Jean-Eric Vergne desperate with Mitch Evans in Mexico: "Very difficult to overtake on this track"
The opening race of the tenth Formula E season will not go down in history as a spectacle. As in previous years, Mexico was able to impress with a great atmosphere and interesting tactics. However, there were just 43 successful overtakes - not many by Formula E standards. The drivers behind technically troubled Mitch Evans had the most difficulties, especially Jean-Eric-Vergne.
The weekend had started well for Jaguar driver Mitch Evans: He set the fastest lap of all the sessions and started from a promising fifth place. However, a problem with the steering shortly after the start of the race dashed his hopes of a podium. As the race progressed, the New Zealander therefore focussed primarily on his rear-view mirrors. The tale of woe for his pursuers began...
Jean-Eric-Vergne closed the gap towards the middle of the race and tried to set Evans up for an attack. The race had gone well for the two-time Formula E champion up to that point. The Frenchman had only started the race from the fifth row of the grid - two places behind his Belgian team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne, who had been penalised. Nevertheless, Vergne fought his way up to sixth place in just a few laps.
Right time, right place for Vergne
He also benefited from DS Penske's good Attack Mode timing: On lap 7, both black and gold cars drove through the Attack Zone, making Vergne the only driver alongside Nick Cassidy and Pascal Wehrlein who no longer had to drive over the loops in time for the safety car on lap 10.
As his rivals were only allowed to activate their second Attack Mode after the safety car, Vergne was able to overtake both Andretti, Vandoorne and McLaren driver Jake-Hughes in the two laps immediately after the neutralisation when they took the longer route over the activation loops.
However, Vergne was unable to get any further ahead, as he was unable to find a way past Evans despite having better pace. "It was very difficult to overtake on this track, but our pace showed that we could definitely have achieved a better result. From tenth place, it was a good result and a good start to the season," said Vergne.
Circuit characteristics in Mexico make overtaking difficult
The Frenchman was obviously not the only one who could have gone faster: From Evans' fifth-placed Jaguar to Edoardo Mortara in 13th, all the drivers were within just 3.5 seconds.
Last year, when the Gen3 cars made their first appearance, a similar picture emerged. Back then, however, it was not Evans but Lucas di Grassi who put in a great defence performance in the Mahindra. After his sensational pole position, he finished third in his relatively inefficient Mahindra car.