Formula E heads to Mexico for the fourth round of the season with Bird and Virgin leading the championships, a new driver in the field. We preview what to look out for in Mexico.
What to look out for
After crashes in qualifying in both Ad Diriyah and Marrakesh, and enduring a horror weekend in Santiago with numerous electrical problems, Max Günther has been replaced at the Penske run Geox Dragon team by Daytona 24hr runner up and former Sauber F1 driver Felipe Nasr. Nasr, who has been racing in stock and sportscars since 2018, has not driven a single seater since the 2016 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and has not driven a Formula E car in an official session, but was entered in the post-Marrakesh rookie test with Dragon, though he did not manage to take to the track. Günther himself has stated he will be back in the future as a test and replacement driver, and is possibly scheduled to replace Nasr in Rome, which clashes with the IMSA race at Long Beach in April.
Has Günther raced his last in Formula E?
The qualifying session in Santiago saw a huge track evolution effect, where none of the championship leading drivers in the first qualifying group able to make the top half of the grid, let alone the super pole session. Last season's champion Jean Eric Vergne was particularly critical of the format, calling it unfair and a "joke" that the championship leaders were so severely handicapped. Vergne qualified fastest of the top 5 drivers heading to Chile in 13th, but had a race to forget after being passed by Frijns at the start before being rear ended by Da Costa, who was himself hit by Vergne's team mate Lotterer, then retiring after suffering an unusual spin later in the race. Frijns and D'Ambrosio did manage to make it into the points from 15th and 20th on the grid though.
Last season's Mexico ePrix saw a similar track evolution as the dusty conditions at the start of qualifying meant Di Grassi's 11th fastest time in qualifying was the best anyone from group 1 could manage (last season the group order was decided by lottery). With both cars in the top 5 of the drivers championship the Envision Virgin team could be most significantly affected, while Pascal Wehrlein could be in the idea position to take advantage from group 2 after a breakthrough performance in Santiago. Season 2 champion Buemi and DS Techeetah's Lotterer will also qualify in group 2.
Last season's Mexico ePrix was won by Daniel Abt of the Audi team, his first of 2 wins last season, with Oliver Turvey and Sebastian Buemi also finishing on the podium. The only predicable things about Formula E are that it is unpredictable and that Sam Bird will win a race, and so far in season 5 there have been 3 race winners and 7 different podium finishers. With victory in Santiago, Bird has now recorded a win in every season of Formula E, only Lucas Di Grassi is able to match that record if he can win in season 5. After another slow start, last seasons team champions Audi will want a repeat of last years Mexico win; while the e.dams squad, now running under the Nissan banner, also need a win to kick start their championship after Buemi crashed out of the lead in Santiago, in the same place he crashed in practice, with an unspecified brake-by-wire issue.
Daniel Abt sprays the champaign after winning the 2018 Mexico ePrix.
It is rare for an ePrix to be penalty free and a number of penalties have been handed out through the first 3 races of season 5 - see our feature on why so many penalties are awarded here for more details. The potential of a mixed up grid also means that quicker drivers could be making up ground through the race, which will help the on track action.
Formula 1 and McLaren reject Stoffel Vandoorne has carried his bad luck to Formula E as he is yet to finish a race, despite impressing in qualifying for all three events (he started from the back in Marrakesh after a losing power in the final sector), qualifying 4th and 5th in Ad Diriyah and Santiago. Vandoorne has topped the fan boost voting in every event though he has yet to survive long enough in a race to actually make use of it. Da Costa, Massa, Abt and Buemi have also been popular among the voting fans. The front wheel pod of Vandoorne lays strewn on the track in Santiago.
How the championships stand
Between the chequered flag and the official race result in Santiago Sam Bird inherited the lead of the driver's championship, as Jerome D'Ambrosio was handed a 5 second penalty after the race for speeding under full course yellow conditions. With fellow Virgin driver Robin Frijns also in the top 5 the Virgin team top the teams championship by 12 points from Mahindra who's rookie driver Pascal Wehrlein has broken into the top 10 after a stand-out performance in Santiago - making the super pole and a podium finish.
Top 10 drivers
|3||Da Costa||BMW i Andretti||34|
Six drivers are yet to score a championship point, including the fan boost favourite and perennially unlucky Stoffel Vandoorne, Felipe Massa, Tom Dillmann, Gary Paffett, Max Günther (who may have competed in his last event this season) and Felix Rosenqvist (who was only scheduled to compete in one event in Ad Diriyah). Paffett and Vandoorne's non-scores mean the HWA team is the only team yet to score a point.
Teams championship standing
|4||BMW i Andretti||46|