|2016 Mexico City ePrix|
|Date||12th March 2016|
|Official Name||Formula E Mexico City ePrix|
|Location||Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez, Mexico City|
|Lap length||2.092km (1.299mi)|
|Distance||43 laps / 89.956km (55.896mi)|
|Pole Sitter||Jérôme d'Ambrosio|
|Fastest Lap||1:04.569 on lap 29|
|Jérôme d'Ambrosio||Sébastien Buemi||Nicolas Prost|
|Winner Team||Dragon Racing|
|Buenos Aires||Long Beach|
A dramatic Saturday afternoon saw Jérôme d'Ambrosio claim pole position and victory in Mexico, after initial race winner Lucas di Grassi was disqualified for an underweight car. The Belgian had survived a battle with Championship leader Sébastien Buemi throughout the second half of the race to earn his post race victory, while the Swiss driver extended his Championship lead. Nicolas Prost completed the podium as Renault e.Dams and Dragon Racing hit the summit of the Teams' Championship.
Mexico City was the last round to be confirmed for the 2016 Championship, announced at the November meeting of the World Motor Sport Council in 2015. The circuit was based off of the newly rebuilt Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez, which hosted a Formula One race for the first time in over 20 years in November 2015. The circuit length is almost half the length of the grand prix format, and uses the full Peraltada corner from the original layout of the circuit, albeit with a chicane in the middle to slow the cars.
The title race was hotting up as the Championship reached the halfway stage of the season, with Sam Bird's victory in Buenos Aires making it a three way fight for the title. Sébastien Buemi still led the way after his sensational climb through the field last time out, with Lucas di Grassi now four behind. Bird was 28 points away, with 30 available at each round, with no one else within a 30 point margin of Buemi.
There had been very little movement in the Teams' Championship, as Renault e.Dams broke the 100 point barrier to increase their lead over ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport. Dragon Racing were a small way behind, being drawn in by DS Virgin Racing in their battle for third. With Trulli out of the Championship, NEXTEV TCR at the foot of the table, six behind Team Aguri whom had been hit by terrible luck in the previous four races.
The full entry list for the 2016 Mexico City ePrix is displayed below:
The now familiar qualifying format introduced for 2015/16 would return for the Mexico City ePrix, with the eighteen cars split into four groups via a lottery system. Each group would then have six minutes to set a time, before the top five overall were split off from the rest to compete in the Super Pole Shootout to decide the top five on the grid.
As ever, group one was one of the smaller groups, with four drivers hitting the circuit to signal the start of qualifying in Mexico. Stéphane Sarrazin and Loïc Duval would be engaged in the inter-Venturi battle between Venturi and their customer team Dragon Racing, while Nick Heidfeld and Jean-Eric Vergne hoped to better their team mates who would run later.
Group one proved to be a tight session with four seasoned campaigners in action, with Vergne pushing hardest to end as the fastest in the group. Duval and Heidfeld were seperated by a few hundredths of a second, two tenths back from Vergne, with Sarrazin half a tenth further back, with all four ending the session in the top ten.
All of the attention was on group two ahead of qualifying, despite only containing four cars as per-usual. Three of the top five in the Championship were to do battle, with Sébastien Buemi hunting his third pole in five races, while Lucas di Grassi had the chance to close the gap to a single point if he could beat him to the top spot. Jérôme d'Ambrosio would also hope for a strong lap to close the gap to di Grassi and Buemi ahead, with Bruno Senna rounding out the group.
Promise did turn into performance from the headlining trio, as Buemi went fastest overall, with di Grassi three tenths back. d'Ambrosio fell just two thousandths of a second short of the Brazilian to take third overall, giving himself a more than good chance of making the Shootout. Senna made a mistake on his lap, brushing the wall at the first chicane and so would start at the back of the field.
The first of the larger groups was to be group three, featuring Nicolas Prost and Daniel Abt who both had the equipment to challenge for the Super Pole to support their team mates. Another Super Pole contender was the ever impressive António Félix da Costa in the year old Spark-Renault, although he would have to drop ten places due to a gearbox change earlier in the day. Simona de Silvestro and Oliver Turvey completed the group with ambitions of getting into the lower reaches of the top ten.
