Mexico City Formula E Review

From the point of view of my own personal performance, I’m glad to say that I think I had a really good Mexico City round of the FIA Formula E Championship. I was second in qualifying in my DS Virgin Racing car, but I had to start the race from 10th because of a grid penalty. Then things just didn’t go our way, and I finished 10th, but at least I added another point to my score.

Both of the free practice sessions on the shortened version of the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez Grand Prix circuit went really positively. I felt the car was performing really well straight away, and we were up at the sharp end every time I was on the track. I ended up fifth in both sessions, but the second one ended with a little accident. It was a shame, because it meant I didn’t get my second 200kW lap in for that session. I just had a bit of bad luck with Felix Rosenqvist coming out of the pits, that put me off line for the very long Turn 1 right-hander, and when you’re running at 200kW it’s difficult to control in that scenario. It was just unlucky timing.

The boys put the car back together for qualifying, and I put in a result that I feel has been coming for a while. I ran in the third of the four groups of five cars, and when my group had finished I was fifth – in other words, on the bubble to make it into superpole, with one more group to come… I wasn’t feeling very optimistic, but nobody improved on my time in the last group so I made it in. You could see I needed a bit of luck, but I’ve been on the other side of that a few times – the last three times I’d just missed out!

Coming from free practice, this was the first time I felt I’d really put it together in qualifying this season and it was positive. In general we’ve been very consistent so far, but finally we had the roll of the dice getting into superpole. And once you get into superpole, as long as you do a good lap – without trying too hard to do a mega one – you’ll be in the mix. So to end up third, and promoted to second after there was an infringement found on Antonio Felix da Costa’s car, was really good.

So I started from 10th due to a penalty, after we’d been forced to change the gearbox since the previous race in Santiago. That means you’re right in the midfield zone, but with the feeling that if you do your thing you should move forward. But it was quite an eventful race.

Mitch Evans got a great first lap and came past a few of us, but I got back up to 10th when Nick Heidfeld made a mistake into the stadium, half-spun and left a nice gap while he was having a bit of an oversteer. Then I was part of a massive train heading up to the pit stops. You have to try really hard to stay in that train, because if you back off you’re going to get lunged. It ended up quite frantic – even though nothing dramatic happened, there was a lot of jostling.

When Rosenqvist stopped on the circuit I moved up to ninth, and then once the stops had been made I was still in that position. A penalty for Andre Lotterer put me up to eighth, but unfortunately I lost places in each of the last two laps to Edoardo Mortara and Lucas di Grassi, so I finished 10th.

They decide the length of the Formula E races two weeks before, and it seems that the longer ones do make it harder for us as a team. In the closing stages, I was looking at my energy consumption thinking ‘I’ve just got to finish’. It was a shame to lose eighth place, but I wouldn’t do anything differently that’s for sure. We did maximise what we had.

This week I’m off to the Barcelona Formula 1 test with Aston Martin Racing, who I’m driving for in the World Endurance Championship. Aston Martin are also partners with the Red Bull F1 team so we have a photo shoot with the F1 car and the Vantage GTE I’ll be racing this year, and Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo will be part of that. Then it’s a bit of sim work before I head off to the next Formula E race at Punta del Este in Uruguay. There should be no grid penalties this time, so I’m hopeful of a good result!