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Blast from the Past: 2022 Mexico City E-Prix

Updated: Feb 4

Written by Jacob Awcock, Edited by Meghana Sree


In 2022, Formula E returned to the dizzying heights of Mexico City for Round Three of the ABB Formula E World Championship.


The previous time out in Diriyah, it was Edoardo Mortara who won and consequently took top spot in the championship standings. A four-point gap separated him and Mercedes driver Nyck de Vries, with the rest of the field in close pursuit.


Porsche showcased dominant form in qualifying to secure first and third, with Pascal Wehrlein set to start on pole position ahead of championship leader Mortara. Andre Lotterer would line up in third place with Vergne behind.


de Vries, who sat second in the championship before the race began, started sixth, and would have a lot of ground to cover if he had any hope of keeping second place in the championship. 


Race day came and all eyes were drawn to the front row, with the question on everyone's lips being who would lead into the first corner. Both Wehrlein and Mortara had similar, aggressive styles of driving so it was bound to be interesting to see who would make it through the first corner unscathed. 


As the start lights blinked out, it was Mortara who got the better start of the pair, but Wehrlein was not going to let him past. He aggressively lunged to the right to cut Mortara off, preventing him from getting past, and giving Lotterer an invitation to try a move around the outside. Mortara covered this move well and the field all managed to pass through the first corner with their cars intact. 


Yet more action was to come – further back, Nick Cassidy sensed an opportunity on not one, but two drivers. Following a stellar start, Max Gunther was looking to pass Robin Frijns up front but as Frijns covered going into Turn Nine, Gunther was left vulnerable to an attacking Vandoorne.


The Belgian looked to the inside but, in his slipstream, Cassidy pulled out and went down the inside of the pair of them, only just keeping his car on the track.


Vandoorne managed to squeeze past Gunther, then immediately went on the attack to Cassidy as the field shot out of the baseball stadium and onto the start-finish straight to conclude a frantic first lap. 


But as the race was just beginning for some it was ending for another. Alexander Sims, who had crashed out of the first round of the championship, wasn't having any better luck in Mexico as he pulled his stricken Mahindra off to the side of the track with damage.   


Alexander Sims was not having a good start to the season, with two retirements in three races; Image Credits: Manuel Velasquez/Getty Images

As the clock slowly ticked down, the front three switched on to Attack Mode, Lotterer taking it first, followed by Mortara and then Wehrlein. However, the extra minute of Attack Mode for the former two had allowed them to close the gap to Wehrlein.


As the trio shot onto the start-finish straight, Mortara sensed a chance and dived to the inside; Wehrlein aggressively defended but it was too late, Mortara shot down the inside and into the lead.


Yet more good news was to come Mortara’s way, as his closest championship rival, de Vries, was slowly slipping down the order and had been passed by both Envisions – demoting him to eighth place, into the clutches of Vandoorne and the queue of cars stacked up behind him. 


As the front three pulled a gap with their Attack Mode engaged, the rest of the pack opted to follow suit and take it over the course of two laps. Vandoorne would hold position in eighth yet his teammate would not get the same dose of luck.


He took Attack Mode too late and, with a flying Lucas di Grassi behind, slipped down to the fringe of the points in tenth. The whole of the chasing pack had now taken their Attack Modes and were locked in position, conserving energy to use for a final push late on. 


Mortara had begun to pull a gap to the two Porches who remained close but not close enough to attack. They had their mirrors full of the two DS Techeetah cars trailing closely.


The lead DS Techeetah was Vergne, who had two minutes of Attack Mode left, providing him with an extra 10KW of power to attack with, sensing an opportunity to take a podium place or two. He began to pile pressure on Lotterer trying to force him into a mistake, but the German was having none of it. 


The pair approached the left-hander of Turn Three, which Lotterer defended by taking the inside line. However, this made him much slower coming out of the corner and, with extra speed and Attack Mode, Vergne pulled up alongside. The pair were wheel-to-wheel heading into Turns Four and Five, with Lotterer having a slight advantage. 


As they exited the Turn Five hairpin, still wheel-to-wheel, Lotterer got much better acceleration and managed to cut in front of Vergne; but his attack wasn’t over yet. With his teammate beginning to close in, Vergne had to make a pass soon.


Coming out onto the back straight, Vergne, with much greater speed, pulled out from behind the Porsche’s slipstream and dived down the inside of Turn Nine and took third place. Meanwhile, his teammate da Costa sensed a chance and followed down the inside of the same corner. 


