2018 Mexico City ePrix
The 2018 Mexico City ePrix (formally the 2018 ABB Formula E Mexico City ePrix) was a Formula E electric car race held at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez in the centre of Mexico City on 3 March 2018. It was the fifth round of the 2017–18 Formula E season and the third edition of the event as part of the championship. The 47-lap race was won by Audi driver Daniel Abt after starting from fifth position. Oliver Turvey finished second for NIO and e.Dams-Renault driver Sébastien Buemi came in third.
|2018 Mexico City ePrix|
|Race 5 of 12 of the 2017–18 Formula E season|
|Date||3 March 2018|
|Official name||2018 ABB Formula E Mexico City ePrix|
|Location||Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez, Mexico City|
|Course||Permanent racing facility|
|Course length||2.093 km (1.301 mi)|
|Distance||47 laps, 98.371 km (61.125 mi)|
|Weather||Warm and sunny|
|Driver||Lucas di Grassi||Audi|
|Time||1:02.202 on lap 27|
Mahindra's Felix Rosenqvist won the pole position by posting the fastest lap in qualifying and maintained his start line advantage for the first fourteen laps until a battery management system problem at the final corner elevated Turvey to the lead. Turvey held it until the mandatory pit stops for the change into a second car. Swift work from Abt's pit crew moved him past Turvey who was slow leaving his garage because of a gear selection fault. Abt opened out a substantial advantage over the rest of the field to take his maiden career victory and the first for a German in Formula E. Turvey took second after withstanding pressure from Buemi in the final five laps.
The consequence of the final positions increased Jean-Éric Vergne's lead in the Drivers' Championship to twelve points over Rosenqvist who ended his race prematurely because he did not have enough electrical energy to complete all 47 laps. Sam Bird kept third in spite of not scoring any points while Nelson Piquet Jr. maintained fourth and Buemi rounded out the top five. In the Teams' Championship, Techeetah further extended their advantage over the non-scoring Mahindra and Jaguar moved past Virgin in the battle for third with seven races left in the season.
The 2018 Mexico City ePrix was confirmed as part of Formula E's 2017–18 series schedule in September 2017 by the FIA World Motor Sport Council. It was the fifth of twelve scheduled single-seater electric car races of the 2017–18 season, and the third time that the ePrix has been held as part of the FIA Formula E Championship. It was held on 3 March 2018 at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez in the centre of Mexico City. The ePrix was the only race of the season that took place on a permanent motor racing facility: it consists of a mixture of the Grand Prix and oval layouts and has seventeen turns at a length of 2.093 kilometres (1.301 mi). The high elevation of the circuit created thin air and lower wind resistance, causing teams to optimise the cooling of their cars, and the asphalt surface was less abrasive than other tracks. The world governing body of motorsport, the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) introduced a track limits zone on the approach to turn one to prevent competitors from using the grass in that area. The driver adviser to the stewards for the ePrix was former Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters racer Alexandre Prémat.
Coming into the race from Santiago three weeks prior, Techeetah driver Jean-Éric Vergne led the Drivers' Championship with 71 points and was five points ahead of his nearest rival Felix Rosenqvist of Mahindra. Sam Bird (Virgin) followed in third place with 61 points; Sébastien Buemi (e.Dams-Renault) stood in fourth a further twenty-four points behind and Nelson Piquet Jr (Jaguar) followed in fifth with 33 points. Techeetah were in the lead of the Teams' Championship with 89 points; Mahindra (87 points) followed close behind in second position and Virgin placed third with 69 points. Jaguar were fourth with 54 points and e.Dams-Renault rounded out the top five with 44 points.
Allan McNish, team principal of Audi, affirmed that his team would fight back after poor car reliability in the first four races and noted the unpredictability that is commonly observed in Formula E, "At the moment, we're going through a tough time in our young Formula E history. But we are as determined as ever and will continue to push to the maximum with Daniel [Abt] and Lucas, in spite of the current challenges." Buemi sought to continue his recent form of strong performances in Mexico and declared that his team would attack by using the experience they had accumulated in the previous two editions of the Mexico City race, "I’m delighted to be back in Mexico after my performances in the last two races, and I hope that we’ll keep up the momentum. We’ve always been quick in free practice in Mexico, but it’s not been the same story in qualifying. We’re determined to put that right this year and challenge for the race win."
