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Formula E Portland

Formula E’s Portland debut tipped to create “unique” spectacle

Formula E’s first visit to Portland this weekend has been tipped to create a “unique” spectacle due to the high-speed nature of the IndyCar venue.

Edoardo Mortara, Maserati Racing, Maserati Tipo Folgore

The all-electric series’ only United States race on the 2022-23 calendar features a very different track layout to the typical street tracks that make up the bulk of the schedule, with long straights, fast corners and very few hard braking points.

It has left teams expecting a race where the focus will be on energy saving for the majority of the 28-lap duration, with drivers looking to benefit from each other's slipstream to meet their energy targets.

Maserati team principal James Rossiter said: “I watched the guys a lot in the simulator, we tried many different strategies. The guys in the top three will dictate the dynamic and we’ll see something a bit unique.

“I am quite excited to see how it turns out. It’s an incredibly fast circuit, you’ll need some big commitment in qualifying. It’s something new for Formula E.”

Michael Andretti, whose eponymous team competes in FE as Avalanche Andretti, added: “It will be one of those where you won’t want to lead the race, because you’ll be used with the draft. It will be interesting to see how slow the pace will be.”

Jake Dennis, Andretti Autosport, walks the track

Jake Dennis, Andretti Autosport, walks the track

Photo by: Sam Bagnall / Motorsport Images

Andretti driver Jake Dennis, who goes into the team’s home event second in the points standings behind Porsche’s Pascal Wehrlein, added that overtaking will be much easier at Portland than other venues this season where energy saving proved critical.

“At somewhere like Sao Paulo, it was so dusty off-line, so it was hard to overtake,” he said. “But here it’s wide and clean, so I expect some opportunistic moves.

“It will be over 20 laps of jostling, saving energy, and being in the right place at the right time. I hope we can put on a good show.”

Roberto Merhi, who made his FE debut last time out at Jakarta with Mahindra, told Autosport he believes the Portland race will be “probably the most fun race of the season to watch”.

“The entire field will be one big pack for most of the race because we will have to save so much energy until the last two laps,” he said. “It will be like Berlin, but more exaggerated.

“The difference in lap time from qualifying and the race will be huge. Maybe we will be six seconds a lap slower. And that makes it easier for everyone to follow.”

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Nissan driver Sacha Fenestraz offered a similar view, pointing out that qualifying will be rendered almost irrelevant by the amount of energy saving drivers will have to do.

“Nobody will want to lead because in terms of consumption it’s not the thing you want to do,” he said. “It also means if you qualify at the back, it will be easy to move forward.

“It will be all about the last few laps, where you can make the difference.”

Dennis added: “Qualifying doesn’t mean anything this weekend. You can start from anywhere and win the race.”

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