After group two's fine margins, both Prost and Abt were underpressure to aid their team mates with strong laps, and it was Prost who proved the stronger. A strong lap left him two tenths off of Buemi but up in second, while Abt ended the group phase in fifth, doing enough to beat Vergne and only likely to be deposed by Bird when he ran later. da Costa was the best of the rest, claiming seventh (before his ten place drop), while de Silvestro beat Turvey despite NEXTEV TCR's promise in practice.
Sam Bird headlined the final group, and was in an advantageous position to close the gap to his title rivals di Grassi and Buemi by going last. Home hero Salvador Duran would also get the chance to perform infront of the Mexican crowd, with Mike Conway and Robin Frijns also in action. Defending Champion Nelson Piquet Jr. was also to be on circuit, hoping to reverse the dreadful form he had endured all season.
The tale of group four would be an interupted one, as Piquet's poor season continued. Opening his flying lap, the Champion locked his brakes, sliding into the barriers on the inside of the chicane and destroying the front of his car. The debris blocked the circuit meaning a red flag was thrown to clear the circuit, with the delay seemingly enough to dampen the rest of the group. Bird, Duran, Conway and Frijns all fell short of the top ten, and their team mates, as attention switched to the enticing Super Pole.
Abt hit the circuit first in the Super Pole Shootout, his first taste of the final phase of qualifying, although he could not match his time from the group phase. d'Ambrosio was next, the only man not driving a Renault or ABT built machine, and a stunning lap, almost three tenths faster than his group time, saw him pile the pressure on his competitors. Third on circuit was di Grassi, yet the Brazilian could only split d'Ambrosio and Abt to give himself half a chance of starting on the front row.
That left the two e.Dams machines to run, with Prost first out. Like di Grassi, Prost did very little wrong on his lap, but fell three tenths short of the Belgian's time, although he did manage to topple the Brazilian, albeit by a hundredth of a second. That left Buemi, and a rapid first sector suggested he would match d'Ambrosio at the very least. Or at least it should have, as the Swiss driver locked up into turn four moments later, ruining his lap and leaving him to start fifth on the grid. d'Ambrosio would start on pole with di Grassi third, although he would have a Blue and Yellow barrier in the form of Prost directly ahead.
The final qualifying result for the 2016 Mexico City ePrix are outlined below:
|2016 Mexico City ePrix Qualifying Result|
|1||7||Jérôme d'Ambrosio||Dragon Racing||1:03.705||—||1|
|2||8||Nicolas Prost||Renault e.Dams||1:04.013||+0.308s||2|
|3||11||Lucas di Grassi||ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport||1:04.023||+0.318s||3|
|4||66||Daniel Abt||ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport||1:04.335||+0.630s||4|
|5||9||Sébastien Buemi||Renault e.Dams||1:05.183||+1.578s||5|
|6||25||Jean-Eric Vergne||DS Virgin Racing||1:04.268||—||6|
|7*||55||António Félix da Costa||Team Aguri||1:04.371||+0.103s||17|
|8||6||Loïc Duval||Dragon Racing||1:04.492||+0.224s||7|
|9||23||Nick Heidfeld||Mahindra Racing||1:04.523||+0.235s||8|
|11||2||Sam Bird||DS Virgin Racing||1:04.594||+0.326s||10|
|12||28||Simona de Silvestro||Andretti Autosport||1:04.606||+0.338s||11|
|13||27||Robin Frijns||Andretti Autosport||1:04.959||+0.691s||12|
|15||77||Salvador Duran||Team Aguri||1:05.452||+1.184s||14|
|16||88||Oliver Turvey||NEXTEV TCR||1:06.166||+1.898s||15|
|17||21||Bruno Senna||Mahindra Racing||1:07.724||+3.456s||16|
|18||1||Nelson Piquet Jr.||NEXTEV TCR||No Time||18|
- * da Costa was handed a ten place grid penalty before qualifying for changing a gearbox.
