Championship leads gone for Porsche: Puncture for Felix da Costa, Wehrlein struggles with Attack Mode & balance
After an excellent start to the 2023 season, Pascal Wehrlein and Porsche are no longer the hunted in Formula E. The negative trend of recent weeks continued at the Monaco E-Prix, especially for Wehrlein. Antonio Felix da Costa, on the other hand, plowed furiously through the field, but then had bad luck with a puncture, which took away his chance of a good result.
After the almost traditionally disappointing qualifying of the two Porsche works drivers, Felix da Costa only started the race from 19th place. However, the 2021 Monaco winner was not discouraged by this and fought his way up to eighth place. He overtook his teammate Wehrlein, who had started further ahead, early on.
Shortly before the halfway point of the race, the two Porsche drivers came into slight contact, with Wehrlein losing part of his front wing. Both were able to continue. But then Felix da Costa was hit again: A competitor drove into the rear of his Porsche 99X Electric. This damaged his right rear tire. The Portuguese had to pit and dropped back. In the end, he crossed the finish line in 15th place.
"It was a tough day for us," said Felix da Costa. "In qualifying I made a mistake and had to start from far back as a result. In the race, I was able to fight my way through the field from lap to lap and had a top-5 position in sight when I was hit and had to get a new right rear tire in the pits. That was the end of the race for me."
"After getting stronger and stronger in the first half of the season, we came to Monaco with great expectations. Unfortunately, they were not fulfilled. But we will create more chances, which we hope to take advantage of," said Felix da Costa. Even though the Season 6 champion left Monaco without any points: His trendline continues to point upward. Good results are only a matter of time.
Wehrlein loses ground due to Attack Mode & balance problems
The trend is the other way around for Pascal Wehrlein. After the German had collected a strong 80 points in the first four races of the season, only 21 points were added in the five races thereafter. Wehrlein also had a bad day in Monaco, although he also lacked the necessary race luck in some moments.
After a difficult qualifying session, the 28-year-old started from 12th place. After six laps, he was in eighth place in the points before losing positions due to the activation of his Attack Mode. He also complained of balance problems on his Porsche. In the final phase, he overtook a few more competitors and eventually finished eleventh.
Due to a subsequent penalty against Sam Bird, he still inherited 10th place and thus a championship point - still too little in the championship battle. Especially since Jake Dennis, in third place in the race, showed what was possible with the (customer) Porsche.
"We had hoped for more in Monaco and are disappointed that we were unable to show the true potential of our car," Wehrlein knows. Besides, his competitors are stronger than ever. "It was the expected tough race. We now have to get back to our strengths and return to the performance we have shown so often this year."
Porsche isn't writing off title: "Still many races & many points to take"
Wehrlein has lost the world championship lead for the time being. Currently, he is still in 2nd position, but is already 20 points behind the currently outstanding Nick Cassidy. Dennis and Mitch Evans are pushing from behind (see Formula E championship standings). Wehrlein nevertheless remains optimistic: "The second half of the season has only just begun. There are still many races and many points to be gained. We will continue to work hard, and I am confident that we will be able to achieve better results again in the next races."
Porsche also had to let Jaguar customer team Envision Racing by in the team standings. Are both world championship titles now in jeopardy? Florian Modlinger shares Wehrlein's opinion: "There are still seven races to go. We are in the championship fight and will work hard to bring home significantly more points again in the next races."
At the double-header in Jakarta in a month's time (June 3 and 4), everything should be better for Porsche. Last year, however, the Indonesian capital was Jaguar territory - Mitch Evans won the E-Prix. Porsche will have to step it up a notch to beat the strong competition from Envision and Jaguar once again.