The ABB FIA Formula E World Championship made its first ever visit to Puebla, Mexico this weekend for Rounds 8 and 9 of Season 7 of the world’s premier all-electric racing series.
Former champion Lucas di Grassi stripped a maiden victory from Pascal Wehrlein in dramatic fashion on the Saturday to finally stamp his mark on the season, while Edoardo Mortara launched himself into title contention with victory on the Sunday.
Here are your key talking points from another dramatic and unpredictable weekend which has now crowned the Championship’s eight different winners from six teams across nine races this season.
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Magnificent Mortara sets down marker
A third-place podium finish in the Saturday CBMM Niobium Puebla E-Prix was trumped with a Sunday victory for ROKiT Venturi Racing’s Edoardo Mortara, his and the team’s second in the history of the Formula E.
Julius Baer Pole Position setter Oliver Rowland of Nissan e.dams struggled to convert his qualifying speed into race pace which allowed TAG Heuer Porsche’s Pascal Wehrlein and Mortara to establish a battle for the race victory.
It was the Venturi man who kept his composure and made full use of his extra bursts of energy to cruise into the lead and leave the young German in his wake.
Previously eighth, Mortara now leads the Drivers’ World Championship on 72 points, 10 clear of Envision Virgin Racing’s Robin Frijns, with another four drivers just another three points back in an incredibly tight title race where it remains truly all to play for.
Mexican curse blights Wehrlein again
As the camera followed Pascal Wehrlein dejected heading into the Porsche garage following Saturday’s race even the most headstrong of fans would have struggled not to sympathise with the German.
Wehrlein’s sublime drive from lights to flag which appeared to claim his and his team’s maiden Formula E victory counted for nothing when stewards confirmed the Porsches were to be disqualified for failing to declare their tyres.
And it got even worse when seeming redemption courtesy of a second-place finish in the Sunday race was chalked off after a post-race investigation which found the German guilty of improper use of FANBOOST and penalised him with five seconds added to his race time which knocked him into fourth.
It continues a rotten spell of luck for the 26-year-old in the country after famously losing out to Lucas di Grassi in the 2019 Mexico E-Prix after running out of useable energy yards from the finish line. History was to repeat itself with the Brazilian being the benefactor of Porsche’s admin error.
Saturday night’s alright for Di Grassi
On the Saturday, Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler’s Lucas di Grassi dramatically claimed victory after Wehrlein’s disqualification – the first for the former Drivers’ Championship winner since May 2019.
Wehrlein secured the Julius Baer Pole Position by 0.058s ahead of Oliver Rowland and dominated the race itself but it was not to be and instead it was di Grassi who was rewarded for driving a positive race to kickstart his season.
It had been an underwhelming year so far for both Audi and the Brazilian who began the race in 19th place in the standings and without troubling the podium so far.
But a magnificent drive having started the race in P8 ignited the former champion’s campaign and led home a one-two for Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler with Rene Rast leading to jubilation in the team garage.
Mercedes struggle again
Mercedes-EQ’s recent struggles continued in Mexico. The team had looked primed to extend their motorsport dominance in Formula E with three race victories across the first five races of the season. However, Formula E’s renowned unpredictability has since reared its head again with four retirements and minimal points to show since Nyck de Vries win at Round 5 in Valencia.
It was former championship leader De Vries who bore the brunt of the bad luck after retiring when Di Grassi collided into the back of him causing a puncture which forced him out of the Sunday race.
The German manufacturer still hold the lead in the Teams’ World Championship but that healthy advantage has fallen away to just three points. Mercedes-EQ will need to find a way to stop the rot and get back amongst the points quickly if they are to remain at the top the pack in just their second season in Formula E.
Puebla steps up to the mark
Although Mexico has been a mainstay of the Formula E calendar since 2016, this was the first race to take place at the Autodromo Miguel E. Abed in Puebla, with the usual track at the Autodromo Hermnos Rodriguez in Mexico City currently used as a COVID-19 vaccination centre.
Formula E is known for its spectacular street racing be it at New York’s Red Hook across the river from the Manhattan skyline, or under the nose of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
However, the more than 10,000 fans in attendance each day were treated to a spectacle on a less traditional permanent track with some magnificent wheel-to-wheel racing on show, a reminder of the series’ versatility across track locations.
The ABB FIA Formula E World Championship returns on Saturday and Sunday July 10/11 for the New York E-Prix double-header live on Eurosport 2.
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