Dry, although relatively cool conditions in Mexico City welcomed the start of the ePrix on Saturday afternoon, with Jérôme d'Ambrosio starting from pole for the first time. Sébastien Buemi's pace throughout the weekend suggested he would be a threat despite starting from fifth, while Lucas di Grassi vowed to give the Swiss driver a fight if they met on circuit. The FanBoost voting result would be announced after the first six minutes of the race, and would be applied to the second cars of the three winners.
An even start throughout the field meant it was advantage d'Ambrosio into the first chicane, placing his car perfectly to block any attempt by Nicolas Prost to get by. There was no movement in terms of position at the front of the field, while the compression to get through the narrow chicane meant that António Félix da Costa and Mike Conway were forced to take avoiding action and cut through the chicane instead. It would be a similar story into the second chicane after turn three, as Bruno Senna lost out having to slam on the brakes in the midfield, dropping to the back of the field as a result.
By the end of the first lap, the top five had settled, a little more than two seconds covering the quintet, while Loïc Duval and Jean-Eric Vergne battled for sixth. Home hero Salvador Duran, meanwhile, was climbing up the order, battling with Simona de Silvestro for twelfth as team mate da Costa tussled with Conway for fourteenth. Sam Bird was also making progress, claiming ninth from Stéphane Sarrazin on his way to setting fastest lap at the end of lap two.
There was a sudden shuffle down the order for Vergne at the start of lap three, after contact with Duval was enough to unsettle his car and cause him to spin. The Frenchman was left with a damaged, but drivable car at the back of the field, while his compatriot went unpunished for the incident as the contact was minor. There was drama among the leaders too, as Daniel Abt had to take avoiding action into the final chicane after missing his braking point under pressure from Buemi. The German escaped a penalty, however, as the mistake allowed the Swiss driver to draw alongside the ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport machine down the main straight and sweep into fourth position in the braking zone for the first chicane.
After that the race settled as the drivers switched to energy conservation for the rest of the first stint, a yellow flag thrown on lap four to cover debris in the Stadium section limiting overtaking. The only dramas were for di Grassi, who seemed to be struggling with his brakes in the middle part of the stint causing him to miss the first chicane a couple of times. The Brazilian escaped punishment on both occasions as it had cost him time, as the stalemate at the front of the field remained in force as the pitstops loomed.
Away from the leaders, da Costa's bad weekend continued its downward spiral. Having already suffered a ten place grid penalty for a gearbox change, the Portuguese racer was handed a five second time penalty for work carried out on his car after the two minute warning on the grid. That was followed by a ten second time penalty for frequent abuse of track limits before a partial front wing failure saw the #55 Team Aguri machine, sporting their new Gulf livery, shown a mechanical warning flag that forced him to stop. Da Costa would battle in the midfield when he emerged, but was a lap down on those around him, despite his pace suggesting otherwise.
The final lap before the stops saw di Grassi opt to burn more energy than the rest, setting up a move on Prost through turn three before slinging his car down the inside of the Frenchman into the second chicane. That left him in second just behind d'Ambrosio as the field streamed into the pits, while also knowing he would have the advantage of FanBoost, an edge shared by Duran and Vergne. A flawless stop saw him emerge right under d'Ambrosio's rear wing, while Buemi moved into third after a delay for Prost, with the Frenchman further punished for an unsafe release into the path of Abt.
The two NEXTEV TCR machines remained on circuit for an extra lap, although their poor pace meant they would return to the back of the field as the battle for the lead intensified. di Grassi looked determined, and used a good run out of the final chicane in the middle of the Peraltada, as well as FanBoost to dice with d'Ambrosio down the main straight. Darting to the inside of the first chicane, di Grassi slammed on the brakes a fraction of a second later than the Belgian to snatch the lead. The Brazilian spent the next three laps building a lead rather than conserving energy, as d'Ambrosio fended off repeated challenges from Buemi.
Buemi became increasingly more aggressive in their battle, locking up and touching the back of d'Ambrosio into the first chicane on lap 29, causing minor bodywork damage to both. Accusations over fault flew over the radio between the drivers and their teams while Buemi made several hand gestures towards the Belgian as they raced on in second and third. No action was taken in their battle, as the race entered its final quarter of an hour.
