Pascal Wehrlein and António Félix Da Costa from the TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team share their insight into the championship and how it can bring about change beyond the tracks. Joezer Mandagi reports.
The 2022–23 ABB FIA Formula E World Championship has just ended, with the two last races—the 15th and 16th—taking place in London on July 29 and 30 in London. For most motorsport fans in Indonesia, however, the most memorable races were probably the 10th and 11th that took place at the Jakarta International e-Prix Circuit on June 3 and 4, and which ended with the TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team in the lead. And several days before the events that would lead to Pascal Wehrlein moving up to first place in drivers’ standings and his teammate António Félix da Costa secure the team’s victory, DA MAN had the opportunity to chat with the two racers.
Between the two of them, Pascal and António share several decades worth of experience in the world of motorsports. Pascal is best known for his 2016 debut in Formula 1 and, before that, for his victory in the 2015 Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters. António, meanwhile, has established himself as one of Portugal’s most accomplished racing drivers through victories at, among others, the GP3 Series Championship and the Macau Grand Prix invitational.
What then, drew these two amazing racers to the world of Formula E?
“For me, the best thing about Formula E is the quality of performance across the whole field,” Pascal begins. “When I was driving in Formula 1, there was a gap of three to four seconds between the first team and the last. Driving in Formula E, I quickly noticed that—at maximum—there is a half second gap between the best and the worst. I think that this is a very fair environment.” The 28-year-old German-Mauritian racing driver also mentioned how he enjoyed speeding in a single-seater with an open cockpit amid street circuits in major cities and how fast the technology advances.
Picking up on the technology angle, António shares his thoughts about the advances in – and brought about by – Formula E. “Another great thing about Formula E is the development of technology that we’re seeing and how this technology is eventually pushed to the streets,” he elaborates. “Now we can really feel a big connection between the manufacturers of the road cars and the racing departments. This has become like a testing ground and showcasing ground for them, to show to the public how electric cars are fast, how the range of these cars are increasing. They’re sexy now; we are making vastly sexier and beautiful electric cars now. You know, for Porsche to be involved in this electric championship is insane. It really shows you where the world is going, and it’s great to be a part of that. And then there’s the growth: We were nothing nine years ago and now we are making a name for ourselves, creating history in Formula E.”
António then continues: “The development of technology is, for sure, the number one gamechanger. And with that, more manufacturers have become attracted. When we started nine years ago, you had glimpses of manufacturers becoming involved, like Renault and Audi. But they were just dipping their toes into the water then. Now you can really see how involved every manufacturer is; how much they throw at Formula E and how much they take back. To see the progression and the growth of the series is insane for me.”
While the march of technology has been a constant driving force for Formula E—for instance, this season sees the debut of the Formula E Gen3 car—at the end of the day, it all boils down to the racers and the team behind them. “Obviously getting along well with your teammate is a great thing and a very important part of the process. You can still win if you don’t but it’s a much harder way to get there. So, I always enjoy getting on well with my whole team,” António observes.
“From race to race, we improve together with the team as we grow together and fight for the same goal,” Pascal notes, before adding: “It’s a lot of fun to be in the car. That’s the best part of it: to actually race. We want to be better every day and it’s all about constant progress and improvement. We never stop learning.”
And last but definitely not least, there’s a fair share of physical and mental fortitude that comes into play. Or, as TAG Heuer puts it: #DontCrackUnderPressure. “It’s perfect, that exactly sums everything up in four words: Don’t Crack Under Pressure,” António concludes when the famous motto was brought up. “It’s exactly what we have to do. And it’s a mental sport as well. Actually, every sport is mental, and that’s what makes it fun. You know, if there’s pressure, it means that it’s important.”
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