the remaining race weekends in the 2023 season, only one race will take place. Formula E fans in Europe, however, will have to put in a night shift due to the large time difference: The race will start on Saturday night at 2:00 CEST.

Session Date Day Start TV/Stream Session End TV/Stream TV station/Website
Free Practice 1 24 June 2023 Saturday 01:55 02:00-02:30 02:45 e-Formel.de
Free Practice 2 24 June 2023 Saturday 19:25 19:30-20:00 20:15 e-Formel.de
Qualifying 24 June 2023 Saturday 21:30 21:40-22:40 22:55 depending on your country
Race 25 June 2023 Sunday 01:30 02:03-03:00 03:30 depending on your country


* all timings in Central European Summer Time (CEST)

What distinguishes the race track in Portland?

The Portland International Raceway opened in 1961 and has since been modified several times by the IndyCar Series (or its predecessor, CART). Following a brief coronavirus-related interruption, the track in the state of Oregon with its twelve turns has been back on the IndyCar calendar annually since 2021. In direct comparison to the US-based championship, Formula E will be making two adjustments to the layout: The angles of turns 1 and 7 will be changed. This will increase the track length to 3.221 kilometers.

The end of the long start/finish straight in particular lends itself to overtaking for the drivers. But also turn 7, where the attack zone will be located on the outside line, looks inviting for one or the other maneuver. Apart from that, the long, bumpy straights provide plenty of opportunities to save energy in the slipstream of the car in front, which could once again make the E-Prix a decidedly tactical race.

What has happened since the last race in Jakarta?

Mahindra Racing announced the decision to field one of its cars in Portland again with Roberto Merhi. The Spaniard should thus also be set for the races in Rome and London, since by regulation no more driver changes are allowed in the final three events of a season.

Jehan Daruvala will therefore have to wait a little longer for his first race appearance, but could at least gain a few more experiences as part of rookie practice session in Italy. The first participants are publicly know already.

The Tuesday before the Portland E-Prix is also expected to see the release of the Formula E calendar for 2024. The FIA World Motor Sport Council is expected to decide on next year's itinerary at its quarterly meeting. Part of the calendar are likely to be new events in Malaga and Tokyo.

In what order do the drivers go into qualifying?

In Formula E, qualifying takes place in two parts: Group Stage and Knockout Stage. For group qualifying, the field is first split into two halves, with all drivers in the odd championship places (places 1, 3, 5, 7, etc.) competing in group A, and those in the even places in group B.

The four drivers in each group who were able to set the fastest lap times after twelve minutes will then move into the quarter-finals, where they will duel it out for the best grid positions from then on. For the Portland E-Prix, this results in the following composition for the qualifying groups.

What will be the weather in Portland?

Portland is located on a similar latitude as Zagreb or Geneva. Accordingly, the weather is similar compared to Central Europe: Meteorologists expect temperatures of a pleasant 27 degrees Celsius and dry weather. Especially in the morning hours, however, it should be comparatively cool with twelve degrees Celsius.

Who are the favorites?

In the U.S., there will hardly be a way past the frontrunners in the drivers' world championship: Wehrlein, Dennis, Cassidy and Evans are likely to fight for victory once again. The decisive factor, however, will be how quickly they adapt to the new, unfamiliar conditions in Portland. Driving errors or accidents in the two just 30-minute long practice sessions could cost them dearly. On the other hand, fast learners could pull away from their rivals because of the special circumstances.

Because no drivers can draw on prior experience in Portland, teams and drivers rate the balance of power as very even. Nuances such as the clever use of attack modes or driving in the slipstream could thus make the difference between victory and defeat. Mix these circumstances with the great importance of the Portland E-Prix in the title fight, and you can look forward to a really exciting weekend in the USA!

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