One lap later, Vergne continued his charge, this time on the other Porsche at the same corner. Still with a small amount of Attack Mode left, Vergne had been able to close the one second gap and was tucked up under Wehrlein’s rear bumper as they shot onto the back straight. In an identical move Vergne moved to the inside and passed Wehrlein in the braking zone to take second place. 


The top two, once again, began to pull away from the chasing pack with Wehrlein slowly falling into the clutches of da Costa and Lotterer. He needed to catch up to Vergne and went to take Attack Mode heading into the stadium section.


But da Costa hadn't anticipated this and as Wehrlein cut across his path, he slammed into the rear of him, causing a large amount of damage to the front of his car.


The Porsche driver managed to take Attack Mode and maintain his position but da Costa was clearly feeling the pain from his little incident. He was passed by Lotterer and Frijns, despite da Costa’s best attempt at a defensive move which nearly ended in contact.


While one Envision was making progress another was slipping back. Sitting in a precarious seventh place with di Grassi right on his bumper, Cassidy was beginning to conserve energy as he had used a lot of it up at the start.


As he headed into Turn Five, he was unaware of the attacking di Grassi who was attempting an audacious move down the inside. Cassidy began to turn in but saw di Grassi and backed, however di Grassi, with way too much speed, locked up and forced Cassidy wide.


This allowed Vandoorne to go down the inside, as the pair were squabbling miles away from the racing line, and pass Cassidy while di Grassi was able to recover and claim seventh place.


As they all headed down the back straight, di Grassi activated his Fanboost to help him defend against Cassidy and de Vries, who were pressed close up behind. de Vries needed to revitalise his race and started this comeback by passing Cassidy into Turn Nine, to take ninth place.


30,000 fans watched Formula E in Mexico with the majority being seated in the stadium section; Image Credits: Manuel Velasquez/Getty Images


With 15 minutes left, the energy figures were revealed to the teams and fans. Out in front, Mortara was the worst of the front five with 35% energy left, while the two Porches had 2% more that could be used for attack later on.


Mortara would have to re-generate energy to get his amount back to a competitive level - otherwise he would be in trouble come the end of the race. 


Wehrlein had managed to reign Vergne in with his Attack Mode and, with 1% more energy now, began to make use of it and passed him into Turn One for second place.


It looked like Vergne was beginning to struggle, as he was passed by the other Porsche of Lotterer, and then Frijns, now losing third and fourth place as well, dropping well out of the podium places. Wehrlein sensed a win and began to hunt down Mortara for the lead.


It didn't take long. One lap later, Wehrlein was there and looking to take the lead of the race. As the pair turned onto the main straight, the 30,000 fans that had come to watch this spectacle of a race stood to watch as Wehrlein moved to the inside of Mortara.


Sensing this was a futile fight, Mortara made little defensive effort and Wehrlein swiftly moved ahead. Him and teammate Lotterer now had two percent more energy left than the rest of the top five, which he used to dispatch Mortara and make it a Porsche one-two, their first ever. 


Mortara was having to conserve more and more energy and it wasn't long before Frijns kicked him off the podium with a classic move down the inside, taking third place with seven minutes plus one lap still remaining.


But fast forward five minutes, and he was down to sixth place with both Vergne and da Costa managing to pass into the same corner – both with the same amount of energy as the Porsches up front.   


Yet more drama was set to occur. Energy amounts are all calculated prior to the race to fit around lap times. All this is done to ensure that, as the clock ticks down, drivers would have enough energy left to complete the one extra lap added on at the end. 


However, somehow, all the teams had miscalculated. The whole field was now on 5% or 4% energy which, as the leaders crossed the line with 11 seconds left, meant there was not enough energy to complete the two remaining laps.


Those with less energy such as Evans, Rowland, and Bird — all occupying seventh, eight, and ninth respectively — were in big trouble and had a very slim chance of reaching the chequered flag in their current positions.


Pascal Wehrlein claimed Porsche’s first race win with a commanding performance; Image Credits: Manuel Velasquez/Getty Images

Despite the late scare, Porsche held on to complete a historic feat: The team’s maiden Formula E race win, and one-two finish. Vergne took third from da Costa, who both passed a struggling Mortara on the final lap. 


Even with all the drama, Mortara extended his lead at the top to five points with de Vries staying second, having finished in sixth place. Evans, Rowland, and Bird all dropped out of the top ten, allowing the two Nissans to take a surprise eighth and ninth, behind Frijns who had had similar energy issues in the closing stages.


Having been in 17th place as the clock ran out, Jake Dennis took the final points position for Andretti, concluding what had been a spectacular and dramatic race throughout. 


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