Venturi Racing endured a pretty difficult end to the season in Berlin. For Edoardo Mortara, the leading points scorer in the Monegasque team’s history, their downturn in form denied him a first-ever top 10 finish in the Formula E drivers’ championship after what had initially looked like being a very promising season.
After scoring 32 points from the opening five rounds, Mortara was seventh in March when the season was suspended but slid to 14th in the final standings after adding just nine more points across the final six races.
So, what went wrong? Susie Wolff told reporters in Berlin that she was “hugely disappointed” by the team’s downturn in form but insisted a full post mortem would only be possible once the season was complete.
Three months on, Mortara believes the team have a good understanding of what went wrong and their focus now is on ensuring it remains a one-off.
“As a driver, whenever you have bad results you don’t really keep a nice souvenir from those races,” said Mortara. “Berlin was quite difficult for us, so I don’t really keep nice memories from it. We were struggling quite a lot.”
“It seemed that there were some things we could have done better, without going into too much detail, I think that it was pretty well understood what we did wrong and it was also a problem [we had] pretty much all year.
“That makes me optimistic for the future, if we can solve the issues that we had then probably we can find some more competitiveness and challenge the front guys [more often] because in the end, this sport and this championship, it’s fun when you race at the front, not at the back.”
Frustratingly for Mortara, those opportunities to race at the front have been few and far between in his three full seasons of Formula E, and his record of three podiums (including a win at the 2019 Hong Kong E-Prix) from 33 starts do not do justice to his talents.
In spite of Venturi’s hit-and-miss competitiveness in recent seasons, Mortara remains highly rated in the paddock, and the manner in which he outscored nine-time grand prix winner Felipe Massa surprised fewer people than you might think.
What then can a driver in the midfield do to elevate himself or his team further forward? A lack of results can sometimes lead to a lack of commitment, but that’s not an issue for Mortara who still feels he has a point to prove.
“There is frustration building up, year after year, when you see that things are not really going the way you would like. I try to put even more effort in and that is also difficult for the team because it can create some tension. For sure, [I am] at least as hungry now as when I started,” said Mortara.
“I don’t see myself yet as an established driver but this is something positive for me because whatever situation I’m in, I always try to give my best and more. To be a really established driver you have to back that up with the results and unfortunately in the last few seasons, I could not really show it for various reasons. When you’re competing for one of the smallest teams, it’s even more difficult.”
“The level [of competition] has increased year by year. You have some really, really talented drivers and some really, really good teams. I think that each year it’s getting tougher, definitely, and it makes the challenge even bigger.”
So what does the future hold? His new team-mate Norman Nato – who Mortara describes as ‘a nice guy, very talented’ – should be an improvement on the outgoing Massa who struggled badly last season.
But as Mortara rightly points out, the driver lineup is just one small part of what will ultimately define Venturi’s success. There’s every chance Season 7 will be an improvement but Mortara won’t be drawn into any predictions just yet.
“I hope that next season we’re going to be even more competitive than the first part of Season 6 but that is not only depending on me,” he said.
“You have an entire structure, you have a car, you have obviously the driver, it’s an entire package and this package needs to work in good harmony.
“There are so many variables that need to go well for you to achieve the results that I cannot predict that we’re going to be more or less competitive because, as I said, it’s not fun to race at the back. If we can challenge the front guys, that would be my hope.”
“By analysing what happened this year we could see that actually, the qualifying performances were actually pretty good – at least from my side. I had one of the best averages from the entire field.
“What we were lacking is race pace, a lot of race performance. We were not really expecting that, because in Season 5, we were actually not so bad there and we struggled more in qualifying. Now it’s a question of putting everything together.”
Whatever happens, Mortara is eager to avoid a repeat of the hectic schedule the teams faced in Berlin which saw them forced to race six times in the space of nine days. A schedule he believes impacted their ability to recover their form in the final races.
“It’s pretty simple. If you have no other choice, if that is the only choice that you have in order to start a season [or] to complete a season then it’s OK,” said Mortara.
“Obviously, if you have the choice, I would prefer to have more time in between races. You also have to understand that whenever you have that many races in such a short space of time, if you’re not well prepared or you have some technical issues as we had in Berlin, you have this impact of these problems on six races and not on one. So yeah, I’d prefer to have quite a lot more time in between races like a normal season.”