Monaco Increase Management driver Pascal Wehrlein recovered well from the bottom of the grid at the 2023 Southwire e-Prix in Portland, Oregon, and despite a late-race contact managed to bring home an eighth place to stay in the top three championship contenders as the Formula E circuit prepares for the next event in Rome.
The 12th round of the championship provided a unique challenge to both drivers and teams as it was held on a ‘normal’ road course. The Portland International Raceway is home to an Indycar race and to several other events of American motorsports and the 3.221 Km course gave drivers a multiple choice of racing line on the run to the first corner.
Pascal Wehrlein had always performed well on this type of circuit (see his results in Mexico) but as the cars rolled out of the pitlane for the Qualifying session he found that the speed was simply not there and had to settle for tenth in his group. As a result, he started the race having already lost the series lead to Jake Dennis, the Briton taking advantage of the three extra points for pole position. But Wehrlein could at least start from P18 as the two DS cars had to serve a penalty and get away from the pit lane.
Wehrlein took zero risks at the start of the 28-lap event, as he knew that it would be a race of attrition; in order to make up positions, the team chose to put him on a strategy of delayed ‘attack mode’ stints to be split into a two-and-six-minute sequence and actually, the #99 Porsche driver finished his last extra power period as the cars were already racing extra time, as two safety car periods (one for recovering Merhi’s car and another following Müller’s crash into the barriers) had caused the race direction to extend the total distance by another four laps.
Up to that point, Wehrlein had fought his way through the pack, despite being pushed back from 10th to 16th as he was entangled in a multi-car contact on lap 20. In the end, MIM’s Wehrlein managed to climb back to ninth place, his final classification being P8 as Sam Bird was handed a five-second penalty post-race. This result keeps Wehrlein’s championship hopes well alive as he has 138 points versus Dennis’ 154 and Cassidy’s 153. The Rome weekend is coming up in two weeks’ time.