Formula E's shock new leader is going to be hard to shift - The Race
Formula E

Formula E’s shock new leader is going to be hard to shift

Jun 24 2021
By Sam Smith

It is fair to say that Edoardo Mortara and the Venturi team have been a slightly unfancied package in Formula E this year.

But their combined quiet determination led to them vanquishing all rivals in Mexico last weekend.

Jun 23 : Porsche penalties, di Grassi's gain - Mexico E-Prix review

A combined points score of 40 points across the Puebla double-header surged Mortara to the top of the championship.

That he went into the weekend in 11th position, 30 points in arrears of erstwhile leader Robin Frijns, and emerged from it with a 10-point lead underlines the psychedelic tombola of Formula E’s latest madcap title fight.

Could Mortara actually win this thing, though?

In the post-race press conference, he said “it is still early in the season,” which of course it technically isn’t. There are just three events to go and six races.

Yes, that is 180 points available but such is the arrest in some drivers’ points hauls – Frijns and Nyck de Vries to name just two – that yes Mortara has a real chance of taking his first championship title since the 2010 F3 Euro Series crown. The fact that he is in a Mercedes-Benz EQ Silver Arrow 02 adds a nice sheen of plausibility.

Still though, the surprise-package tag sits well with Mortara.

Edoardo Mortara wins Puebla Formula E 2021

Quietly charismatic, he exudes a depth in his racing not often found in some of his younger peers. His career was defined on the streets of Macau but in Formula E he’s had to ride out some serious troughs.

There has also been an element of grinding out the results Mortara and Venturi earned at Puebla. As the missed opportunities accrued, the pressure mounted because plainly the team has one of the best technical packages on the grid.

While Oliver Rowland and Pascal Wehrlein stole the pace headlines over the two days of Puebla, Mortara had a sense of confidence for Sunday which derived from aspects of his run to third 24 hours earlier.

On that occasion, Mortara gently overrode some decisions from his team as he elected to go with his gut feel. He elected not to aggressively resist the quicker Audis knowing it would likely end in tears.

He was of course not to know Wehrlein would get a penalty and those Audis would end up 1-2, and perhaps a season or two ago that would have stung significantly and unsteadied him. But now, a cooler head appears to be at play in the Venturi cockpit.

Even in victory Mortara seemed in control as he articulated his thoughts immediately after the race, explaining that not only did he have to deal with Wehrlein’s Porsche on the hunt but also major wear on both tyre and track.

“Pascal was obviously very, very strong,” he said.

Edoardo Mortara leads Pascal Wehrlein Puebla Formula E 2021

“We decided probably to spend a bit more energy in the first part of the race and then the second part, especially in the last 10 laps, he had more energy than me.

“So I had to find a way in the last laps, to let’s say, save some energy and still be quite quick.

“It was difficult to resist him, he was extremely quick and I was also suffering from quite a lot of problems with the tyres and the track was falling apart too. Turns 7, 9, 11 was a surprise every lap.”

While Puebla crumbled, Mortara planted himself firmly at the front and managed the pace expertly to win by a comfortable 2.2 seconds.

Jerome d'Ambrosio Edoardo Mortara

On the TV monitors deputy team principal Jerome d’Ambrosio, standing in for an absent Susie Wolff, in Mexico had the look of a man who knew Mortara was going to bring it home.

The three time E-Prix winner was adamant that the success was like a chain-link coming together. Venturi knew that so many of the constituent parts were in place but needed assembling properly.

“We’ve had potential and we’ve had pace and performance all season but it was putting it together, and putting it together in Formula E is a challenge,” said d’Ambrosio.

“We worked hard to be able to make sure that we would be able to put everything together and don’t do anything crazy or out of the box – just deliver the weekend – and that’s what the whole team managed to do.

“Edo drove absolutely fantastic but to be honest with you all weekend he was fantastic.”

Mortara spent the large part of early March sat or laying down as he recovered from his terrifying Diriyah shunt. As ever with these experiences things get put into perspective.

Now, having announced himself as a possible serious title contender the clarity of thought, performance and execution of his craft is looking crystal clear.

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