Formula E: 10 Takeaways From The Mexico City E-Prix

Jake Dennis, Avalanche Andretti Formula E, 1st position, Podium - Mexico City E-Prix

The Mexico City E-Prix opened Season 9, staging an intense debut weekend. Here are the major takeaways from the first round.

1 – Free Practice 1

The first Free Practice of the year told us everything and nothing at the same time. Jean-Eric Vergne set the fastest time, followed by Jake Hughes and Sergio Sette Camara. Running the second fastest time, Hughes gave the first positive sign from McLaren, one of the new entries of Season 9. But with so many unknowns, you couldn’t guess which team would come out victorious from the weekend.

2 – Free Practice 2

During the second session, Pascal Wehrlein took the top of the time charts, but the last round of free practice wasn’t helpful for anyone, with the track being too cold for the new and hard tires. Second was Jean-Eric Vergne, with Sergio Sette Camara once again in third, giving hope to NIO for a good opening race. At the end of the practice, there was only one question: who would take pole position?

3 – The Andretti Show

The first round of Qualifying Duels was full of surprises, with a strong performance by Lucas Di Grassi, who took pole against Jake Dennis. Di Grassi capitalized on mistakes by his opponents in the semi-final and final rounds. However, the strong performance of Andretti was a sign of what was ahead in the race. Both Dennis and Andre Lotterer reached the semifinals. Could this first weekend have marked the beginning of a dominant era for Andretti and the motorized Porsche teams?

4 – Maserati’s Disappointing Debut

The Mexico City E-Prix was tough for Maserati. Neither Edoardo Mortara nor Maximilian Gunther reached the Qualifying Duels, starting P16 and P17 on the grid. The Monaco-based team didn’t collect even a point during the race, with Mortara retiring after spinning into the barriers at Turn 1 and Gunther finishing eleventh. Difficulties from a new team were predictable, but the expectations for Maserati’s debut were high. The season is long, so Maserati has plenty of time to correct these early mistakes.

5 – Frijns’ bad luck

ABT’s driver Robin Frijns had to retire from the race after a collision with Norman Nato during the first lap. For the Dutch driver, it was the first DNF after two full seasons in Formula E, putting an end to his record streak. The team announced Frijns will go under surgery on a broken left wrist in Mexico, hoping to recover in time for Dyriah’s round in two weeks. Frijns’ injury puts ABT in a more difficult situation, after a not-so-brilliant start of the season.

6 – An Outstanding Hughes

The surprise of the weekend was, without any doubt, McLaren’s pace and the performance of Jake Hughes. The British driver advanced to the qualifying semifinals and started the E-Prix in third position, anticipating a great performance in the race. After a tense E-Prix, spent fighting for the podium, Hughes finished fifth, just behind Lotterer. After the race, Hughes noted that it was one of the most difficult races of his life as he adjusts to the demands of the Formula E energy management system. McLaren can leave Mexico City happy with its results, preparing the team for the next round, where maybe, they can achieve their first podium.

7 – The New Tires

The new Hankook compound got everyone in trouble, especially during the Qualifying session. For this year, FIA chose the most eco-friendly, but harder, compound that Hankook offered. While the choice had been coherent with Formula E’s philosophy, it represents an ulterior difficulty for teams and drivers. As we saw during the Mexico City E-Prix, warming up these new tires take many laps and they provide less grip. This element, together with the added power, put several drivers in trouble. And with the Gen3 all-wheel drive cars, understeer is more common.

8 – The delusion of DS Penske

Another team that had a tough start was DS Penske, which leaves Mexico City with only one point, collected by the reigning champion Stoffel Vandoorne. Even if during Free Practice Vergne seemed to be competitive, he finished the E-Prix in 12th after running out of energy as they approached the checkered flag. It wasn’t the best way to begin Season 9, and both drivers, but especially Vandoorne, have to come back the next round, to defend the Belgian’s title and put pressure on the Porsche-powered teams.

9 – The beginning of the battle

After only one round, talking about the title would be exaggerated, but there are already teams and drivers that collected a decent amount of points. Of course, top of the Team Standings there is Andretti, with a 12-point lead over Porsche. On the drivers’ side, Dennis is first with 26 points, followed by Wehrlein and Di Grassi, both with 18 points, thanks to Di Grassi picking up three points for securing pole position.

10 – The Great Success of the Mexico City E-Prix

The audience loved the first round of Season 9, with 40,000 people in the stands during the E-Prix. Formula E is becoming more and more popular and Gen3 could help the category to improve the battle on the track and attract more fans. The winner Jake Dennis stated at the end of the race:

“The fans here have been sensational. In that final lap, I could really hear them cheering!”

Featured Image Credit: Formula E