With an oval corner, innovative ‘joker lap’ attack mode and disqualification for a race winner, last weekend’s Formula E double-header at Puebla was certainly memorable.
Both the drivers’ and teams’ championships faced serious reconstruction following two action-packed races in Mexico.
Here’s how The Race’s Formula E correspondent Sam Smith rated all 24 drivers’ performances.
Antonio Felix da Costa – 7
Championship Position: 3rd, 60 points
Da Costa’s Saturday was a strong case of damage limitation especially after he was amidst the group one qualifying melee. He came out of it as well as could be expected to start 11th.
He made immediate progress into the top 10, survived a hairy moment of contact with a wide Guenther and then jousted gamely in the final mad dash to the line. This involved a major locking-up episode at Turn 1 where he lost out to Sims but he eventually garnered sixth position and enough points to vault de Vries in the points standings.
A repeat of the group one congestion on Sunday this time hurt da Costa more and he was rooted to 22nd on the grid – his worst ever starting position in Formula E.
His race was always going to be tough but after being one of several to pick up trackside signage banners his car overheated and stymied progress. Eventually, he lost it at Turn 7 largely due to the banner and smote the barriers to end an infuriating race.
Jean-Eric Vergne – 7
Championship Position: 10th, 50 points
Vergne’s first practice session was slightly disrupted after his DS E-TNSE 21 was forced to undergo a powertrain cluster change. It didn’t make a huge amount of difference to his run programme however and in qualifying/superpole he felt he had been too conservative.
He was building a very strong race from fourth on the grid and was placed nicely in third when he was clouted by Alexander Sims while re-joining the track from the attack zone loop and retired with damage.
His Sunday qualifying was similar to Saturday’s as he made it through to superpole again placing fourth. From there, Vergne appeared to be in a promising position than Saturday but he struggled more with his tyres. He then spun as a consequence of floor damage sustained by contact with Alex Lynn, dropping him to eighth place which is where he ultimately finished.
Sebastien Buemi – 5
Championship Position: 21st, 11 points
There was a sense of familiar 2021 foreboding for Buemi when he stopped on his very first lap of the Puebla track in practice. A re-set got him on his way again but the poor pace seen in recent races continued throughout the day’s sessions.
He and the team elected to undergo a complete powertrain change and incur a race destroying 10-second in-race pit penalty but the running was seen as an extended test session. He took the chequered flag in an unrepresentative 17th but was one of the four drivers disqualified for a non-declaration of tyres.
Finally, Buemi showed some pace on Sunday with a heartening seventh on the grid but again the race fell away. This time it was mostly due to damage sustained in the di Grassi triggered knock-on melee which saw Bird’s pushed into his car. He plummeted down the order because of the incident coming home 14th.
Oliver Rowland – 9
Championship Position: 9th, 53 points
Rowland looked rapid from the start of running in practice and topped the times in the first session. He glanced the wall in the second but again emerged top of the pile enjoying the challenge of the Puebla track.
Qualifying didn’t quite go to plan and Rowland was disappointed in himself for a superpole lap he felt was “nothing special”.
It was still good enough for a front-row start but his race was compromised from the very start with a wiring loom triggered radio failure preceding a fluffed start and then a spiral into the midfield abyss. Like Buemi, he was ultimately disqualified but had actually parked his car in the pits four laps from the end anyway.
Rowland was equally impressive on Sunday and waltzed to his fourth Formula E pole with a mighty sector two which defined an exceptional lap.
The race was not so straight forward and after a bright start, it soon became evident he didn’t quite have the pace of Mortara and Wehrlein. He fell into the clutches of Cassidy and even missed out on a podium but subsequently inherited third when Wehrlein took his 5-second penalty.
Stoffel Vandoorne – 8
Championship Position: 7th, 54 points
Vandoorne built up his pace promisingly in practice and looked strong but the group one qualifying debacle meant he was rooted to a 21st place start.
It didn’t faze him and he made rapid progress through the field to arrive in the points in the final 10 minutes. He drove prudently to pick off Guenther’s BMW and secured an excellent seventh place.
Sunday’s qualifying was just as cruel to Vandoorne as he was compromised by the inevitable pack hustle of group one and he started 17th. He again drove a fine race on Sunday, but had to deal with car damage after a first lap concertina incident and contact with Nato anchored him to a frustrating 12th place finish.