After Techeetah and Dragon incurred record fines of €15,000 ($18,500) for seat belt manipulation in the preceding Santiago ePrix, the FIA issued a bulletin to all teams the day before the Mexico City ePrix clarifying what was prohibited with the safety device. From this race onward, the FIA forbade the installation of tie-wraps or teams using tape on the belts in line with a regulation prohibiting any material modification or safety harness reshaping. Also, more detailed post-race examinations were undertaken by the FIA to prevent any future occurrence of such systems being employed by all teams. Andretti team principal Roger Griffiths explained, "The FIA has also clarified how, that if you are going to attach and relocate the driver’s radio connector to the seatbelt, you can attach it only to the label on the seatbelt and not through the webbing of the material itself."
Practice and qualifyingEdit
Two practice sessions—both on Saturday morning—were held before the late afternoon race. The first session ran for 45 minutes and the second lasted half an hour. A half an hour untimed shakedown session was held on Friday afternoon to allow teams to check the reliability of their cars and their electronic systems. After shakedown, Venturi, Dragon, e.Dams-Renault and Jaguar were fined €5,000, of which a further €3,500 was suspended for the rest of the season, for 5G electromagnetic radiation interference in the illegal 5–6 GHz band that could have potentially interfered with the FIA's data gathering system. All four teams were cautioned that a repeat occurrence put them at risk of disqualification.[a]
The first practice session began under a rising sun in low air and track temperatures but there were no reports of heat management concerns. Additionally, the track surface was dusty and damp in some areas although lap times exceeded Oliver Turvey's (NIO) 2017 pole position effort. Audi's Lucas di Grassi used 200 kW (270 hp) of power to record the fastest lap late on at 1 minute and 1.58 seconds, 0.362 seconds faster than any one else on the circuit. The rest of the top ten composed of Edoardo Mortara, Vergne, Mitch Evans, Alex Lynn, José María López, Rosenqvist, Daniel Abt, Bird and Buemi. No major incidents occurred during practice although several drivers ran onto the circuit's run-off areas. López was aggrieved at Luca Filippi who slowed him in turn three. He lost control of the rear of his vehicle at turn seven and spun without damage to it.
Di Grassi was again fastest in second practice with a 1-minute and 1.203 seconds lap. The session's early pace setter Rosenqvist was second and Evans placed third. Positions four to ten were occupied by Nick Heidfeld, Lynn, António Félix da Costa, Abt, Buemi, López and Bird. Mortara necessitated course officials to wave the full course yellow flags leaving the first corner as his car stopped in the turn two braking zone. Later, López pushed too hard and his rear gave up on him, causing him to glance the turn eleven barrier with his left-rear wheel. López switched into his second car for the rest of the session. In the session's closing minutes, Heidfeld lost control of his car's rear at the turn seven and eight double left hander and struck the bollards dictating track limits. With five minutes left, Lynn was at maximum power driving towards turn two and was about to pass the slower Rosenqvist. But after steering left onto the circuit's dirty part, Lynn lost control of his vehicle's rear, clouted a wall with his left-hand side after locking his brakes. Lynn was unhurt and the session continued with two minutes to go but nobody improved their lap times.
Saturday's afternoon qualifying session ran for an hour and was divided into four groups of five cars. Each group was placed in championship order and were determined by a lottery system and was permitted six minutes of on-track activity. All drivers were limited to two timed laps with one at maximum power. The fastest five overall competitors in the four groups participated in a "Super Pole" session with one driver on the track at any time going out in reverse order from fifth to first. Each of the five drivers was limited to one timed lap and the starting order was determined by the competitor's fastest times (Super Pole from first to fifth, and group qualifying from sixth to twentieth). The driver and team who recorded the fastest time were awarded three points towards their respective championships. In the first group of five runners, which was held on a dusty track that provided a negligible amount of grip, di Grassi was the early pace setter, followed by Maro Engel, Jérôme d'Ambrosio, Tom Blomqvist (who made a driving error) and Filippi. Buemi set the fastest overall group lap time of anyone in the second group at 1 minute and 1.668 seconds. Rosenqvist was first to venture onto the track in the group and was fastest until Buemi's lap. Vergne lost time leaving the track's corners and was third. Piquet placed fourth. Bird had a suspension issue that restricted him to being group two's slowest driver. In the third group, Félix da Costa set the fastest time of all of its five drivers, ahead of Turvey. Lynn drove aggressively through the chicane to be the group's third-fastest driver while López and Nico Prost rounded out the top five.
