Pascal Wehrlein feels it was a ‘good decision’ for him to make a switch to FIA Formula E Championship with Mahindra Racing after a low-key season on DTM return.
Pascal Wehrlein has had a stop-start Formula 1 career where he made his debut with Manor in 2016, but was forced to switch to Sauber in 2017 when the former team crumbled. His stint with Sauber started on a bad note after his injury in Race of Champions.
A mixed year and Sauber’s decision to tie up with Alfa Romeo meant he had to return to DTM in 2018 as a Mercedes junior. However, the results did not come and Wehrlein decided to part ways with Mercedes after his contract came to an end in December 2018.
Instead of signing with the new HWA Racelab Formula E outfit – the team with whom he raced in DTM – the German opted to go with the more accomplished Mahindra, the decision which he reckons has paid off on the whole to compete in the all-electric series.
It wasn’t a straight up debut for Wehrlein in Formula E as well as his contract with Mercedes meant he was forced to skip the race in Saudi Arabia. He eventually had his first weekend in Marrakesh but it got over before he could get himself in the groove.
However, the race in Santiago proved to be a catalyst as not only he got his first Super Pole chance but also nearly got his maiden win when fighting against Envision Virgin Racing’s Sam Bird. Temperatures issues hindered his chances and he had to settle for second.
“I’m just happy to be in this position,” said Wehrlein after his maiden Formula E podium in Santiago ePrix. “It was great as my first full race in Formula E – the other one in Marrakesh didn’t go so well! What can I say, it’s amazing.
“I was in the car when I finished the race and I thought, ‘oh my god, I could have won that race.’ I was angry at the time but the longer I’m out the car, the happier I get. You just had to stay on the racing line out there. Off the line there was a lot of debris and marbles.
“Once you found yourself there, it’s like driving on ice. At the end we were not limited by energy but by temperature. I had a lot of energy left in the car which I’d have liked to have used but we couldn’t [because of team orders].
“If they hadn’t come through, I’d have gone like hell. It’s always nice when you travel to a weekend and you do a good job, that you can be on the podium and win the race. But in previous years, it was great but aiming for P15 or P10 is a different mindset.
“At the moment, I’m really enjoying the fact that I can challenge for the race win…it was a good decision coming to Formula E,” he summed up. Effectively, Santiago was Wehrlein’s first full Formula E race after the DNF in Morocco and he opened his points account in style.
The German sits ninth with 18 points which is same as BMW Andretti’s Alexander Sims, as Bird (43) leads the drivers’ standings after a late penalty to Wehrlein’s teammate Jerome D’Ambrosio (41), dropped the Belgian to 10th to score a single point from the weekend.