Nyck de Vries – 7
Championship Position: 6th, 59 points
To some extent, de Vries got away lightly with the bunching in qualifying and was able to start seven places ahead of his team-mate on the grid.
A cautious start saw him build a foothold on the periphery of the top 10, but then he was harpooned by a wayward Frijns at Turn 1 which damaged his left rear and confined him to scrapping with Evans and Lynn. He placed 10th at the flag but saw his points doubled when Wehrlein was disqualified.
De Vries looked more at ease on Sunday and had greater confidence but it all went to pot in the bunched up qualifying and he was confined to a 19th place start.
Compounding his and Mercedes EQ’s misery Sunday brought little compensation when the congestion and disadvantage of the first quali group again saw a lowly start, this time in 17th. He was quietly building a strong race when he was wiped out by an errant di Grassi.
Envision Virgin Racing
Robin Frijns – 6
Championship Position: 2nd, 62 points
The former points leader had a disastrous weekend that started on Saturday with a spin in practice, a ‘spooked’ lock-up amid the qualifying bun-fight in group one and then the race defining shunt with countryman de Vries in the race. It all amounted to a dispirited and forgettable 16th place finish.
Sunday qualifying was a repeat of Saturday in many respects except this time Frijns was five places further back in 21st.
His race was much better though with some excellent pace and he got into the points after picking off several others. What looked to be a probable 10th place finish quickly dissipated when fell foul of the crumbling track when he agonisingly went off on the final lap allowing Rene Rast through.
Nick Cassidy – 7
Championship Position: 13th, 37 points
Cassidy survived a major grassy moment at Turn 7 in the second practice session and then made an error in the first sector during qualifying to line-up 13th.
His race lasted only a few corners when he got offline and shoved his EVR Audi into the wall cracking the tub and requiring a new one for Sunday for which his team worked wonders.
He made great use of the new monocoque, qualifying well in eighth and then racing to a maiden podium after he picked off Oliver Rowland with a sensational around the outside move at T14. It was all a major morale boost for the Kiwi, who should now score many more top results as the season goes on.
BMW i Andretti Motorsport
Maximilian Guenther – 7
Championship Position: 18th, 28 points
Guenther was rapid but on the edge slightly on Saturday with an off in practice while simultaneously showing a strong push lap pace.
He again topped his qualifying group to make his fifth superpole appearance in eight attempts. His lap was messy though and he started fifth from where he made a barnstorming start to take second. Building a strong race he jousted with team-mate Dennis until the final phase of the race.
This was when he hit energy difficulties and also had a major braking episode while defending from da Costa and Vandoorne. It all kyboshed a likely strong points finish as he fell down to a disappointing 12th place.
Sunday saw Guenther blot his qualifying copybook as he went off at Turn 7 and lost a bag of time which grounded him to an 11th place start. The race saw him make his way through the pack expertly and he rose to seventh position with much better management of energy and an improved overall coolness to the race.
Jake Dennis – 9
Championship Position: 8th, 54 points
Dennis was comfortable with the Puebla track from the very start and was easily among the top half dozen in the first practice session.
A solid qualifying lap and then fine superpole effort netted a third-place start from where he tailed team-mate Guenther in the early exchanges before he got ahead and ran second as the second safety car was deployed to recover Bird’s bent Jaguar. While he had track position he had delayed his second attack mode hit and dropped back down to seventh.
But he raced expertly mugging champion da Costa and then capitalising on his team-mates erratic final lap and Wehrlein’s exclusion to take a creditable fifth.
Dennis upped his ante further on Sunday despite several mistakes in free practice three. But when it counted in qualifying he topped the times but then made another error in superpole when he lost the tyre temperature and started fifth.
He drove another well-judged race to finish where he started racing mostly with Alex Lynn throughout a relatively quiet but consistently impressive race.
Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler
Lucas di Grassi – 8
Championship Position: 13th, 39 points
The Brazilian was back to his dynamic best in Puebla but actually built his return to the winners circle slowly as he found his and Audi’s range in practice.
He was too cautious in qualifying as he struggled for grip but still started in eighth place. He made strong progress in the leading bunch and made a critical move on Mortara’s Venturi on the penultimate lap to put himself in a position to capitalise on Wehrlein’s misfortune. The win ended a 25-month long streak since Audi had won a race.
If Saturday was di Grassi at his best, the opposite can be said 24-hours on. He started mid-grid in 13th, but became embroiled in several contacts most damagingly with de Vries’ Mercedes which he rear-ended spectacularly.
