RACING

“I hope he doesn’t go to F1! – Wehrlein’s fury against de Vries

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Pascal Wehrlein launched a fearsome opening rant against outgoing Formula E champion Nyck de Vries after a clash that ended both of their races at the season finale in Seoul.

“I hope he doesn’t go to F1!” Wehrlein said on Porsche team radio, before calling de Vries “a fucking idiot”.

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The outburst referred to the long run but likely slim chance of de Vries making his F1 debut next year.

He has participated in free practice sessions for Williams and Mercedes this season but is expected to remain in Formula E for 2023 with a move to the Maserati program which takes over the current Venturi team.

Wehrlein himself is a former Mercedes protege and F1 test driver, who also contested 39 Grands Prix with the Manor and Sauber teams in 2016 and 2017.

His rant about de Vries came immediately after the pair collided at Turn 1 as they battled for 13th with Wehrlein coming to a halt later in the lap and the Mercedes swooping with a cut tire and suspension damage.

Wehrlein was unavailable to the media at the end of the race, as he was required by the stewards. It wasn’t directly related to the de Vries clash.

De Vries was found responsible for the accident and received a retrospective penalty of five seconds despite being retired in the garage.

The race received a further outburst of criticism for Mercedes EQ driver Wehrlein, who described the incident as “not the norm for this championship”.

Only the end of the confrontation was captured by television cameras.

“First of all, in the first incident, he moved under braking in Turn 20,” Wehrlein said.

“I had to lock all my tires and almost crashed and lost a place or two because of that.

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He then took over de Vries, only for the other – more terminal – contact to occur.

“A lap later I think he went into attack mode and the first possible option he tried an overly optimistic move in Turn 1 – sliding all the way out of the turn, crashing into my car, braking the suspension, destroying his race with way too much braking late so he didn’t really corner anymore, which is not really understandable,” said Wehrlein, winner of the Mexico City E-Prix.

“It is not the standard of this championship. I mean…those moves!

“At the end my race was destroyed, his race was destroyed and he got two penalty points for it, license points.

“It’s quite often the same riders with over-motivated movements and unfortunately this time I fell victim to that.”

De Vries, who retired from the race and slipped to ninth in the drivers’ points table, said the initial incident with Wehrlein, which happened when he was not in mode attack, happened because he “let it go because I don’t really feel like fighting at this point in the race”.

He said he then expected more cooperation from Wehrlein once he was in attack mode.

“When I turned on attack mode and got up behind him, I sort of expected the same kind of approach to running and he wanted to fight,” added de Vries.

“I had already committed and obviously his right front touched my left back. In the end, that’s what caused the flat tire.

Upon hearing that Wehrlein had criticized him, de Vries simply said he “didn’t hear what he said”.

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He added: “What can I say? Everyone is allowed to say what they want to say. Everyone makes a big deal out of it but I don’t know.

De Vries and Wehrlein were criticized by several other drivers during the 2022 season, although only de Vries received a prior penalty for excessive defensive movements.

The outgoing champion also told The Race he was “super, super happy for the team” and praised teammate and new champion Stoffel Vandoorne “who has had an incredible and very consistent season”.

But he was also candid about feeling “disappointed with my own season” given he was unable to defend his title.

“It’s not always obvious from the outside, but it just became a bit of a snowball effect,” de Vries said.

“There were so many little things that always kind of got in our way.

“They were just enough to stop us running consistent runs, and then sometimes we took the big ones. [wins in Diriyah and Berlin].

“But ultimately, yeah, on my side of the garage, we just didn’t really find our way and then we were on our backs, and it was just a snowball effect.”

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