Just six points separate the leading three drivers heading to America’s Pacific Northwest, as the chase for the Season 9 crown continues...
A new challenge awaits ABB FIA Formula E World Championship competitors this weekend (24 June), as Portland International Raceway prepares to welcome the pioneering all-electric single-seater series for the first time – with the North American metropolis ready to write the next chapter in an absorbing Gen3 title fight.
A city that shares the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship’s environmental ethos and strong sustainability credentials, Portland is set to stage the first E-Prix on America’s West Coast since Long Beach in California in 2016, as Portland International Raceway – a permanent circuit used regularly in IndyCar competition – becomes the fourth US track to welcome the championship. Its 3.19km, 12-turn layout is renowned for generating close and intense battles – another synergy with the series.
In characteristic Formula E fashion, the battle for glory in Season 9 has twisted and turned from one round to the next – testament to the championship’s ultra-competitive and fiercely-fought nature.
Last time out in Jakarta, TAG Heuer Porsche’s Pascal Wehrlein and Avalanche Andretti rival Jake Dennis – who had both been slipping down the standings following a dominant start to proceedings – reignited their title ambitions as they soared back to the top of the table, with the German triumphing for the first time since Saudi Arabia in January and the British driver bagging a brace of runner-up results.
After claiming back-to-back victories in Berlin and Monaco, Envision Racing’s Nick Cassidy – who looked to have seized the initiative in the chase for the crown, entering the Indonesian double-header holding a 20-point advantage over his nearest pursuer – has been demoted to third, with his trip to Southeast Asia yielding a solitary seventh-place finish.
Cassidy now sits six points adrift of Wehrlein in the overall classification and will be eager to regain the upper hand in Oregon, having won his first E-Prix on North American soil in New York last year.
Fellow New Zealander Mitch Evans battled back from a disappointing opening outing in Jakarta – when he was tipped into a spin by Jaguar TCS Racing stablemate Sam Bird – to tally his fourth podium finish of the 2022/23 campaign the next day, courtesy of a defensive masterclass that has kept him in the hunt for honours.
Two-time champion Jean-Éric Vergne is similarly still in contention in fifth for DS Penske, and the Frenchman has happy memories of competing in the USA, after clinching both of his career crowns in Brooklyn and capping his title-winning 2017-18 campaign there with a win. Former team-mate António Félix da Costa, – now driving for Porsche – prevailed in Formula E’s most recent race in the US last summer, and can never be counted out.
Maximilian Günther catapulted himself up the order and into the reckoning for Maserati MSG Racing in Indonesia. The German converted a brace of pole positions into the iconic Italian car maker’s first world championship single-seater victory since Juan-Manuel Fangio in 1957 with a dominant display on day two, having already reached the rostrum in third place 24 hours earlier.
Team-mate Edoardo Mortara also notched up his best results of Season 9 to-date in Jakarta, raising hopes of another successful weekend for the squad in the Pacific Northwest, while Frenchmen Sacha Fenestraz and Norman Nato similarly shone in Indonesia for Nissan Formula E Team. The pair took the chequered flag fourth and fifth on the second day to cement the Japanese manufacturer’s highest combined score of the campaign thus far.
Amongst the other drivers to have previously tasted success stateside are Jaguar’s Bird – three times a winner in New York – and Sébastien Buemi (Envision Racing), who like the Brit has stood atop the podium in the ‘Big Apple’, taking his most recent win there just under four years ago.
Fellow former champion Lucas Di Grassi (Mahindra Racing) has emerged victorious in both Brooklyn and Long Beach, while Robin Frijns (ABT CUPRA Formula E Team) came out on top in New York in 2019 and Stoffel Vandoorne (DS Penske) scooped the runner-up spoils there en route to last season’s title.
The inaugural Portland E-Prix – round 12 of the 2022/23 Formula E campaign – will get underway at 17:03 local time on Saturday, 24 June (02:03 CET on Sunday, 25 June).
WHAT'S NEW FOR 2023
- Introduction of the smaller, lighter and faster Gen3 cars
- Races will run to a set number of laps rather than time, in a bid to make them simpler to follow while allowing teams more control over their own strategies.
- The Safety Car or Full Course Yellow neutralisations will be compensated by added laps rather than added time.