Alexander Sims driving his BMW Formula E car at the Mexico City race.

Formula E 18/19 post-race review: Race 4, Mexico City

Feb 20, 2019 - 5min read

The Formula E races are coming thick and fast now – this time around, the streets of Mexico City. The race was a credit to motorsport and simply breath-taking to watch. After some early thrills and spills, it was Audi Sport’s Lucas Di Grassi who stole the race from Pascal Wehrlein of Mahindra Racing at the bitter end. It was tough luck early on for Alexander Sims who got caught up in a dramatic crash, but an impressive effort to finish 14th after effectively being bumped to the back of the pack.

So, what happened in the race?
Wehrlein started the race out front after an impressive Super Pole outing – one which Sims had missed out on by the slimmest of margins, just 0.004 seconds behind his BMW i Andretti Motorsport team mate António Félix da Costa. After a frantic, but altogether incident free start to the race it wasn’t long until a red flag halted proceedings following a dramatic collision between Nelson Piquet Jnr and Jean-Eric Vergne. There was disagreement post-race as to whether it was too much pace going into the corner from Piquet or early breaking from Vergne, but what’s for certain is that both drivers, as well as Sims who got clipped by the Jaguar on landing, were lucky to come away unscathed.

The entire field had to return to the pits and play a waiting game until the debris had been cleared from the track. The BMW safety car in its new livery ushered the drivers back into racing position and, with time added back on the race clock, we were off again.

There were two types of race taking place – the first and obvious being the dash to the chequered flag. The other was to see which driver could recover the most places during the race, as a number of top-quality drivers started the race towards the back of the pack. Impressive drives from the Envision Virgin Racing team saw Sam Bird fly from 22nd to finish 9th, while teammate Robin Frijns did similar going from 20th to 10th. It was Mahindra Racing’s Jérôme D’Ambrosio whose leap from 18th to 4th was most impressive – and meant he reclaimed the overall lead in the drivers’ standings.

Out front, Wehrlein looked set to take his first win as an all-electric driver, defending his position initially against Oliver Rowland and then against Lucas Di Grassi. In a crazy last lap, disaster struck for Wehrlein when pressure from Di Grassi caused him to cut a corner. Although we’d later find out that would incur a five second penalty, Wehrlein and Di Grassi battled to the bitter end only for the German’s car to run out of battery just metres from the finish line. That moment’s loss of power made for the most jaw-dropping of finishes and saw the Audi Sport bundling over the line for the win. Four races into the new Formula E season and four different winners!

With Wehrlein’s penalty coming into effect shortly after the conclusion of the race and the retirement of both Sebastian Buemi and Oliver Rowland – both the Nissan E.Dams cars ran out of power on the final lap – the podium spots were made up of Da Costa and Edoardo Mortara.

Surely this is as exciting as it can get, right?!
It seems like each race this season we’ve said “well, it can’t get any more exciting than that…”, well, turns out it can and it did! This race had it all. The stat of the day was that the first two laps saw drivers overtake the equivalent of 57 places. Then just a few laps into the race, Nelson Piquet Jr gave us all a heart-in-mouth moment when he dramatically launched over Jean-Éric Vergne and into the crash barrier – thankfully no injuries to report. Then the last couple of laps are possibly the most exciting of any motorsport we’ve ever seen. There are no words, so the highlights are well worth a watch… and a re-watch.

Mexico contenders for fans of the year?
The atmosphere was buzzing at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez Stadium. The iconic stadium provides a perfect ingredient for creating a winning atmosphere, but fill it with thousands of Mexican fans (including a good number wearing traditional wrestling masks) and you get an even tastier result. While the race itself gave fans plenty to cheer about, there was an equal amount of excitement in the Allianz E-Village where fans were able to see the latest Electric Vehicles on display alongside innovative charging solutions – we’d be surprised to not see more Leafs, Teslas, and Zoeys on the streets of Mexico City by the time next year’s E-Prix rolls around!

Managing your battery DEFINITELY is tricky!
Last time in Santiago the drivers were made to sweat (quite literally) as they saw the searing heat impact the energy levels of their batteries – but this time in Mexico City it was a mixture of an early red flag and the intensity of the racing that saw energy management hit the headlines. Pascal Wehrlein’s battery ran dry metres from the finish line and allowed Lucas Di Grassi to dramatically steal past him, but the impacts on both Nissan E.Dams was even more profound – with both having to retire on the last lap after running out of juice.  

From Alexander Sims himself:
After a positive run and more points added to his season tally in Santiago, Sims suffered from a case of wrong place, wrong time in Mexico City. Finding himself collateral damage from Nelson Piquet Jr’s aerial display dropped Sims to 20th and left him with everything to do – but to finish the race in 14th on a track notorious for having minimal overtaking opportunities was no mean feat.

“It was a huge disappointment to be hit by Nelson Pique Jr, but things like that happen in racing. It was outside of my control and you just have to let it go and focus on the rest of the race. The team did an incredible job of repairing the damage as much as possible and getting me back out on track with seconds to spare – massive thanks go to them for the huge effort and support. The car wasn’t 100 per cent after that but it allowed me to race and climb positions. I also gained valuable experience in terms of energy consumption: I tried going aggressive in case there was a full course yellow later in the race, but that didn’t happen, so it was a fun challenge to be fairly energy limited towards the end and hold position, keeping ahead of those with more energy than me.

“Although it wasn’t the result we hoped for, there are still lots of positives to take from the race in terms of experience and data, and we were on the pace in qualifying and the early laps in the race. Unfortunately, it’s another race that’s gotten away from us, but we’ll keep working hard, keep learning and pushing for the results.”

What’s next?
Formula E heads to Asia next, with the Hong Kong E-Prix on Saturday 10th March – tune in online with the BBC on their website or Red Button, or on the Formula E YouTube channel.

For more details on our partnership with Alexander Sims, click here.

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