The track was at its most clean in the fourth group and had Abt become the first of five drivers to venture onto the track and was the fastest of all as a consequence of pushing hard. Heidfeld locked his tyres and could not set a clean lap time, placing second. Similarly, André Lotterer locked his tyres approaching the first corner and recorded the third-fastest lap. Evans made an error in the track's opening sector and lost half a second in the following sector due to his car cutting out and took fourth. Mortara was slow throughout and placed 20th overall. At the end of group qualifying, Buemi, Rosenqvist, Félix da Costa, Turvey, Lynn's laps progressed them to super pole. Rosenqvist locked his tyres on his lap but he clinched his second pole position of the season and the fifth of his career with a time of 1 minute and 1.645 seconds. He was provisionally joined on the grid's front row by Félix da Costa, in his first super pole appearance since the 2016 Long Beach ePrix, who was 0.207 seconds slower after locking his tyres at certain parts of the track and was on pole until the latter's lap. Lynn was third-fastestand his compatriot Turvey locked his tyres approaching the second turn en route to fourth. Buemi locked his brakes driving into turn one but was able to hit the apex of the corner at the start of his lap. A steady pace for the rest of Buemi's lap qualified him fifth. After qualifying, di Grassi and the Virgin duo of Bird and Lynn were demoted ten places for changing the inverter and gearbox in their respective cars. Similarly, Félix da Costa's car was discovered to be under the minimum weight limit of 880 kg (1,940 lb) during scrutineering but started fourth since its weight after group qualifying complied with the regulations. The rest of the grid lined up after penalties as Abt, Vergne, Piquet, Heidfeld, Lotterer, Lynn, Engel, Evans, López, d'Ambrosio, Prost, Blomqvist, Filippi, Mortara, Bird and di Grassi.
Weather conditions at the star were dry, warm and sunny with the air temperature was between 27.0 to 27.7 °C (80.6 to 81.9 °F) and the track temperature ranged from 40.5 and 41.65 °C (104.90 and 106.97 °F). A special feature of Formula E is the "Fan Boost" feature, an additional 100 kilowatts (130 hp) of power to use in the driver's second car. The three drivers who were allowed to use the boost were determined by a fan vote. The distance of the ePrix was increased from 45 laps to 47 to better showcase the technological efficiency advancements made by all teams. When the race began from its standing start at 16:00 Central Daylight Time (UTC–06:00), Rosenqvist maintained his pole position advantage heading into the first corner closely followed by Turvey and Buemi as the field avoided contact entering the turn. Abt made a fast getaway and moved past Félix da Costa for fourth while his fellow countryman Engel made a poor start and fell to the back of the field. A few cars in the middle of the pack collided with each other in turn three, launching chunks of bodywork airborne though no driver entered the pit lane for repairs. Then, López collided with his teammate d'Ambrosio but both continued with only minor damage to their vehicles.
Di Grassi moved from twentieth to eighteenth by the end of lap one while Evans gained three positions over the same distance. At the lap's conclusion, Rosenqvist led Turvey by eight-tenths of a second with Buemi third. Henceforth, Rosenqvist began to establish a small advantage over the rest of the field as drivers began to settle into a rhythm. Evans overtook Lotterer for eighth position on lap three, and Félix da Costa lost seventh two laps later to Vergne who passed Félix da Costa by putting him off the circuit at the entrance to turn six. Piquet used this to gain sixth. Di Grassi progressed through the field on the lap as he moved past Filippi on the approach to the first turn, a move that put the latter ran wide. This allowed Mortara to draw alongside Filippi on the inside line, but as the duo braked for the turn three chicane, both ran wide. Filippi drove across the chicane and stopped before rejoining the circuit. Mortara meanwhile drove across the kerbing but remained on the track. These events demoted Filippi behind Engel and Bird. Further ahead, Buemi was pressured by Abt but the latter could not affect a pass as Vergne was close behind.
