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Formula E Preview: Portland

Written by Vyas Ponnuri, Edited by Meghana Sree

Credit - Handout / Jaguar Racing / Getty Images

Formula E heads stateside to Portland, Oregon for Round 12 of the 2023 season, with the championship fight heating up just as the season starts to reach its climax.


Before going ahead though, let us take a look at the events from the previous weekend of Formula E, the double-header at Jakarta three weeks ago.


Maximilian Gunther finally had his coming-of-age weekend on his Formula E return this season. Following a number of strong performances across the season, he gelled in very quickly to the streets of the Indonesian capital, topping all the free practice sessions that weekend, before taking pole position for both races of the double-header.


Although he lost out on victory to Pascal Wehrlein in Round 10, the Maserati driver rebounded in fine fashion the following day, taking victory in Round 11 of the 2023 Formula E season. It capped off one of the best weekends any driver could have in the series, as he’d topped all but one event on track all weekend.


Speaking of Wehrlein, the Porsche driver made big strides to stay in the championship race. His victory in the first race of the weekend, coupled with a sixth place the following day saw the Porsche driver rise to the head of the standings, in a big weekend for the championship battle. He heads up the championship standings from Avalanche Andretti driver Jake Dennis by only a single point.


Nick Cassidy, who had a rare off weekend at Jakarta, sits third in the standings, only six points off Wehrlein. His fellow Kiwi Mitch Evans sits a further 19 points back, and 25 points off championship leader Wehrlein. However, it’s safe to say he is still in the championship fight, due to the unpredictability of the electric racing series.


Dennis, who sits only one point off Wehrlein, took a brace of runners-up positions in Jakarta, adding on to his podium finishes from Monaco and Berlin, which helped him regain lost ground in the standings.


As for Evans, he salvaged a podium in the second race of the weekend, 24 hours after yet another collision with teammate Sam Bird towards the end of the first race. He has the most ground to make up in the fight, and as he has shown earlier this season, he has the pace to pull out a brace of victories, and swiftly make up ground in the championship fight.


In the teams’ standings, Porsche leapt into the lead of the standings, and now lead by 21 points from Envision Racing, who had a tough weekend last time out. The team in green will be looking to bounce back in the Americas, as a new venue can certainly throw in some jeopardy and unpredictability to the championship battles.


Portland will be the fourth venue in the USA to host a Formula E race, after Long Beach, Florida, and New York. This will also mark the first appearance of the new Gen3 Formula E car on American soil. Portland hosts IndyCar and NASCAR rounds regularly, and Formula E will become the third series to race on the road course in the present day.


Credit: NTT IndyCar Series

Speaking of the new venue, it is the Portland International Raceway, an established road course located just South of the Columbia river in Portland, the most populous city in the American state of Oregon. The 3.190 km (1.98 mi) long circuit is built on the former location of Vanport, a former housing city during the times of World War II. The city was destroyed in a flood in 1948, and wasn’t rebuilt.


The start-finish straight is located parallel to the Columbia Slough, a narrow waterway connecting the larger Columbia river, which lies a stone’s throw away from the circuit. The straight leads into a tight right-left chicane, with the track tightening up on entry. This corner will be an overtaking zone for drivers, and a major action zone on lap one, with the cars all going into the chicane together.


Credit: FIA Formula E

A short straight awaits after the chicane, with an in-field section of corners set to test the driver’s skill and accuracy. Turns four and five, two right-handers, are then followed by the sharp left-hander of turn six. Then comes the crucial turn seven, a tight right-hander leading onto a long back straight. The exit off turn seven is important, so that drivers keep their positions along the speed section to follow.


Turns eight and nine are flat corners leading onto the long run down the following speed section. Turns ten and 11 comprise a fast left-right chicane. This isn’t a traditional overtaking spot, but if a driver is alongside his rival going into the chicane, it becomes a spot to execute a sweeping overtake. The final right-hander of turn 12 takes the drivers back onto the start-finish straight, rounding out a lap of the Portland E Prix circuit.


The race is expected to be 28 laps long, and attack mode will be situated around the right-hander of turn seven, leading onto the long speed section. This could provide for exciting battles heading into the chicane of turns ten and 11.


A new circuit always poses an exciting challenge to the drivers, and they must look to hit the ground running, and have incident-free practice sessions, in order to have a shot at the ultimate prize. As for the four in the championship battle, this is of utmost importance, in order to keep themselves in the championship fight.


Getting it right in Portland can give the drivers a boost of confidence heading into the final stages to round out the season, and this fact would stand true for the four in the championship fight. Who will get it right around the twisty road course? Tune in to the Formula E action this weekend to find out.




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