Porsche powertrains dominate and South Africa debut: Talking points ahead of round five in Cape Town

 (LAT Images, CSM/Formula E)
(LAT Images, CSM/Formula E)

The ABB FIA Formula E World Championship returns this weekend for one of the most hotly anticipated races on the calendar with the inaugural Cape Town E-Prix.

Here are all the key talking points as the planet’s favourite motorsport heads to South Africa:

Envision proving to be Season 9’s dark horse

It has been a promising start to the season for Envision Racing, with British-based manufacturer currently sitting third in the teams’ standings, while their driver pairing of Sebastien Buemi and Nick Cassidy lie fourth and fifth, respectively, in the drivers’ standings.

Former champion Buemi will no doubt be heading into the weekend fired up having been denied a podium finish in the previous round for an energy usage violation – the seventeen-second time penalty dropping the Swiss to fifteenth and out of the points. There was no such misery though for Cassidy, who claimed his first podium of the season and fifth in Formula E history.

Like his team, the Kiwi has been one of Formula E’s most underrated drivers since debuting in 2021 for his current outfit. In fact – Cassidy has just one less point than 2022 champion Stoffel Vandoorne (Mercedes-EQ/DS Penske) since winning the 2022 New York City E-Prix in Round 11 last season.

All the signs suggest this could be a successful year for the Silverstone-based manufacturer given the pace of their two drivers, especially when compared to the struggles of their cousin Jaguar on the same powertrain.

Porsche powertrain continuing to dominate

There is little sign of the Porsche powertrain slowing down heading into Round 5, evidenced no better by Pascal Wehrlein (TAG Heuer Porsche)’s magnificent start to the season.

The German sits atop of the Drivers’ World Championship on 80 points with an 18-point lead over Jake Dennis (Avalanche Andretti), also on the Porsche powertrain, although the gap would be less severe had Dennis not been rear-ended by NEOM McLaren’s Rene Rast on the hairpin in Hyderabad. The Porsche team do though have a healthy 23-point lead over Andretti in the manufacturer standings.

The pair have firmly established themselves as the two early title contenders and will remain in the top two regardless of the result this weekend.

Mixed results for the championship’s big names

The Formula E grid features some major names from the world of motorsport, including former Scuderia Toro Rosso Formula 1 driver Buemi, three time 24 Hours of Le Mans champion Andre Lotterer (Avalanche Andretti) and current Aston Martin Formula 1 reserve driver Stoffel Vandoorne (DS Penske). However, there have been mixed fortunes for the series’ superstars so far.

Former champions Buemi and Jean-Eric Vergne (DS Penske) have got off to decent starts, with the Formula E veterans both sat on 31 points knowing the importance of gaining points in Cape Town to keep the pressure on Wehrlein and Dennis.

However, Season 8 champion Vandoorne languishes down in 16th with just five points to his name, while Edoardo Mortara (Maserati MSG Racing) and Mitch Evans (Jaguar TCS Racing) – the other podium sitters from last season – sit in 18th and 12th place respectively.

 (Jaguar Racing via Getty Images)
(Jaguar Racing via Getty Images)

It has also been an underwhelming season for Lotterer and Season 6 champion Antonio Felix da Costa (TAG Heuer Porsche) given their respective teammates achievements, and in spite of the latter’s podium finish in Hyderabad.

Formula E debuts in South Africa

The Net Zero Carbon Championship once again reminds fans of its magnificent calendar this season as it heads to sub-Saharan Africa for the first time in its history.

The 2023 Cape Town E-Prix will feature the spectacular Table Mountain as one of many breath-taking backdrops to the race – which is the second consecutive debut for the series after last round in Hyderabad.

Expect fast-paced wheel-to-wheel racing as an expected 20,000 people watch 22 cars battle it out in the Green Point and Waterfront precinct of the Mother City.

talkSPORT & Formula E announce weekly motorsport show

talkSPORT, the world’s biggest sports radio network, have this week announced the launch of ‘On Track’ – a weekly motorsport show dedicated to the latest news, features and interviews from Formula E.

The show, which will be hosted by talkSPORT’s motor-racing expert Jon Jackson, will air from 4-5pm on talkSPORT 2 every Tuesday and is the only weekly motorsport show on UK radio.

::Watch the inaugural 2023 Cape Town E-Prix live on terrestrial television on Channel 4 at 14:00 GMT on Saturday 25 February