Written by Olly Radley, Edited by Simran Kanthi
Following the first edition of the 2023 Formula E season, I thought I’d recap the big winners from the weekend, as well as the unfortunate losers. There were stories and shocks throughout the weekend, all of which attributed to the names that made this list.
Winner - Jake Dennis
Starting off with the most obvious pick for a winner from the Mexico City E-Prix weekend and it’s of course the race winner, Jake Dennis. A mistake in the qualifying duel finals placed Dennis and his Porsche-powered Andretti on the front-row behind pole sitter Lucas di Grassi. This strong quali result was achieved despite having to compete in the semis and the final with half a wing, having damaged it in his quarter-final duel with Pascal Wehrlein.
In the race it was simply a textbook Jake Dennis win that he’s achieved time and time again in his two seasons in Formula E. Dennis sat patiently behind di Grassi throughout the messy first lap and two subsequent safety cars. As soon as racing resumed though, Jake went hunting for the lead. After multiple laps of hustling and pressuring the Brazilian, Dennis forced his way down the inside of turn 5. With his pace advantage over di Grassi, and di Grassi now having to prevent the onslaught of Hughes and Wehrlein behind, Dennis could breeze away to a dominant win in the season opener. In the end, it was a win by 7.8 seconds to Pascal Wehrlein behind to seal a Porsche-powered 1-2 (much like last year) and a fourth career win for Dennis. Jake kicked off Season 8 in similar fashion with a strong P3 finish behind the two Mercs. This was, however, his last podium until the London E-Prix 12 races later. Let’s hope that this time it’s a good omen for the season ahead.
Loser - Dan Ticktum
The first “loser” of the season is Dan Ticktum, although he’s not really here by his own doing. Practice and quali both suggested that a solid points score was on its way for Ticktum and Nio, however following some misfortune and a mistake, Ticktum found himself dead last and empty-handed at the end of the weekend.
His teammate Sergio Sette Camara showed that Nio had something up their sleeve in practice, P3 in FP2 ahead of qualifying suggested that Nio could be capable of an upset later on that day in quali and the E-Prix. Our man Dan Ticktum then delivered on that promise in qualifying. In group B, Ticktum finished just two tenths behind Dennis at the top of the timings, seeing him advance to the duels stage to face off against his countryman Jake Hughes on his Formula E debut with McLaren. A narrow tenth and a half loss in this duel settled Ticktum’s starting position of 5th as the fastest driver to get knocked out at the quarter-final stage.
With an immense starting position and a car that looked solid, Dan seemed destined for points to see Nio kick off Season 9 on a very positive note. This, though, is where his weekend began to unravel. Following the end of the second safety car, a drive-through penalty nullified any chance of Ticktum delivering on his brilliant qualifying. The salt in the wound for Dan was that he overpowered during the movement from the dummy grid to the actual grid before the race had actually gotten underway. The final nail in the coffin was a 10-second penalty later on in the race for cutting the turn 9 chicane and gaining an advantage. A weekend of great promise for Ticktum and positive signs for the season ahead, but no reward.
Winner - Lucas di Grassi
Next we have a man who you could argue had the best weekend of anyone. During the commentary of the race, Jack Nicholls even went as far as to say that di Grassi’s Mexico City E-Prix performance was possibly “one of the best of his Formula E career”.
In his first race with midfield regulars Mahindra, I don’t think anyone expected a pole position from Lucas di Grassi, who before Saturday had just 3 Formula E pole positions to his name. The race was testament to di Grassi’s ability and racing style. With faster cars queuing up behind throughout the race, Lucas was able to prevent the onslaught of quick and hungry drivers behind. With only Dennis and Wehrlein getting away, P3 was di Grassi’s final result. A deserving result for someone who drove an exceptional race in poor equipment.
Loser - DS Penske
For other teams, P10 and P12 wouldn’t be considered a bad result. However, given the general expectation of the DS Penske team, a P10 and P12 is enough to put them on the “losers” list.
Even after their qualifying positions of 11th and 14th, expectations were still high for the black and gold Penske squad. The race was quite simply underwhelming. It wasn’t even a case of Penske showing promise and having decent pace but losing a good result to some bad luck. Just throughout the race they showed no promise and had bang average pace from start to finish. In the end it was P10 for Vandoorne and P12 for Vergne. Disappointing for Penske and lots of room for improvement.
Winner - Jake Hughes
Our final winner from the season opener could’ve been multiple people but in the end I’ve opted for McLaren debutant Jake Hughes. A very mature drive from someone who’s worked hard over the past few years to get his promotion to a Formula E race seat from the reserve role he’s occupied since 2021.
Hughes was quite simply the most consistent driver throughout the weekend. P2 in FP1 and P6 in FP2 set the Brit up perfectly for his Formula E qualifying debut in which he finished 3rd in Group B to advance to the duels. In his quarter-final against Dan Ticktum, the #5 Papaya McLaren eased past his countryman to later get beaten by the eventual race winner Jake Dennis by a similar margin.
Starting from the second row in the race meant Hughes would always be under pressure during the race but would of course have the opportunity to capatalise on any misfortune for those infront and challenge for the race win. Di Grassi and Dennis both drove stellar races in front of him however, and Hughes had to spend most of his race defending from those behind. The only two to get through were Wehrlein and Lotterer meaning a finishing position of P5 to perfectly wrap up a brilliant and solid weekend for Jake.
Loser - Abt Cupra Racing
Finally, our last “loser” is Abt Cupra, who’re on the losers list for a similar reason to DS Penske. A very simply underwhelming weekend for a team with a great pair of drivers and a lot of promise. After the announcement of Abt’s return, there was a fair amount of anticipation that they’d be able to recapture the glory of their past selves when partnered with Audi. Following testing and the recent Mexico City E-Prix, it’s clear that Abt will need some time to be able to return to their previous selves.
20th and 21st in FP1 and FP2 made it very clear where to pitch your expectations of Abt for the weekend ahead. While they weren’t going to be out and out backmarkers, they weren’t going to be challenging for any wins, podiums, and potentially even points. Frijns managed 10th in Group A while his teammate Muller finished 9th in Group B meaning the pair would start line of stern in 18th and 19th on the grid. Muller’s drive was uninspiring, but Frijns’ was even worse having not finished the first racing lap in a scrappy incident at the turn 9 chicane, which also resulted in a fractured wrist for the Dutchman, which could put him out of action for the upcoming Diriyah double-header. 0 Points in their Formula E debut; a lot to work on; and a spot on the losers list for Abt Cupra Racing
I do hope you enjoyed this article, let me know in the comments below who you think should or shouldn’t be on here. From me though, it’s goodbye for now.