With ten laps to go the race was in di Grassi's hands, while d'Ambrosio, Buemi, Prost and Abt remained in a tense stalemate ten seconds down. There was action at the tail end of the points meanwhile, as Bird attempted to dive down the inside of Nick Heidfeld for seventh. A late dive on the brakes by the Brit forced the German to make room, but momentum carried Bird too wide and allowed Heidfeld back past and brought Robin Frijns into their fight. Just ahead of their tussle was the lapped da Costa, who finally called time on his race for the day after spinning into the barrier at turn seven.
Back with the leaders and Buemi launched a fresh attack on d'Ambrosio for second, placing his car on the outside of the main straight to have the inside for the second part of the chicane. His move worked, but the narrow circuit meant he was forced to cut the chicane in order to complete the move, meaning he had to surrender the place. Buemi sought to hand the position back through the stadium section, but poor decision making meant that Prost and Abt were able to pass d'Ambrosio while Buemi continued in second. A furious Belgian then cut the final chicane to get back underneath Buemi, and was duly allowed back past a few moments later, and would be unpunished for his chicane cutting.
The finals laps returned to a stalemate among the top five, although there were changes in the final laps. Prost slunk into the pits to serve his drive through while Abt suffered a suspension failure on the penultimate lap, throwing his car into the wall and out of the top four. Loïc Duval was now fourth with Prost emerging in fifth, while Frijns pulled a confident double move on Heidfeld and Bird to climb into sixth.
Moments later and the race was over, di Grassi sweeping across the line to claim the first ever Mexico City ePrix victory and the lead in the Championship. d'Ambrosio and Buemi remained in a tense battle for second that ended in the Belgian's favour, while Duval completed another strong display for Dragon Racing in fourth. Prost claimed fifth, and claimed fastest lap, ahead of the still battling Frijns and Bird while Abt recovered to finish ahead of Heidfeld. The top ten was completed by an under the radar performance from Stéphane Sarrazin, with Bruno Senna just missing out on points in eleventh.
Yet, the real tale of the race was still to be revealed, with di Grassi placed under investigation as the top three celebrated on the podium. It was later revealed that the first car di Grassi had used was 1.2kg under the minimum race weight limit, meaning he was disqualified from the race and so lost his victory. Jérôme d'Ambrosio was therefore declared the winner, the second time he had won at the expense of a di Grassi disqualification, with Buemi in second and now with a clear advantage in the Championship. Prost completed the podium after a post race penalty for frequent track limit abuse was applied to Duval, denying Dragon a stunning double podium, while Senna was handed a point as a result of di Grassi's penalty.
The final classification of the 2016 Mexico City ePrix is displayed below, with the fastest lap setter indicated in italics, and the pole sitter shown in bold.
|2016 Mexico City ePrix Race Result|
|Pos.||No.||Nat.||Name||Team||Laps||Race Time||Fastest lap||Pts.|
|DSQ*||11||Lucas di Grassi||ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport||43||Disqualified||1:04.887|
|1||7||Jérôme d'Ambrosio||Dragon Racing||43||48:28.409||1:05.400||28|
|2||9||Sébastien Buemi||Renault e.Dams||43||+0.106s||1:05.076||18|
|3||8||Nicolas Prost||Renault e.Dams||43||+25.537s||1:04.569||17|
|4†||6||Loïc Duval||Dragon Racing||43||+26.358s||1:04.840||12|
|5||27||Robin Frijns||Andretti Autosport||43||+28.477s||1:05.247||10|
|6||2||Sam Bird||DS Virgin Racing||43||+28.928s||1:05.167||8|
|7||66||Daniel Abt||ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport||43||+30.051s||1:05.315||6|
|8||23||Nick Heidfeld||Mahindra Racing||43||+36.373s||1:06.177||4|
|10||21||Bruno Senna||Mahindra Racing||43||+37.603s||1:06.019||1|
|11||88||Oliver Turvey||NEXTEV TCR||43||+38.598s||1:05.183|
|13||1||Nelson Piquet Jr.||NEXTEV TCR||43||+42.351s||1:05.097|
|14||28||Simona de Silvestro||Andretti Autosport||43||+43.971s||1:05.979|
|15||77||Salvador Duran||Team Aguri||43||+1:03.082||1:05.996|
|16||25||Jean-Eric Vergne||DS Virgin Racing||42||+1 lap||1:04.881|
|NC‡||55||António Félix da Costa||Team Aguri||32||+11 laps||1:05.059|
- * di Grassi was disqualified from the results after his first car was found to be underweight
- † Duval handed a fifteen second penalty for frequent abuse of track limits.