He received a race destroying drive-through penalty and two penalty points for his trouble but took the flag in 18th and last.
Rene Rast – 9
Championship Position: 4th, 60 points
Rast’s Saturday began ignominiously when he crashed on his first quick lap and damaged the rear of his Audi e-tron FE07. The team quickly re-built the car and Rast rewarded it by being instantly attuned to the Puebla track.
A further mistake though came in qualifying when he locked-up at Turn 1 and lost 0.7s and a likely superpole appearance. Still, it didn’t rattle him and he shadowed team-mate di Grassi in the early phase to build a solid foundation.
He was able to recover from a messy first attack zone execution and came back through to clear Mortara on the penultimate lap and secure an eventual runners-up place and his best-ever Formula E result.
Sunday was a different kind of satisfaction for Rast after a qualifying spin anchored him to the rear of the grid. But he banked a colossal amount of energy, deploying it in the second phase brilliantly to carve his way through to 10th place and another fastest lap. This was all despite picking up the wretched advertising detritus that littered the track.
Mitch Evans – 7
Championship Position: 5th, 60 points
Evans looked strong in practice and then salvaged a reasonable 12th place start after the group one qualifying shambles.
His race was bubbling up nicely but he got caught out when the second safety car occurred, ironically to clear up team-mate Sam Bird’s broken car, as he was then forced to complete a late second attack mode grab while bunched up.
This dropped him from sixth to 11th but he came back through to claim four points for eighth although right on the tail of Vandoorne’s Merc.
It was a similar story for Evans on Sunday. Maddening frustration via the qualifying group one shenanigans and then a deft pick through the field for a handful of points for ninth which at least keeps him in touch in the points table.
Sam Bird – 5
Championship Position: 11th, 49 points
Bird explored the confines of the Puebla track in practice but never seemed completely comfortable enduring a grassy moment at Turn 12 in the first session.
Qualifying was compromised via the absurd overcrowding in group one but he then built a race similar to those that we have been seen in previous races with stealthy shimmied progress.
He was in a strong ninth when he got terminally rattled into the Turn 12 wall by Alex Lynn while re-joining from his second attack mode activation.
In race two Bird was faced with climbing through the field once again after starting a group one affected 15th. He worked together with team-mate Evans to make some progress but this ended after he was rear-ended into Buemi’s Nissan by a bellicose di Grassi.
This left him with a damaged car and a highly unfortunate and title-challenge damaging second nil points double-header of the season.
Andre Lotterer – 5
Championship Position: 19th, 18 points
Lotterer showed decent pace in practice although he didn’t manage to get a push lap together in the final session before qualifying.
He had an average qualifying lap to start 10th and his race was largely anonymous as he jousted in the upper midfield before fading into the clutches of Nato’s Venturi and Blomqvist’s NIO333 to finish a very flat 15th before the tyre orientated disqualification.
He struggled with the grip levels again on Sunday although in the race he was slightly happier and made good progress in the lower reaches of the top 10.
His race though was spoiled following contact with Sims and he collected trackside banners which ruined his pace, particularly at the flat-out Turn 15.
Pascal Wehrlein – 10
Championship Position: 12th, 48 points
Brilliant in both qualifying and superpole sessions Wehrlein took a highly merited second ever Formula E pole on Saturday.
He controlled the race beautifully and deserved to take his first E-Prix win and the first victory of his career since 2015 but was scuppered by the absurdly executed and draconian tyre infraction penalty.
On Sunday Wehrlein was just as rapid and with the added motivation to right what was perceived as a massive injustice from the day before he looked to be another pole contender. So it proved, but he just missed out on the flying Rowland.
His race wasn’t quite as flawless as Saturday however, and he struggled with his tyres on the grippier but abrasive surface.
He tailed Mortara initially but then faded. Second place was some compensation for the day before but even that was taken away post-race after he left the fanboost deployment too late and it was activated on too low a state-of-charge.
Alexander Sims – 8
Championship Position: 15th, 36 points
An issue with his powertrain triggered damage to a battery and necessitated a powertrains switch on Saturday morning severely compromising Sims’ data collation.
It didn’t faze him and he quietly completed a lap to take a brilliant seventh in one of the best laps seen in recent seasons. From there he drove an equally impressive race to take fourth position after measured aggression paid off in the final exchanges when he made moves on Guenther and da Costa.
