André, the first questions goes to you. Coming from the world of endurance racing, what were your expectations once you've made the decision to compete in Formula E?
André Loterrer: The thing is, before you join from Lee, you come from other series that are faster and top speed for one, and then you think, okay, these cars are not so quick. But they're very, very challenging to drive because by the fact that we are racing in the heart of the cities, in racetracks that have not as much grip due to more dirty because after the street asphalt and the old weather tires, the energy management it makes the driving very, very complex. So while you're driving you also have to manage your energy stay away from the walls you only have one line one apex, the rest is dust so if you go off a little bit quickly in the world, so I did this few learnings in the first few races crashed, struggled, but then I got the grips of it and add my first podium after two three races and then click.
I sometimes say I was on holidays, before joining Formula E because you have to prepare so much homework in a simulator. You need to know your push labs, know your energy labs, simulate different consumptions, be ready for any kind of possible scenario, whereas in other series, you just go for it as fast as you can, and rather simple. So yeah, these are things that you don’t see from the outside, but still Formula E offers fans a fantastic show. People say, we don't have the sound, but I think in terms of show we offer the most exciting races. The fact that we’re all on the same level of power, same cars, all talented drivers, it creates a lot of racing action. For sure much more than any other racing series where the front runner’s lead is always safe.
Pascal what would you say was your biggest challenge switching from DTM to Formula E?
Pascal Wehrlein: Well, I think the biggest challenge is the race itself, because of the energy management. Which means, we cannot drive the whole race, flat out. We need to recuperate energy, and coast a bit earlier before we break and reaccelerate. That way energy goes back into the battery. That driving style is quite different, it’s very technical, and very complicated. So there's a lot of preparation always be for the weekend. And, yeah, to be as efficient as possible, is the key to winning a race.
How big a part do the engineers play in Formula E compared to Formula One? I am curious to hear your opinion because I know that you’ve both had experience at that level.
André Loterrer: In Formula E the end result, I would say, is 50% team and 50% the driver. Whereas Formula One, I would say 90% the car and 10% the driver. You can put the best driver in the world, in an average Formula One car, he's for sure going to do average.
In Formula E the team is much more involved. For example, when we go to a new track, we can't go there to test or get experience ahead of time. We buy racetrack data from a supplier that renders the racetrack based on the information from the championship and from there, scanning the asphalt, the bumps and everything. We put it all together in our simulator and we practice virtually four days long. Like I said before, push laps, energy laps, race scenarios. You need a really good group of engineers to be able to do your homework beforehand and to prepare everything to develop the car. It's huge.
With regards to both Formula E and Formula One, how do you see the two coexisting in the future ten to twenty years from now? Do you think there will still be room for both? Or do you think that at some point, Formula One would go down in stature?
Pascal Wehrlein: It's a good question… and also a difficult one. Right now we see the two championships coexisting quite well, because we have the established combustion engine technology still prominent. At the same time, we get more and more electric cars on the road. Therefore, the interest for both are still there. With all the manufacturers and the car industry changing towards electric mobility interest will just keep growing for this technology. My guess is that in the future, everything is going to go into that direction, which is good news for Formula E.
André Loterrer: They are two different worlds. You can’t compare them directly. Formula One's been around for many decades and Formula E is in its first, and they’re representing two completely different technologies. The future of electric cars is bright and we are growing in that direction. Formula One has plans as well, I guess. So we are looking at two different routes. But for sure, we at Formula E have the potential to grow a lot more and to create something that might overtake or might merge. I don't know what the big people will decide up there, but I think it's good to have these two routes as opportunities. It would be great if Formula E comes somewhere near or close in stature to Formula One in the next 10 years.
Now, if you could change one thing in Formula E, what would it be?
André Loterrer: As drivers, we’ve been involved in in trying to improve the championship using our voice to improve the qualifying format and making things better in general. From a technical perspective; more power! But that should come with Gen-three cars which would be for sure welcomed. Four wheel drive, which would be a part of Gen-four’s technology. Starts that go from zero to 100 under two seconds would also be great. I want the crazy accelerations.
If I could change something, maybe add races in my favorite locations. The night races we’ve been having are pretty cool. To race in Tokyo or some other exciting cities would be cool too. Technology wise, I think for me is on the right path.
Pascal Wehrlein: Faster cars. That’s all that matters!
What would you tell someone who's still on the fence and haven't seen or attended a Formula E race in person? Why should they come check it out?
Pascal Wehrlein: Formula E races are probably some of the most spectacular races out there. I find them a lot more spectacular than DTM or Formula One. There's a lot lot more action happening. A lot more in overtaking alone! A good comparison for example, last year in Monaco when F1 and Formula E were both there. The two races showed very big differences in action. There were lots more overtaking the whole race in Formula E. The result was then decided in the last lap, just a couple of corners before the finish line. As a fan that's what I would find interesting. You want to see action. You want to see constant lead changes. You want to see the best drivers and best team getting challenged to the end.
André Loterrer: Before joining Formula E, I was also slightly skeptical because I was a petrol head. But from the first races when I joined the series, I immediately got convinced by how cool the show is. I mean, when you come to a race, the E-Village is very nice, you can be involved in the race by voting as a fan at the race or at home, and obviously us drivers are more accessible. These are all nice features and makes for a very entertaining weekend.
But most of it is the main show, it's impossible to predict who is going to win a Formula E race on any given day. You will be guaranteed a very exciting race, more exciting than all the other championships. Lots of overtaking, some drama is surely always there and an unpredictable fight to the finish line with with top drivers battling each other in tight street circuits. A lot to enjoy, for new fans. If they haven't watched motorsport before they need to come and see some exciting races.
Do you guys have any tracks you’d recommend for fans to visit? Which ones would be your favorite?
Pascal Wehrlein: I like Rome. I think it's one of the best tracks in Formula E. It's a long track, it's really a proper street circuit. The track’s layout is amazing, a lot of ups and downs and even some jumps where the car is completely off the ground. Obviously, Rome is a beautiful city and Italy is a beautiful country. That would be my pick.
André Loterrer: For me, the track in Saudi Arabia is one. The layout in Rome is very nice, and it’s also always nice to visit new tracks.
It’s tradition around here at MOTION to ask about what our guests are currently driving. Do you guys own an electric vehicle at the moment?
Pascal Wehrlein: Yes, I have a Taycan Turbo S! I have other cars, but the Taycan is my daily driver.
André Loterrer: Not right now, but sometimes I borrow a Taycan. Today, we’ve been driving around in the new Taycan GTS. I was driving as a passenger with my friend the other day, who also has a Taycan and we went to charge and that was quick. I'm about to decide soon, what I do as my next company car. I can luckily choose what I want from Porsche and I am seriously considering it because I’m currently driving a 911 Turbo S Convertible, which is surely an amazing car, but looking at the gas prices! But it’s not only that, the performance of the Taycan is incredible; acceleration is great and the design looks so cool. I’m thinking about it!
André, Pascal, thank you very much for your time and for sharing your thoughts and experience being Formula E Drivers.
Pascal Wehrlein: Thank you very much!
André Loterrer: Our pleasure!
Don't forget to pick up your copy of MOTION Magazine Edition One here to see our Formula E special.
Photos courtesy of Porsche & Andrew Santos.