Just Electric

Edoardo Mortara: “The first impression is always important”

In four years, Formula E has been providing racing fanatics with fantastic races and great drives by the racers. Edoardo Mortara soon became a fan favourite, after his drive in the second race of the season. We caught up with the Swiss to discuss all-things racing, as he continues his electric journey in the series.

The name Edoardo Mortara may still sound new to the Formula E public, but for those who have been following touring car and GT racing in the last few years, having the Swiss in the fully-electric championship is another proof of the top level drivers that are taking part in it.

Like the majority of racing drivers, Mortara had his first taste of motorsports in karting. “At the beginning, I was just doing it for fun. I had my first competitions, first races; and then I moved up to Formula Renault, Formula 3, GP2”, he starts recounting the series he has driven in.

“DTM, and then Formula E”, he finishes. In fact, Formula E marked his comeback to single-seaters after seven years, a time in which he had an important fruition, coming second on his Macau Grand Prix debut, and winning the two following ones; and taking the title in the 2010 Formula 3 Euro Series.

Since 2011, he has been racing in DTM, the prestigious German touring car championship that saw him drive for Audi and make the switch to Mercedes in the 2017 season.

“I had a very good 2016 season, where I came close to winning the championship”, he recalls when asked about his favourite moments in the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters, after coming close to clinching the title, finishing second to Germany’s Marco Wittmann.

In between, the Geneva-native has been racing in the FIA GT World Cup, held on the streets of Macau. Just as Graham Hill used to be called “Mr. Monaco” during his racing days, for his record-breaking winning streak in the Principality; Mortara has earned the nickname “Mr. Macau”, for taking victory four times in GT racing, and six times overall.

Things would change career-wise in October 2017 for him. Monaco-based Venturi team announced Edoardo would be testing the car at the collective pre-season test in Valencia, Spain. Later that month, he was confirmed as one of the two drivers to be racing for the Monegasque squad.

“I was actually looking forwards to be racing in it [Formula E]”, he confesses. “It’s a fast growing championship. It’s the place to be in at the moment. It’s very interesting, with new technology”.

His debut came two months later, on the streets of Hong Kong. He was able to score points in his first race, but it would be the second race of the weekend that made the Formula E public focus on the grey, red, and black Venturi car.

“I was not expecting anything in particular”, responds ‘Edo’, as his team calls him, when asking if he had any expectations that weekend.

In the second round of the Hong Kong ePrix, the Swiss driver was able to position himself at the front after poleman Felix Rosenqvist spun at Turn 1. He held onto the lead for the majority of the race, until he himself spun with a few laps to go, re-entering the race in P3.

He saw the chequered flag from P3, and despite achieving a fantastic result for a team that had been struggling in the past season, the feeling of disappointment after being so close to the win but not being able to achieve it was plain to see on Mortara’s face.

“I was just trying to do my best and actually a little bit trying to impress, because the first impression is always very important in life”, he recalls. Mortara did cause a good impression, indeed; as the Twitter Formula E community was flooded with tweets of support for the rookie.

For the following two rounds, the driver of the number 4 car did not score any points; but was able to come back into the point-scoring positions during the Mexico City ePrix.

He believes having raced in DTM was a helpful factor to keep up to the competitiveness of the championship. “Coming from a very tough championship like DTM, you really need to focus on little details, and it’s surely helpful when you come from such a high-level quality championship to another”.

Having Maro Engel as a teammate surely came in handy, as well. The German was his Mercedes DTM teammate during the 2017 season. However, Mortara acknowledges that once the red lights are out, drivers are all rivals to one another.

“He’s someone that I know already. I’m used to having him around, like in DTM. But in the end, you know, you have to do your work on track, and so you have to focus more on what you’re doing; so in this case, having someone that you know or someone you don’t know, doesn’t make any difference”.

On multiple occasions, Edoardo has highlighted the advantages that Formula E has, not only when it comes to the racing, but also the atmosphere that lives in the paddock. “It’s sort of more friendly than what I know, it’s a little bit more relaxed,, and you’re obviously travelling more around the world, seeing some new things, new racing tracks, that’s an aspect that’s pretty cool, to be honest”.

Speaking of travelling, the series is taking him to venues he never expected he would see. “I had never been to Santiago, I’ve never been to Punta del Este, I’d never been to Mexico, I’ve never been to places like that, so it’s cool!”.

Mortara and Venturi continue their journey in the series, with a car that looks stronger and more reliable than before. As with everyone in the series, they obviously hope to achieve more podiums and wins. Will he be Formula E’s next star? Things are uncertain right now, but the Swiss has been showcasing magnificent skills behind the wheel of his Venturi VM200-FE-03.

Andrea Perilli

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