Sims’ Sunday was much less positive. A tricky qualifying yielded a 14th place slot and despite a feisty race where he made it into the top 10 he pulled off after suspected contact damaged his powertrain.
Alex Lynn – 7
Championship Position: 16th, 32 points
Lynn looked sharp in the first practice session but then seemed slightly tentative on his qualifying lap and made an error in sector one to root himself to 16th on the grid.
An earlier race puncture but him on the backfoot but he gathered things up well and was able to fight for points battling with de Vries and Evans at the end to take a point for 10th.
Lynn’s qualifying form returned on Sunday and he looked much more comfortable on his push lap. His superpole lap was strong too but a power over-spike lost him three positions and he started sixth. He battled for much of the race with the BMW’s which he sandwiched to secure a double points finish with sixth.
ROKiT Venturi Racing
Edoardo Mortara – 10
Championship Position: 1st, 72 points
Mortara looked hooked up from the very first laps of practice and was the leading Mercedes powered driver for the majority of Saturday.
A second superpole appearance was positive but his lap less so as he made a mistake at T11 which anchored him to sixth.
A sublime race netted third place after some intelligent race craft and strong attack mode strategy finally paid off although he was defenceless against the Audi’s in the final three laps.
Mortara’s stunning win on Sunday thrust him into the title lead of the points with a 40-point aggregate collation, but it was hard-earned. A perfect attack mode strategy was played out to perfection and Mortara expertly juggled both tyre management and the repelling of a quick Wehrlein to complete his most impressive race to date.
Norman Nato – 4
Championship Position: 23rd, 11 points
Decent pace in practice preceded the mother and father of all moments at the flat-out Turn 15 on his qualifying run as he looked like over-driving slightly.
A 17th place start was disappointing but his race was reasonably strong although he shuffled down the order in the closing laps to take a bit of an insipid 14th.
Nato’s weekend to forget ended with a damaged car after he was the loser in a barging match with Buemi’s Nissan at Turn 1.
Joel Eriksson – 5
Championship Position: 25th, 0 points
Eriksson was the victim of another technical disaster at Dragon when his race was effectively ruled to be a test session before the weekend had started This was because the team had to check inverters by breaking the FIA seal on the components and a 20-place grid penalty was delivered.
To the Swedish rookie’s credit, he kept his head down and qualified 14th before the sanction and then had a decent race to 17th despite the race compromising penalty.
Eriksson struggled with the different track conditions on Sunday and made an error in qualifying to place 23rd. Another reasonable race saw him make some progress but the 40-second deficit to the winner with no race suspensions told its own story of the Penske cars lack of sustainable race pace.
Sergio Sette-Camara – 6
Championship Position: 21st, 12 points
Two off-track excursions in practice but then a mega lap in qualifying was nothing new for Sette Camara as he again out-performed the machinery at his disposal to set the ninth-best qualifying time.
As per Eriksson, this was scratched off due to the inverter seal breakage wrap and he started on the last row before taking the pit penalty. But from there the safety car periods aided the Brazilian to get stuck in and this he did, catching Lotterer’s Porsche in the final laps and finish a low-key but fighting 15th.
The second race saw Sette-Camara tag the wall on his quali lap before another erratic race saw him get a five-second time penalty and he came in just ahead of team-mate Eriksson but then moved back to 16th after the penalty was applied.
Oliver Turvey – 6
Championship Position: 20th, 13 points
Turvey struggled in first practice but then appeared to find his and the NIO333 cars range in the second session before setting a slightly scrappy qualifying lap disappointingly half a second away from the Penskes.
His race was strong and probably deserved a point but he just missed out with a finely judged drive to 11th.
Sunday was a write-off for Turvey as he clipped the wall in qualifying and then got rammed by Sette-Camara’s Penske before an unspecified technical glitch pitted him for good.
Tom Blomqvist – 7
Championship Position: 24th, 5 points
Blomqvist was frustrated with himself after showing promising practice pace but making an error in qualifying when was unsighted by traffic and had a lairy moment in sector two which consigned him to a 22nd place race start.
He made strong progress in the race and was in a group contesting a possible final point for 10th but ultimately didn’t quite have enough, despite a radical strategy, and he faded to 13th at the chequered flag.
An excellent ninth on the grid after being second in his qualifying group on Sunday was a massive boost to the team. However, his race unravelled after several early contacts and then a suspected suspension failure stopped him with 12-minutes remaining.