Assessing Oliver Askew’s debut season in Formula E is no easy task.
That’s because his relatively modest 24-point haul — 102 fewer than teammate Jake Dennis in 2022 — must be cautioned against with several factors that were out of his control.
At the same time, he and the team are naturally disappointed with the final points total, although a true and constructive argument can be made to say that his fourth place in London and fifth in Seoul helped Avalanche Andretti edge out Porsche in the final teams. rankings
There are some in the Formula E paddock who believe that BMW’s technical package was among the best in the championship over the last two seasons.
That’s a difficult assumption to fully verify because in Formula E the variations of getting the Gen2 car into sweet spots, particularly in qualifying, are so nuanced that overall there was very little to choose between Mercedes (and Venturi), DS, Jaguar, Audi (and Envision) Porsche and BMW.
What made the difference was the preparation, the brainpower (software included) and simply doing the best job of the day.
Andretti, although he did a very good job for much of 2022, he didn’t get enough of those days.
He was always going to be a bit on the defensive, having to reshape his team in all areas after BMW announced its rather vague withdrawal in December 2020.
He needed to hire, he needed to pay the way (via Avalanche), and he needed to recalibrate in terms of putting energy into his future Gen3. That ended up being with the same people who beat sixth place in the standings, Porsche.
For Askew, it was a season in his nascent career like no other. Although he did the right thing. He walked in with his eyes wide open and arms outstretched, ready to see and feel the full experience.
“It’s definitely been one of the biggest challenges of my career, and I think that’s common,” he tells The Race.
“It’s just the nature of the series; it is one of the most difficult in the world and I knew it when I entered it.
“It’s been a huge learning curve, mainly in the first half of the year, and I think from the second half to the last quarter it’s started to click a little bit.”
Askew spoke ahead of his excellent run to fifth in Seoul, where he kept in touch with Robin Frijns late in the race and set a fastest lap just 0.1sec behind team-mate Jake Dennis.
It was clear that Askew was enjoying himself as he learned, in what was the final season of a set of rules, with minimal testing and in a more natural hierarchical ranking system, all of which created formidable invisible enemies for the Floridian to take on. will face
But as well as eventually leading to Formula E, Askew found that the notoriously inconsistent mechanical and electronic (brake-by-wire) brake setup and brake material inconsistencies were among the most difficult factors.
“It’s definitely been fun and honestly the power management side of it has probably been one of the minor learning curves. That’s an automatic thing and you just follow the car’s system.
“It’s more like one lap pace that then carries over to race pace a little bit. It’s like the way the car should be driven, and the brakes are super finicky and really suck to be honest. That has been the biggest learning curve.”
This wrecked Askew on a number of occasions and there were races where he missed. Jakarta seemed to be a good example and it was a brutal experience.
On a new-for-all track for the first time in 2022, Askew disappeared. He dragged it back to Seoul in yet another ‘new-for-all’ setup, but time-wise, the Jakarta experience could have been crucial in shaping his future in Formula E.
“It was so hot,” he recalls of what was “probably the most challenging weekend” of his season.
“After the race I was wondering if it was just me and I was happy to learn that all the drivers were completely eliminated after that.
“From a physical point of view, that was the most difficult. I mean, these cars are not that demanding, but that one was brutal.
But there were more positive signs that Askew could really cultivate a career in Formula E. The first came early at the first event in Diriyah in January. He also half expected it, because “the boys told me that he would enter [first race in Saudi]If a rookie is going to perform on a track this year, it will be Saudi because it’s not a Formula E track, it flows more naturally, like a road course.”
“That comes back to my point: that track suits me naturally, it doesn’t have a lot of big braking zones, it’s all about pace.
Then there was Marrakech, where they made it through to the qualifying knockout stage for the first time when they slipped into the quarter-finals in an incredibly close group session that saw the top eight covered by 0.2 seconds.
He took seventh on the grid but then saw his race “fall apart on the first lap when I lost my wing and we just didn’t have the pace after that”.
As for the standings, Askew was beaten by Dennis at 13-3 and the average starting position – fifth for the Briton and 13th for the American – was ultimately eye-opening.
However, the results came for Askew in London and Seoul. The problem was that they also came for Dennis and they came with higher rewards.
“We expected it [the results] a long time ago, but for some reason, when I get a good grade, we can’t get there,” says Askew.
“So that [London] It was finally, like, the first time we were able to hold the position and use our qualifying performance to our advantage.
“I don’t think we have the race pace to, you know, unless we have a huge energy advantage, to start from the back and work our way up, so for me and for the team, qualifying is really important.
“That was the day [London] where everything just came together.”
It’s palpably clear that Andretti found a lost star in Jake Dennis or indeed one that needed to be rediscovered. His form in 2022 was somewhat masked in the middle of the races as the Avalanche Andretti continued to recalibrate, with BMW preparing for full retirement.
For Askew, who gets along with his teammate, it was a difficult indicator to measure, but he seems like the type of character who wanted such a challenge.
“The [Dennis] It has definitely set the standard in this series for newcomers,” says Askew.
“You see, for some guys when they come in, it clicks right away and for some it takes a little longer, but eventually they do get it.
“I think a lot of it comes down to what your natural driving style is, and if that works for Formula E then it works, but if it doesn’t then you have to adapt.
It’s clear that Andretti has been drawing up a plan to recruit the ultra-experienced Andre Lotterer to potentially join the tie-up with his powertrain supplier Porsche in 2023.
The plan has been around since around May, but is still said to be only partially agreed upon. It is a complex situation, in which Askew is not willing to get involved, at least publicly.
“No decisions have been made at this time,” he says when asked about the future.
And when asked if he had heard of the possibility of a Porsche works driver taking his seat, he said: “Honestly, no.
“I don’t know which drivers go where, and I’m not worried at all.
“If they want to have me back, I will come back. [No other options] in Formula E, but I would like to return to IndyCar if the opportunity arises.