Formula E talking points ahead of 2022 Mexico City E-Prix with all eyes on Avalanche Andretti’s Jake Dennis
WIth Formula E set to make a welcome return to the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez circuit in Mexico City this weekend, here are the main subplots to the race. Nyck de Vries, Edoardo Mortara and Jake Dennis are among the drivers to watch, while it could be another difficult outing for the rookies.
The Mexico E-Prix will be contested at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez circuit once more this season
Season 8 of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship returns to the iconic Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez circuit in Mexico City this Saturday for the 2022 Mexico City E-Prix after a two-year absence.
Last year’s Championship winner and runner-up – Mercedes-EQ’s Nyck de Vries and ROKiT Venturi Racing’s Edoardo Mortara – both took victories in the season-opening double header in Diriyah, with Mortara leading the former by four points in the Drivers’ Championship.
Here are all the talking points ahead of the weekend:
A glance at the Teams’ Championship paints an ominous picture for the grid with Mercedes-EQ being as dominant as expected while ROKiT Venturi Racing also head into Round 3 in a position of strength. Venturi on 58 points lead the German manufacturer by just one with their nearest challenger, Avalanche Andretti, 30 points behind after just two races.
ROKiT Venturi Racing are the only team on the grid who share the Mercedes powertrain with the motorsport giants. The impressive kit paid dividends in Formula E’s new qualifying format as teammates Stoffel Vandoorne and De Vries took Julius Baer Pole Position on the Friday and Saturday respectively.
De Vries led Vandoorne to deliver a one-two finish for Mercedes-EQ in the season opener, while former Audi driver and Champion Lucas Di Grassi’s P3 meant Venturi fell just one place short of repeating the trick during Mortara’s victory in race two.
A similar performance in Mexico City could see one of the pair break away from the pack and already become the heavy favourite for the teams’ title.
Dennis proving his worth
There have been fourteen British drivers in Formula E history, but none have been able to claim the Drivers’ Championship in the eight seasons of the all-electric series’ existence.
Jaguar TCS Racing’s Sam Bird has been the most consistent challenger as the only driver to win a race in every season and one of the few to have featured in every race since the series’ inception. But the Englishman has only managed one end-of-season podium place – finishing third overall in Season 4.
That could be set to change in 2022, though, after Avalanche Andretti’s Jake Dennis put in arguably the most consistent performance of the opening weekend with P3 and P5 finishes.
Reigning ‘Rookie of the Year’ Dennis said ahead of the season opener that he was confident of becoming the first British winner of Formula E and, following a strong performance, all eyes will be on the Nuneaton driver to see if he can continue his good form into Mexico City.
Rookie struggles underline strength of the grid
Antonio Giovinazzi grabbed the headlines when he joined the Formula E grid from the Alfa Romeo Formula One Team for Season 8. However, as have many others who made the switch to electric before him, the Italian found it tough in his first showing – being the last driver to cross the finish line in both races.
NIO 333’s Dan Ticktum, a fellow rookie and former Red Bull test driver, also struggled after joining from Formula 2 and sits pointless in the Drivers’ Championship.
However, there was more joy for Avalanche Andretti’s Oliver Askew, who scored points in the opening race in his first outing. But, overall, the weekend was one of difficulty for the new faces.
The rookie performances underline Formula E’s reputation as one of the most challenging formulas and is why it has managed to maintain one of the most competitive grids in motorsport.
A qualified success for Formula E’s new format
The season opener in Riyadh saw the debut of Formula E’s new ‘Champions League style’ qualifying format that has been introduced for Season 8.
The format sees two groups of 11 drivers, ordered based on their Championship position, set lap times in a 12-minute session with the fastest four from each progressing into the knockout until the final winning driver takes pole.
Feedback from the new system has been positive from the grid, with the best drivers given the freedom to show their pace in the duels. “It is a really entertaining format that is more representative of everyone’s individual performance,” TAG Heuer Porsche’s Andre Lotterer said.
“This system is fairer,” Di Grassi added. “We’re going from a system where the purpose was to create more people fighting for the championship, towards a fairer system.”
Nyck De Vries of Netherlands drives with the Mercedes Benz EQ team during the second practice as part of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship - Puebla E-Prix Round 8 at Autodromo Miguel E Abed on June 19, 2021 in Puebla, Mexico.
Image credit: Getty Images
Formula E makes welcome return to Mexico City
The Championship returns to Mexico City following a two-year absence due to the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez circuit being used as a Covid-19 vaccination centre during the early stages of the pandemic.
Its use as a vaccination centre adds to the rich history of this track, which is one of the few traditional circuits Formula E races on and is also used in Formula 1 for the Mexico Grand Prix.
The circuit hosted its first Formula 1 Grand Prix in 1962 and took its name when Mexican driver Ricardo Rodriguez, the youngest Formula 1 driver ever to race for Ferrari, died during the first day of unofficial practice of the race. Jaguar TCS Racing’s Mitch Evans was the last driver to win an E-Prix at the circuit when he put in a dominant performance in 2020 to take the lead in the Drivers’ Championship shortly before the pandemic struck.
The race has one of the most electric atmospheres on the Formula E calendar and, with the city known for its adoring motorsport fan base, the television audience at home can expect a thrilling spectacle with 40,000 fans in attendance.
The ABB FIA Formula E World Championship’s most extensive calendar to date continues in Mexico City this Saturday 12 February live on Eurosport 2 from 21.30 GMT.
Catch-up on all the information as the series builds up to the 2022 London E-Prix, which returns this year on 30 & 31 July: https://www.fiaformulae.com/en/championship/race-calendar/2021-2022/london