- ‡ da Costa finished the final lap but did not complete 75% of the race distance.
- First Mexico City ePrix to be held.
- First pole position for Jérôme d'Ambrosio
- Second career victory for Jérôme d'Ambrosio
- Simona de Silvestro sets a new record for most starts without a point (seven).
The post race drama meant that Sébastien Buemi extended his Championship lead at the expense of Lucas di Grassi after his disqualification. 22 points now sperated them, Buemi two short of a century, while Sam Bird remained in third, just ahead of the eventual Mexican winner Jérôme d'Ambrosio. The Belgian's form, like Bird, aided hopes of an expanded chase for the title, although both he and Bird were almost forty points behind as the season at the halfway mark.
The chaos for ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport in the final moments also saw Buemi's team Renault e.Dams extend their lead in the Team's Championship, with the Germans also falling behind Dragon Racing. DS Virgin Racing were in fourth, falling away from the top three but not under pressure from Mahindra Racing in fifth. Another poor weekend for NEXTEV TCR saw them fail to score, leaving them rooted to the foot of the table.
Only point scoring drivers and teams are shown.
Videos and Images:
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 'Mexico City, Mexico - Round 5', fiaformulae.com, (FIA Formula E, 2016), http://fiaformulae.com/en/calendar/2016-mexico-city/mexico-city-circuit.aspx, (Accessed 07/03/2016)
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 'Di Grassi stripped of Mexico win', fiaformulae.com, (FIA Formula E, 12/03/2016), http://fiaformulae.com/en/news/2016/march/di-grassi-stripped-of-mexico-win.aspx, (Accessed 13/03/2016)
- ↑ 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 3.13 3.14 3.15 3.16 3.17 3.18 3.19 3.20 3.21 3.22 3.23 3.24 3.25 3.26 3.27 3.28 3.29 3.30 'Extended Highlights - Mexico City 2016 - Formula E', youtube.com, (YouTube: FIA Formula E Championship, 16/03/2016), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=15QHWsgtES0, (Accessed 19/03/2016)
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 'Mexico City to host round five of 2015-2016 season', fiaformulae.com, (FIA Formula E, 19/11/2015), http://fiaformulae.com/en/news/2015/november/mexico-city-to-host-round-five-of-2015-2016-season.aspx, (Accessed 19/11/2015)
- ↑ 5.00 5.01 5.02 5.03 5.04 5.05 5.06 5.07 5.08 5.09 5.10 5.11 5.12 'Mexico City ePrix: Qualifying groups', fiaformulae.com, (FIA Formula E, 12/03/2016), http://fiaformulae.com/en/news/2016/march/mexico-city-eprix-qualifying-groups.aspx, (Accessed 13/03/2016)
- ↑ 6.00 6.01 6.02 6.03 6.04 6.05 6.06 6.07 6.08 6.09 6.10 6.11 6.12 6.13 6.14 6.15 6.16 'Stunning pole for D’Ambrosio', fiaformulae.com, (FIA Formula E, 12/03/2016), http://fiaformulae.com/en/news/2016/march/stunning-pole-for-dambrosio.aspx, (Accessed 13/03/2016)
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 7.7 7.8 'Fans power di Grassi to marvellous Mexico victory', fiaformulae.com, (FIA Formula E, 12/03/2016), http://fiaformulae.com/en/news/2016/march/fans-power-di-grassi-to-marvellous-mexico-victory.aspx, (Accessed 19/03/2016)