By the ninth lap, most drivers had about 65% of electrical energy remaining which gave no perceptible advantage for anyone bar Rosenqvist who now led Turvey by two seconds. Buemi, di Grassi and Rosenqvist were announced as the winners of the FanBoost vote the lap after. Meanwhile, Turvey had established a two-second advantage over Buemi which was in contrast to previous races where his car typically struggled to pull away because of poor electrical energy consumption. Upfront, Rosenqvist set what was at this point the fastest lap of the race at 1 minute and 3.601 seconds and it appeared he would win the race and reclaim the lead of the Drivers' Championship from Vergne. But as Rosenqvist exited the final corner to finish the fourteenth lap, he had a sudden loss in power due to a battery management system failure and stopped to reset his car and enable him to continue driving. Doing this promoted Turvey into the lead with Buemi and Abt second and third. Rosenqvist fell to ninth and was out of contention for the victory.
Abt's attempts at getting ahead of Buemi were disrupted when Rosenqvist stopped twice more on the turn three run-off area and prompted course officials to wave localised yellow flags. Nevertheless, Abt later gained second from Buemi on the inside line at the exit of turn one after the latter braked early for the corner and ran wide. Abt then started drawing closer to Turvey. Rosenqvist chose to end his stop-start approach and made an early switch into his second car with the objective of re-entering the top ten. The leaders made their mandatory pit stops to change into a second car on lap 24. Piquet and di Grassi remained on the circuit for one additional lap before making their own stops. After the pit stops, Abt gained the lead from Turvey because his stop was six seconds faster than the latter who had gear selection trouble and Buemi fell to fourth while Vergne took third. Abt drew clear as Turvey came under attack from Vergne. On lap 27, Heidfeld stopped on the start/finish straight before venturing into the pit lane per instructions from his team for troubleshooting that revealed a water pump failure, curtailing his race.
As di Grassi was gaining positions, he earned one point for setting the fastest lap on the lap, completing a circuit in 1 minute and 2.02 seconds. Further ahead, Turvey made a small error leaving the Peraltada chicane, allowing Vergne to unsuccessfully challenge him. This enabled Buemi to use FanBoost to pass Vergne by steering right onto the inside line at the first corner on lap 28. Later, the stewards investigated Lotterer's pit stop release and penalised him with a drive-through penalty after determining that he ran over the foot of a pit crew member leaving his garage, dropping him from seventh to thirteenth. The crew member was transported to the circuit's medical centre and released after examinations revealed no serious injures. Further down the pack on lap 31, di Grassi aimed for the top ten but a minor collision with López on the start/finish straight caused him to pirouette at the first turn.
Piquet had the knowledge of having more usable electrical energy and passed his teammate Evans two laps later. The following lap, Mahindra called the slow Rosenqvist into the pit lane to retire since he could not finish the race. Piquet moved in front of Vergne, whose two-way radio communication was cut off due to a systems glitch that lost him all information on his steering wheel, for fourth place shortly after and started to hassle Buemi for third place. On lap 37, di Grassi used his FanBoost to move past d'Ambrosio for twelfth while Prost parked his car in the garage with a broken front-right suspension due to contact with Bird at turn three, making him the race's final retiree. Turvey was slow leaving the Peraltada chicane, enabling Buemi to challenge him but was mindful of Piquet who was quickly closing up. Engel lost eleventh to di Grassi in the race's closing laps and broke his rear wing after contacting him.
At the start of the penultimate lap, Buemi attempted to overtake Turvey for second but locked all four of his tyres. Buemi avoided striking the rear of Turvey's car. Turvey similarly locked his tyres but both drivers kept their respective positions as an earlier driving error from Piquet lost him a small amount of time. In his 37th start, Abt increased his lead to more than six seconds and maintained this advantage for the rest of the ePrix to clinch his maiden career victory. It was the first for a German driver in Formula E, and for Audi as a factory team.[b] The victory moved Abt to sixth in the Drivers' Championship. Turvey followed in second to clinch his first career podium and Buemi was third. Off the podium, Piquet, Vergne, Evans, Félix da Costa, Mortara, di Grassi and Lynn. D'Ambrosio, López. Lotterer, Filippi, Blomqvist, Engel and Bird were the final classified finishers.
