Max Günther loses Mexico podium in Formula E opener due to Attack Mode, but is "really satisfied"
With twelve points at the season opener, Maserati had a much better start to the Formula E year in Mexico than a year ago. Maximilian Günther in particular shone with a strong qualifying performance and an unremarkable but successful race result. Rookie Jehan Daruvala did not score any points, but delivered a solid first E-Prix weekend that gives hope.
The Monegasque racing team can breathe a sigh of relief - despite a gruelling first free practice session as on Friday evening (CET), Maserati started with a bang. The first lap times had barely appeared on the timing screen when Günther crashed into the barriers on the final corner. A non-competitive first session from Daruvala did not make the start to the weekend any better.
The turnaround was not long in coming, however. Contrary to general expectations, Günther was able to finish the second free practice session in second place, just six hundredths of a second behind Mitch Evans. The German was even able to improve on this good form in qualifying, winning Group B and advancing to the first knockout phase in 2024. There he met Jaguar driver Evans, to whom he was clearly defeated.
On the starting grid, however, Maserati was not actually in fifth place, but started from third place directly behind Pascal Wehrlein and Sebastien Buemi. The reason for this was grid penalties against both Jaguar drivers.
Attack Mode strategy costs Günther the podium
When the lights went out on the grid, Günther got off to a good start and was able to position himself next to Buemi for Turn 1, but it was not enough to overtake. In third place, he was able to hold his own for the first third of the race and kept both Jaguar cars behind him. By lap 15, almost the entire leading group had already completed the Attack Mode loop twice. Only Günther still had to call on his extra power a second time.
This Attack Mode was to cost the Maserati driver his podium. Nick Cassidy was able to close the gap to such an extent that the New Zealander moved ahead of Günther as he took the wide turn in the stadium. The rest of the race was calm and unremarkable. Günther was unable to fight his way back, nor was he under pressure from Mitch Evans behind him, who was struggling with technical problems.
In the end, Günther finished fourth and gave a positive summary: "It was a very good first weekend for us with a third place in qualifying, a fourth place in the race and some very good points. It's a shame that we lost out on the podium with the second Attack Mode, but we gave it our best shot. I'm really satisfied today."
Happy with P4! ?? https://t.co/80BysxANsn- Maximilian Günther (@maxg_official) January 13, 2024
Satisfactory but unremarkable Daruvala debut
Unlike Günther, it was not enough for Formula E debutant Jehan Daruvala to make it into the duel phase of qualifying. The Indian reached a good 17th position on the grid though, finishing ahead of the two former champions Lucas di Grassi and Nyck de Vries as well as both ERT drivers. "My main goal was to drive a flawless race and reach the chequered flag," said Daruvala's mission in Mexico.
The race was unremarkable for him, but also flawless. The final result - 16th place - was better than his starting position and made the young Formula E rookie happy: "Today was my first time on the track in full racing conditions and it was a very positive experience. I will be able to build on my performance in Diriyah and continue to improve."
The "double-header" in Saudi Arabia takes place on 26/27 January.