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Preview | Why the two Berlin E-Prix' will be unique races

Preview | Why the two Berlin E-Prix' will be unique races

20 April - 12:34 Last update: 14:03

While Formula 1 can count on less and less enthusiasm in Germany, interest in Formula E is growing. No doubt this is partly due to the many Germans active in the electric class: Andre Lotterer, René Rast, Maximilian Günther and Pascal Wehrlein. The latter is the championship leader and one of the favourites for wins in next weekend's two E-Prix' in Berlin.

For several years now, the E-Prix at the former Tempelhof airport has been a popular but, at the same time, complicated track. More than once, top drivers and teams had total off days in the German capital. This is because it proves extremely difficult to find the right set-up so the tyres do not overheat (to the detriment of the car's performance). Indeed, at the beginning of the lap, there is a long corner, followed by two hairpin bends, so hard on the tyres that overheating is imminent. Moreover, the asphalt has a lot of grip, which eats up and wears out the tyres too.

Unusual track surface

"Berlin is a unique race event for the championship, some long and fast corners and an unusual track surface," says Phil Charles, Jaguar technical manager. "I call the surface ‘pebblemac’ as it is actually made up of large concrete blocks with stones (pebbles) pressed into the top surface. These stones are aggressive on the tyres, and although it is a short lap, the percentage of time spent cornering is quite high, so car setups need to complement the corner type and the unique cycle the tyres see."

In Berlin, the team that knows how to best deal with these unique conditions is not necessarily the team that dominates the entire season. So Porsche's factory team, which took three wins in the six races this season (twice Wehrlein, once Antonio Felix da Costa), has been warned. Incidentally, Avalanche Andretti's Porsche customer team has also already won an E-Prix, so, on paper, a Porsche-powered Gen3 car is the favourite.

Man in form

It has to be said, Wehrlein picked up three podium finishes this season, all at the start of the season. The man in form, on the other hand, is Nick Cassidy. Envision Racing's New Zealander has been on the podium for the past three E-Prix'. However, he is missing a win so far this season, and in Berlin, he is keen to take that final step. Fellow countryman and Jaguar driver Mitch Evans won the previous race in Brazil, and he will surely want to prove that the win - after a difficult start to the season - was not a short flurry.

The local drivers can, no doubt, count on lots of support next weekend. Among them is René Rast, who caused a furore in the DTM. Rast no doubt also speaks for Günther, Wehrlein and Lotterer when he says: "Being my home race, I’m excited for the Berlin E-Prix. It’s a very special event for me. It’s the race and track that I am most familiar with on the calendar, so I’m heading into the event feeling confident, and I am looking forward to it. Hopefully, we can continue to build on the success we have had so far this season, we have been competitive on almost all tracks," said the McLaren driver.