The top three drivers appeared on the podium to collect their trophies and spoke to the media in a later press conference. Abt said that going into the race, he and his team were aware that their car was fast and their situation in the championship, but praised the quick work of his mechanics. However he was aware that Formula E was unpredictable but reserved appraisal for Audi, "We didn’t give up, we kept believing in it and today was just a fantastic day." Turvey spoke of his delight over taking his and NIO's first podium, "Everyone in the team has worked so hard since last season to gain a huge step forward in performance and we’ve not been able to show this due to a few tough races." Third-place finisher Buemi said that winning the race would not have been possible because of the fast pace of Abt's car but was still happy to accumulate more championship points, "Today he [Abt] put his knowledge into practice and I had a problematic pit stop because I almost collided with Nico [Prost] because he had his pit stop at the same time as I."
Rosenqvist described his race as "one of those rare days when I can say it was quite a perfect Saturday" despite his early retirement, "Right from the practice sessions through to qualifying. I was out in front with a comfortable three second lead and it was getting better. It was all a bit too good to be true, but the issue was not in our hands." With regards to his inter-team systems glitch, Vergne revealed that it prompted him to allow Buemi and Piquet through so that he could follow Buemi's strategy to allow him to reach the end of the race and gather championship points. Piquet spoke of his belief that a better starting position would have helped him get on the podium, and thus attempted a different strategy, "Depending on who the players are around you, you want to risk overtaking or you want to try and save energy." Nevertheless, Piquet stated his belief that Jaguar had the most reliable car in the field and that the team would aim to continue improving for the rest of the season.
The incident where Lotterer caused ligament injuries to one of his mechanics was the first such occurrence of anyone sustaining any form of injury since the minimum pit stop time was abolished at the preceding Santiago ePrix. Lotterer spoke of his belief that there would be another similar incident in the future, "Everyone is pushing the limits and the cars, they are so close together, there’s not much space for the mechanic to jump off the car once the belts are done. But that’s the same as other pitstops in other categories – mechanics change tyres [and] it always happens once in a while. This is part of racing." Scott Mitchell of Autosport noted the abolition of the minimum pit stop was one of Formula E's most unpopular changes and argued that this promoted an element of competition during the switch into a second car that he deemed unnecessary with regards to personal safety. Additionally, Rosenqvist's and Piquet's pit stops came under scrutiny from the motorsport press as it was theorised that their car's seat belts were altered illegally in order to decrease the time spent in their garages and risked infringing the revised FIA regulations concerning the new seat belts.
The consequence of the final positions increased Vergne's lead at the top of the Drivers' Championship to twelve points ahead of second-placed Rosenqvist. Bird kept third place in spite of not scoring any points while Buemi's third-place finish meant he was still fourth place but was closer to Bird in the battle for the position. Piquet's fourth-place result kept him in fifth in the standings. In the Teams' Championship, Techeetah further extended their advantage over Mahindra by a further seven points. Jaguar's strong result moved them past Virgin in the battle for third and e.Dams-Renault rounded out the top five with seven rounds left in the season.
|5||28||António Félix da Costa||Andretti-BMW||—||—||41|
|8||3||Nelson Piquet Jr.||Jaguar||1:01.964||+0.079||7|
|12||1||Lucas di Grassi||Audi||1:02.079||+0.194||203|
|15||6||José María López||Dragon-Penske||1:02.264||+0.379||13|
- ^1 — António Félix da Costa was demoted to fourth after his car was discovered to be under the minimum weight limit of 880 kg (1,940 lb).
- ^2 — Alex Lynn and Sam Bird were penalised ten places for changing their gearboxes.
- ^3 — Lucas di Grassi was demoted ten places for changing his inverter.
|4||3||Nelson Piquet Jr.||Jaguar||47||+7.015||7||12|
|7||28||António Félix da Costa||Andretti-BMW||47||+17.157||5||6|
|9||1||Lucas di Grassi||Audi||47||+29.208||20||34|
|12||6||José María López||Dragon-Penske||47||+31.859||13|
|Ret||23||Nick Heidfeld||Mahindra||27||Water pump||8|
Standings after the raceEdit
- Notes: Only the top five positions are included for both sets of standings.
Notes and referencesEdit
- The stewards also investigated Andretti for the same transgression but the team were not penalised after presenting the FIA with a letter from 2016 that authorised them to operate in the frequency due to it being the sole feasible option at the time.
- Abt previously won the second Hong Kong race but it was revoked for his team infringing technical regulations.
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