Mark Preston: Andre Lotterer 'going from strength to strength' in Formula E
DS Techeetah Team Principal Mark Preston has expressed his confidence over Andre Lotterer's driving ability, stating that the German driver is "going from strength to strength" in the all-electric single seater series.
At last weekend's Hong Kong E-Prix, Lotterer arguably had his most competitive weekend in Formula E to date, despite finishing outside of the points following contact with Envision Virgin Racing's Sam Bird on the penultimate lap of the race.
Completing his initial qualifying run in Group Two, Lotterer secured a place inside the top-six Super Pole shootout, emerging with the fourth fastest time before starting the 45-minute + 1 lap race from third on the grid as a result of a grid penalty for Edoardo Mortara.
Batting from third, Lotterer carved his way through the front of the field rapidly, overtaking pole position starter Stoffel Vandoorne on the second lap of the race before finding a way past Oliver Rowland, later overtaking Bird after the driver made a mistake in Turn 2.
In the lead, Lotterer was engaged in a race-long battle for first with Bird, demonstrating a masterclass in defensive driving before being struck in the rear by the British driver on the penultimate lap of the race - an incident that caused the driver to pick up a puncture which, in turn, resulted in suspension damage.
Cruising to the chequered flag, Lotterer finished as the final classified finisher in 14th, backing a DS Techeetah 13-14, missing out on what could have been his maiden Formula E win while Bird took first place, only to be handed a five-second time penalty post-race which ultimately handed the win to Mortara and Venturi.
“We all feel for André; the race was his and he deserved that win," said Preston.
"Since joining DS Techeetah, he has been going from strength to strength in this series, nosing at the podium multiple times and that first race win should have been his.
"He showed of a strong weekend from the start with quick laps in both practice sessions and qualifying to make it into super pole and ensure a good position on the grid.
“This is probably the most stressful race we’ve had in a while with André nearly claiming the win and Jean-Éric [Vergne] being at the wrong end of some further aggressive driver tactics," he continued.
"Jean-Éric had another race full of misfortunes sadly which were difficult to recover from. He’s such a talented driver and it’s frustrating for him not being able to be up there fighting in the front where he belongs.
“It was nice to see André flying in the front showcasing the pace in the car, and in the wet this time so we’ll take that with us as a positive and do everything that we can to have a good race in Sanya in two weeks’ time.”
After powering Vergne to the Drivers' Championship last season, DS Techeetah has so far endured a tumultuous 2018/19 campaign, with the team's best-recorded result so far being from the season opener in Ad Diriyah where Vergne claimed second place.
After five races, Lotterer currently occupies 10th in the Drivers' Standings with 29 points while Vergne sits in 11th with 28 having failed to finish inside the top 10 since January's Marrakesh E-Prix.
Through the collective efforts of both Vergne and Lotterer, DS Techeetah occupies sixth in the Teams' classification with 57 points while Envision Virgin Racing currently leads with 96 points.
Formula E's Season Five campaign will continue on March 23 with the inaugural Sanya E-Prix.