When Lucas di Grassi crossed the line in Mexico City following an inspired drive and even more inspired tactics by his Abt Schaeffler Audi Sport team, it didn’t just earn the Brazilian his first win of the season, it also threw the title race wide open.
Having struggled to a lowly 15th in qualifying, di Grassi went into the race seeking to minimize the points deficit to his title rival Sebastien Buemi, which had stretched to an enormous 29 points prior to the second running of the Mexico City ePrix.
Buemi’s run of three straight wins in the opening three races of the series set a new Formula E record and seemed to have put him in an insurmountable position at the head of the championship. But after starting from a disappointing seventh, any hopes he had of stretching his winning streak to four races ended when he had a quick spin at Turn 1 as he attempted to battle his way up the order.
He rejoined the race, but way down in the pack, leaving him with only the bonus point for the Visa Fastest Lap to play for. By backing off to ensure he had some clear track to play with, he duly set a new lap record – his seventh in Formula E to date – and that extra point ensured that the championship lead was cut to just five points. How crucial could that prove to be come the end of the season?
Di Grassi’s first win of the season – his fifth in Formula E – was his second amazing fightback in just four races. A crash in qualifying left him at the back of the grid for the season-opener in Hong Kong, and an opening-lap crash broke his front wing. But once again his team was quick-thinking and strategically daring and they made all the right calls to get him into an incredible second place.
Both team and driver were unusually off the pace in Marrakesh and di Grassi was a distant fifth. They responded in style in Argentina and di Grassi scored his first Julius Baer Pole Position. He led for the opening part of the race, but was unable to keep Buemi and the TECHEETAH of Jean-Eric Vergne at bay, so had to settle for third.
Then came his sensational result in Mexico, which has reignited the championship battle as the all-electric series heads to Europe.
A string of three fourth places and a fifth place have kept Nico Prost on the fringe of the title fight, but have ensured that Renault e.dams – winners of both teams’ championships in Formula E thus far – have a commanding lead in the standings.
After back-to-back second places, Vergne fancies his chances of making the title battle a three-way fight. The new TECHEETAH team has been getting more and more competitive as the season has progressed, and it was only the obduracy of Jerome D’Ambrosio in Mexico that prevented him from taken a maiden Formula E win last time out.
A superb overtake around the outside of D’Ambrosio in Mexico earned Sam Bird third place, which together with his second in Marrakesh means he is fifth in points. He was in contention for the win in Hong Kong when his DS Virgin Racing car died in the pits, while a crash in Buenos Aires resulted in his second no-score of the season.
Two Visa Fastest Laps, a Julius Baer pole position and third place in Marrakesh mean it’s been a strong start to life in Formula E for Felix Rosenqvist. However, the Swede was out of luck in Mexico, where he was left with nowhere to go after Prost tipped Nick Heidfeld into a spin and crashed into his Mahindra Racing team-mate, taking both cars out.
Daniel Abt thought he’d taken the second Julius Baer Pole Position of his career in Mexico, but his car was found to have illegal tyre pressures and his times were disqualified. It was typical of the bad luck that the German always seems to suffer. Still he recovered to seventh, which together with the sixth he scored in Marrakesh and seventh in Buenos Aires means he’s seventh in points.
Heidfeld drove a strong race to open the season with third place in Hong Kong. He didn’t enjoy the bumping and brawling in Marrakesh where he finished ninth, but failed to trouble the scorers in the past two races.
Season 1 champion Nelson Piquet Jr was the surprise pole man in Hong Kong, but technical issues hampered him in the race. He was a very competitive fifth in Argentina, but was frustrated by the strategy call in Mexico, which led to him taking a distant ninth.
Piquet’s NextEV NIO team-mate Oliver Turvey scored his first Julius Baer Pole Position in Mexico City and was leading the race when his car suddenly ground to a halt. It was a bitter blow for the Brit, who’s scored points in every race so far this season to lie 10th in the championship.
The accident between the Mahindra drivers in Mexico allowed Mitch Evans to nip through to fourth place and score the first ever Formula E points for Panasonic Jaguar Racing. With his team-mate Adam Carroll coming home eighth, it was a bumper haul of 16 points, which has moved it up to ninth in the teams’ standings.
Venturi has slipped to 10th. After getting both Maro Engel and Stephane Sarrazin into the points in Hong Kong, it hasn’t troubled the scorers since, with Engel in particular suffering a raft of technical issues. The German did a great job to make the Super Pole shoot-out in Mexico City. He set the second fastest time too, but a 10-place grid penalty for a gearbox change at the previous race dropped him down the grid.
The Andretti team started the season strongly with Antonio Felix da Costa fifth and Robin Frijns sixth in Hong Kong. But despite often showing competitive pace there have been no more points since.
Faraday Future Dragon Racing team-mates D’Ambrosio and Duval always seem to be in a battle of their own on track, but unfortunately this has seldom been at the sharp end of the top 10. Duval was a strong sixth in Buenos Aires – the team’s best result of the season – but compared to the finishes of Season 1 and 2, it’s been a disappointing return so far.
Sixth place in Mexico City was Jose Maria Lopez’s best result to date, but the Argentine was leading the race after Turvey retired before spinning out as he tried to get back to the front after the pitstops. That race was also the debut for Esteban Gutierrez, who replaced Ma Qing Hua at TECHEETAH, and delivered a point on his debut by finishing 10th.