The motorsport-loving public got to spend time with ace racing drivers António Félix da Costa and Pascal Wehrlein as PUMA celebrated the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship which makes its debut in the Mother City tomorrow.
Da Costa and Wehrlein, who race for the TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team, entertained the public and media members at the temporary PUMA Pit Stop store in Loop Street, Cape Town. The celebrations included interviews, shirt signings and Wehrlein being interviewed by TV presenter Julia Stuart as he drove up to the spectacular viewing point on Signal Hill in an all-electric Porsche Taycan Turbo S.
Here, we caught up with the racing driver to unpack his relationship with the TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team, the PUMA racing gear, racing in Cape Town and what sparked his desire to become a racing driver.
Men’s Health: What are the strengths of this Porsche 99X Electric Gen3?
Pascal Wehrlein: It is a strong race car. The race pace is really good which enables us to move up many positions.
Your relationship with the TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team?
Being in the team for the third year, I understand every system in the car and the tools I have, so we can grow together as a team and perform at a higher level. It has helped being involved in developing the new car, with the team knowing exactly what I need.
You have had some race wins already this season–have you been surprised by the car?
Valencia’s testing at the end of last year was a bit of an eye-opener regarding performance. But as a team, we drew the right conclusions and everyone worked really hard to put us in a good position for the first race. I am super happy. It has been an amazing start, but the season is long and we want more wins.
You have raced various formats – what are the main attractions of Formula E?
It is a very close competition, with all the drivers and teams on a high level. Having common spec parts for things like aerodynamics ensures one team doesn’t dominate and all drivers can win and score good points. As a driver that is a good challenge because if you are successful you feel you have done something special. It is also great to race street circuits and show people the capabilities of electric mobility.
With set up – how much input do you provide?
Each driver has a specific style, so I will request a different feeling from other drivers in terms of balance, settings and so on. Of course, the team has a lot of data but in the end, the driver needs to extract the maximum out of the car, so the settings need to be adjusted to the driver’s individual needs.
What makes qualifying thrilling in Formula E?
Qualifying is exciting, fair and a big challenge. Especially once you get through to the single lap 1-against-1 duels, which are cool. You have to avoid mistakes while extracting everything out of the car. It’s also great for the fans.
Racing a new circuit like Cape Town must be challenging.
I am always excited to race new tracks – finding the rhythm and learning what the car needs to be fast. We can prepare in the simulator, which lets you test quite a lot and is very realistic. In general, the sim gives us good info, but this needs to be confirmed on track during the first practice session. I also like going to new cities and venues in general and Cape Town is a very special track and a very special place.
Your thoughts on your PUMA racing gear?
I appreciate the tech and the high quality of our racing gear. The most important thing is that it keeps us safe at any time. But it also needs to be light, comfortable and can breathe as you can imagine it can get scorching inside the car.
What sparked your desire to become a racing driver?
I have always been addicted to motorsports. The first track I visited was Hockenheim when I was 5 or 6. The speed, the sound. That was the day I told my parents I wanted to be a racing driver. It all started when they took me to a karting track when I was 8. So passion and hunger have been there since I was a young kid. I just love the speed, the competition, the wheel-to-wheel racing, the teamwork and extracting everything out of the car.
When Can You Watch the Cape Town E-Prix?
- Free Practice 1 for the Cape Town E-Prix gets underway at 17:00 SAST (15:00 GMT) on Friday 24 February.
- Free Practice 2 follows at 09:10 SAST (07:10 GMT) on Saturday 25 February with qualifying from 11:40 SAST (9:40 GMT). Round 5 of Season 9 gets underway at 16:00 SAST (14:00 GMT).
- Fans in South Africa can catch live action from Qualifying and the race across both SuperSport Grandstand and SuperSport Motorsport.
Images by: The Palm Tribe