Formula E: Pascal Wehrlein wins Mexico City E-Prix

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TAG Heuer Porsche’s Pascal Wehrlein converted a narrow pole position to a commanding win in the season-opening Mexico City E-Prix, and kept his victory despite a post-race technical investigation. F1Technical's senior writer Balázs Szabó reports on the first race of Formula E's Season 10.

The first qualifying session of the 2024 Formula E season saw Pascal Wehrlein set the quickest lap, beating former F1 driver Sébastien Buemi by two and a half tenth. Nyck de Vries, who returned to the series following his short stint in Formula One, came no further than the very last place in his Mahindra. The two Jaguars and Stoffel Vandoorne all incurred a one-place grid penalty for ignoring a red flag in practice.

At the start, Pascal Wehrlein maintained the lead into the first corner, followed by Sebastien Buemi and Maximilian Guenther. Elsewhere, Lucas di Grassi went off the track at Turn 11, dropping from P18 to the last position. Although the former Formula E champion could continue. he was forced to retire from the race with a brake-related issue.

The next lap saw Robin Frijns make up a place following a difficult start, overtaking Nico Mueller into Turn 1. His team later confirmed that he had a technical issue which saw him struggle to get off the line.

After two laps, race leader Wehlerin held an advantage of seven tenths of a second from Buemi. The German driver opted to activate his first two-minute power boost, dropping back to second with Buemi taking over the lead.

On Lap 3, Antonio Felix da Costa attempted an ambitious overtaking move on Nico Mueller, but instead of a clean manoeuvre, he darted into the Abt Formula E car. Mueller span around, hitting the barriers with the back of his car, but both drivers managed to continue.

The next lap saw Buemi going for a six-minute attack mode which allowed Wehrlein to regain the lead. Multiple drivers - including Nick Cassidy, Jakes Hughes, Sam Bird, Edoardo Mortara, Oliver Rowland, Dan Ticktum, and Jahan Daruvala - elected to use the additional power mode.

On Lap 8, Wehrlein activated his second power boost which allowed Buemi to jump into the lead for the second time in the season-opening race.

The same lap saw Frijns crash his Envision Formula E car into the barriers at Turn 17 with the incident having triggered a safety car interruption. The Porsche Taycan spent three laps on the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez before the action was resumed on Lap 12.

With Buemi taking his second power boost following the restart, Wehrlein regained the lead from the Swiss driver. The former Sauber F1 driver quickly managed to build up a gap of a second from Buemi. However, the former Toro Rosso F1 racer managed to react to Wehrlein's speed, setting the quickest lap on Lap 16.

With 14 laps left, the order was Wehrlein, Buemi, Cassidy, Guenther, Evans, Vergne, Hughes, Vandoorne, Dennis and Bird in the top ten.

On Lap 26, Wehrlein carried an advantage of just over two seconds from Buemi, but the Swiss was eager to close in on his German rival. In the meantime, Vergne closed in on Evans, who appeared to be unable to keep up with fourth-placed Guenther.

On Lap 31, Sam Bird became the second-to-last driver to activate his power boost with the British driver dropping down the order to P14 as he went through the activation zone.

Although Buemi attempted to decrease the gap to race leader Wehrlein, he was unable to get closer than 1.7 seconds.

Formula E Race Director Scott Elkins confirmed that two laps would be added to the race distance due to the safety car interruption.

With only four laps to go, Evans made a mistake in the final sector which allowed Vergne to get within touching distance. At the same time, a huge pack built up behind Evans and Vergne with Hughes, Vandoorne, Dennis, Nato, Rowland, and Fenestraz all closing on the two drivers fighting for fifth place.

At the front of the field, there was no change in the closing stages with Wehrlein taking a commanding victory in the season-opening Mexico City E-Prix, beating Buemi and Cassidy.

Guenther took fourth for Maserati with Evans having been able to cling on to fifth position despite the lack of pace in the dying stages of the race. Two-time Formula E champion Vergne finished in P6 just four tenths of a second behind Evans, followed by McLaren's Hughes with Vandoorne, reigning champion Dennis and Nato completing the point-scoring top ten.

Commenting on his win for Porsche, Wehrlein said: “It was a tough race because we were leading most of the race and that’s not so efficient for energy – but every lap was like a qualifying lap, trying to maximise speed.

"I saw a small mistake behind me which created a small gap, and from then I think it was pretty controlled. Thanks a lot to my team and thanks to all the fans here, it’s always a great to be here in Mexico; it’s a great atmosphere. I’m already looking forward to coming back next year.”