Pascal Wehrlein believes an improvement in qualifying will be key to his Formula E championship hopes in 2024 after leading the standings for the majority of 2023.
From the second race of the 2023 season to the Portland E-Prix, which preceded double-headers in Rome and the London finale, it was Wehrlein who led the title race.
But, a poor end to his campaign saw him overhauled by eventual champion Jake Dennis, Nick Cassidy and Mitch Evans – the latter two are teammates at Jaguar for the 2024 season, which begins in Mexico City on January 13.
“There’s a lot of different software things in the car which you can improve and improve the control, improve the performance,” Wehrlein told Total-Motorsport.com.
“An area we tried to really focus on is pushing us more for better qualifyings. We have new setup ideas as well.”
Wehrlein only started one race in 2023 on the first two rows of the grid, with his two victories in Diriyah coming from fifth and ninth during the early part of the season.
He failed to qualify for the duels nine times from the 16 races, so relied on Porsche‘s competitive race pace to charge through the field, which became harder as the campaign went on.
“I think our qualifying pace has never been very good last season,” continued Wehrlein. “There were some exceptions but even in the beginning of the season, our qualifying pace was not very strong.
“As the season progressed, the disadvantage we probably had in the races, the others caught up, they learned as well and they improved.
“So I think with the new generation of cars we really had a strong start and especially the races we were very strong. But qualifying is sort of our weak area where we need to improve and that will make our lives a lot easier – if we start in the top five, rather than outside of the top 10, to score good points and have strong races.”
Is Wehrlein being overlooked for the title?
The top three from 2023 – Dennis, Cassidy and Evans – are seen as the favourites again for the new 2024 season. Wehrlein‘s teammate Da Costa is also confident he can mount a title challenge in his second year at Porsche.
In October’s Valencia testing, the Porsche and Jaguar powertrains appeared to be close with Maserati and Nissan also in the mix.
Wehrlein, who is about to embark in his sixth Formula E campaign, feels it’s a matter of getting over the line to become world champion in 2024.
“We had a strong season and we were leading actually for most of the time in the season. I definitely think that we were pretty close last year,” said Wehrlein. “Yes if you look at the points in the end, it looked a bit more disappointing than it probably was last year.
“But the problem was that we just missed out in the last two double headers, which cost us a lot of big points. But I actually think we were much closer than it looked.
“We did a lot of things right. I think we can still improve on a couple of things, especially qualifying, which then will make our life easier to finish the job.”