Formula E: Pascal Wehrlein & Porsche win 2024 season opener in Mexico
Pascal Wehrlein has won the first Formula E race of the 2024 season in Mexico City. The Porsche driver celebrated a commanding victory from pole position and left nothing to be desired against the Jaguar cars of Sebastien Buemi and Nick Cassidy. Max Günther finished fourth in a relatively quiet race in front of 40,000 spectators.
Pole sitter Pascal Wehrlein got away very well at the start and defended his lead without any problems. Sebastien Buemi, on the other hand, had to spread out to defend second place on the inside lane against Max Günther. Immediately behind him, there were no changes at first. However, Robin Frijns barely moved and was lucky that nobody crashed into the back of him. The Envision returnee dropped back a long way. Champion Jake Dennis, on the other hand made up a few positions and climbed from P14 to P10. Lucas di Grassis unlucky weekend continued: The ABT returnee crashed on lap 1 with a brake problem and then returned to the pits.
Then there was another crash: Antonio Felix da Costa launched an overconfident attack on Nico Müller and lined up next to the Swiss on the inside lane. There was contact. Müller spun and slid rear-first into the TecPro barrier. He dropped to the back of the field - drama for ABT, of all things, in the 100th Formula E race in the team's history! Felix da Costa even had to park his damaged Porsche. It was the second retirement of the E-Prix after Sergio Sette Camara, whose ERT had already broken down on the way to the starting grid and had to be towed away.
On lap 3, front-runner Wehrlein picked up his first of two mandatory attack modes. As a result, he dropped back to second place behind Buemi. However, the Swiss driver did the same just one lap later and drove through the attack zone - putting Wehrlein back in front. Günther took his time to watch the whole thing and, in third place, kept the two Jaguar drivers behind him in the initial phase, who also got their first attack mode early on.
Frijns crashes in the stadium
Wehrlein picked up his second attack mode shortly afterwards. Buemi took the lead again. Then the next accident happened: Frijns lost control of his Envision in turn 16 and hit the barrier with the front end. He came to a halt in a very tight spot at the exit of the stadium, across the track - fortunately uninjured. Race director Scott Elkins first called a full-course yellow, and a little later the safety car came onto the track.
After a few minutes, the race resumed at race pace at the start of lap 12. Buemi took his second attack mode at the next opportunity and slipped behind Wehrlein again. The German now had to spread himself out for two minutes in order to keep Buemi behind him with additional power. However, he was successful in doing so. On lap 15, Günther also drove through the attack zone, allowing Nick Cassidy to move up to third place for the first time and stay there for the time being. Things then calmed down a little.
Jean-Eric Vergne (DS Penske) had made up four places after 24 of the regular 35 laps and was in sixth place behind Mitch Evans at the time. Surprisingly, the Jaguar driver had to orientate himself towards the rear rather than being able to attack Günther in front of him. Wehrlein controlled the E-Prix at this stage with a lead of more than two seconds over Buemi. Directly behind him, Jaguar newcomer Cassidy was waiting for his chance. However, there were no attacks for many minutes.
Wehrlein dominates a quiet 2nd half of the race
Wehrlein had a slight energy deficit compared to his rivals in the Top 3. Jaguar man Cassidy was in the best position on lap 30. His team-mate Evans, on the other hand, had to keep pulling away - apparently due to a technical problem. He held up the group behind him. Vergne tried to get past, but Evans defended skilfully at the crucial overtaking points. Race control announced that the race would be extended by two laps due to the safety car phase, making a total of 37 laps.
The group of four at the front remained calm: Wehrlein, Buemi, Cassidy and Günther kept a safe distance of 1.5 seconds between each other. This did not change until the final lap. Then, as expected, Cassidy turned up the pace again and set the fastest lap. However, he was no closer than one second to Buemi. Porsche radioed to his protégé that he should pay attention to his energy management, but this no longer played a role.
Nothing more remarkable happened: Wehrlein took the victory - his fifth overall in Formula E - at the 2024 season opener! Buemi finished second ahead of Cassidy and Günther. Evans successfully defended his position to the end and secured fifth place ahead of Vergne, Jake Hughes and Stoffel Vandoorne. The two Andretti drivers Dennis and Norman Nato completed the top 10.
Pascal Wehrlein took the lead in the overall standings thanks to pole position and victory. The order behind him corresponds to the race result. Porsche also leads the teams, but Jaguar follows in second place, just two points behind. World champion Envision is third. Four teams failed to score points at the start of the season. The next Formula E race will take place in just two weeks (26th/27th January). The electric series will then start with two night races in Saudi Arabia.