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Formula E

Berlin E-Prix Preview: Wehrlein's biggest chance for home soil triumph

This weekend's Berlin E-Prix double-header represents the ninth and 10th rounds of the 2023/24 Formula E World Championship

Berlin 2023
Article
To news overview © Sam Bloxham / Formula E

A fortnight on from the exhilarating Monaco E-Prix and Formula E returns to the German capital this weekend, for the Berlin E-Prix double-header. RacingNews365 will be on the ground covering all the action at the Tempelhof Airport Circuit.

Berlin represents the start of the second half of the season and the countdown to the championship finale in London, where the title fight looks destined to be settled.

However, for home hero and championship leader Pascal Wehrlein, Berlin marks a significant opportunity to extend his lead over Nick Cassidy and Jake Dennis.

The German has never won in Berlin – his best result is sixth – but Porsche are expected to thrive at the revised layout for this weekend.

Rookies galore

As was the case last season, a rookie test will take place the day after the second race in Berlin, where 22 young drivers will gather crucial data for the teams and gain experience for their careers.

However, due to this weekend's clash between Formula E and WEC, five rookie drivers are actually going to be making their competitive debut.

Paul Aron and Joel Eriksson are replacing Sebastian Buemi and Robin Frijns at Envision, Jordan King is replacing Nyck de Vries at Mahindra and Kelvin van der Linde will make another cameo for Nico Müller at Abt Cupra.

Taylor Barnard will also be racing for McLaren again, as Sam Bird continues to recover from his successful operation following his accident in Monaco.

Brilliantly, two female drivers will be present in Monday's rookie test, in the form of Marta Garcia – who spoke exclusively to RacingNews365 – and Alice Powell.

What happened last year?

Last season's double-header in Berlin was a chaotic affair as the peloton-style of racing was in full swing. Sebastian Buemi claimed pole for the first race but it was a Jaguar one-two come the chequered flag, led home by Mitch Evans. All four Jaguar-powered cars finished in the top five.

The big story of the first race was Dennis crashing out and almost taking Antonio Felix da Costa with him. However, the Andretti driver recovered superbly in the second race by claiming a podium.

A wet qualifying took place ahead of the second race, which resulted in a shock Abt Cupra one-two. Unfortunately, the Kempten-based squad failed to convert pole into a victory, as Cassidy snatched victory. Protestors stormed the circuit and glued themselves to the track ahead of the race. 

			© Simon Galloway / Formula E
	© Simon Galloway / Formula E

Track layout

As has been the case for every Berlin E-Prix bar one, this weekend's event will take place at the iconic Tempelhof Airport.

The drivers will be faced with a new high-speed layout this weekend, which will likely result in the peloton being on show once again.

Consisting of 15 corners, the new layout for 2024 is 2.343km in distance and has two very heavy braking zones at Turns 6 & 9. In terms of the weather, the temperature will not be an issue with dry conditions forecast.

			© Formula E
	© Formula E

Favourites for victory

Picking out a favourite for victory is actually incredibly difficult for Berlin. On paper, the peloton-style should suit the Porsche powertrain better than others, yet it was Jaguar-powered drivers who were victorious in both races 12 months ago.

With that in mind, championship leader Wehrlein has to be a favourite for at least one win this weekend, given that he has been the strongest qualifier this season and has the ideal package for the German capital.

Oliver Rowland is arguably another contender based on the fact Nissan's efficiency has impressed the paddock this year, whilst the British driver is also a demon over one-lap.

Both factory Jaguar drivers – Cassidy and Evans – are also huge contenders having mastered the peloton in Berlin last year, although both drivers have been looking ahead to Berlin cautiously as it suits Porsches strengths.

			© James Sutton / Formula E
	© James Sutton / Formula E

Dark horses

A name not mentioned as an outright favourite is, of course, Dennis. The British driver does have the ideal package for Berlin, but has struggled in qualifying this season. Whilst qualifying is less important due to the expected peloton, he will want to be starting closer to the front.

Wehrlein is not the only driver celebrating a home race this weekend, as Maserati's Maximilian Günther will also be targeting home success. Günther has shown great consistency this season and claimed a podium in Berlin last year.

Another dark horse is arguably DS Penske's Jean-Eric Vergne, who performed well in Misano where the peloton was at its most extreme. Vergne has enjoyed a positive season so far and remains in the title fight, a good result in Berlin will increase his championship chances.

How do the championships look?

Wehrlein heads into his home event with a slim seven-point lead over Cassidy in the drivers' championship, whilst Dennis is a further six points adrift. Rowland occupies fourth with Evans in fifth following his Monaco win, with just 25 points separating the top five. 

In the teams' championship, Jaguar remain at the top with a commanding 44-point lead over Porsche, who are also celebrating their home race in Berlin. Andretti are a further 15 points adrift in third, with Nissan in fourth. DS Penske complete the top five.

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