Ian James, Team Principal of the NEOM McLaren Formula E Team was left understandably disappointed following last weekend’s Berlin E-Prix double-header, as the Woking-based team failed to scored a single point.
The seventh and eighth round of the 2022/23 ABB FIA Formula E World Championship are two that the team won’t be remembering anytime soon, with it having been nothing short of a disaster. On Saturday, rookie Jake Hughes and home hero René Rast qualified twelfth and fourteenth, before both hitting a NIO 333 Racing driver during the race.
Hughes unfortunately went into the back of Dan Ticktum after the NIO driver hit Stoffel Vandoorne, leaving Hughes with nowhere to go. The damage he sustained forced him into an early retirement, whilst Rast could only salvage seventeenth after being awarded a five-second time penalty for hitting Sérgio Sette Câmara.
“It’s been a tough day for the team here in Berlin,” James said after Saturday’s race. “We struggled to unlock the necessary pace throughout the practice sessions, and this trend continued into qualifying where we weren’t able to progress beyond the group stages, with Jake starting in P12 and René in P14.
“As we have seen before, starting in the midfield of a Formula E race puts you at a higher risk of being involved in an incident. This was especially true today, where the racing itself was about as chaotic as we have experienced. This resulted in both René and Jake being involved in crashes which effectively ended both their respective races.
“We need to work on ensuring that we can unlock the performance which puts us in a better position from the start. This remains the focus of the team. We have another opportunity tomorrow to redress the balance – and the work is already well underway.”
Sunday at the Tempelhof Airport Circuit didn’t really go any better for the Woking-based team; however, both drivers weren’t involved in any collisions thankfully. Despite this, Rast could only manage thirteenth in the second race of the weekend, whilst Hughes was even further behind eighteenth.
McLaren’s main issue in Berlin was simply a real lack of pace, something which was surprising to see given how quick they’ve been in qualifying at least all season so far. Whilst they didn’t lose any places in the Constructors’ Championship, they did lose significant points to the top five, meaning they are somewhat in no man’s land in the standings.
“This has been a particularly tough weekend for the team,” James said on Sunday. “The performance has fallen well short of our expectations and this is reflected in the fact that we are leaving Berlin without any points.
“The day started with a setback – an issue beyond our control resulted in René stopping on track immediately after leaving the pitlane. This cost him the entire FP3 session, losing valuable learning for qualifying and the race. We didn’t have the performance to progress beyond the group stages, with Jake starting P14 and René P17.
“During the race, both drivers – together with the support of the team – executed their respective strategies well. However, this was not enough to see either driver finish in the points.
“We know we’ve got use the frustration from this weekend to energise us for the work ahead. Although we don’t expect any silver bullets, we know that we can find solutions to the current challenges. In order to do this effectively, we will have draw a line under this event and look forwards. We will push for improvements in the overall package that will enable us to close the gaps to competition. As a team, we relish a challenge – so will approach this one with the necessary determination. Now, on to Monaco!”