Formula E

Green lights for Formula E season 10: XXL preview of the Hankook Mexico City E-Prix

Svenja König

Svenja König

Spectators-Mexico-City-stadium-2023

Drivers and teams are prepared, the track is set up and 27,000 spectators in the Foro Sol baseball stadium alone will witness the start of Formula E's tenth season this weekend (13 January). Mexico City has been one of the few constants on the racing calendar for many years and will host the season opener for the second time in a row in 2024. Find out everything you need to know about the E-Fiesta at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in our big preview.

What's happened since the season finale

Generally speaking, the preparation for the tenth Formula E season was bumpy: During the pre-season tests in Valencia, there was a fire in the paddock on the first day of testing. After a break of around two days, operations were able to resume. In addition, the E-Prix in Hyderabad was cancelled following a change in local politics.

A lot has also changed on the driver market: Ex-champion Nyck de Vries is returning to the electric series after a brief stint in Formula 1 and will join forces with Edoardo Mortara for Mahindra. Lucas di Grassi therefore looked for a new employer and returned to ABT. There he took over the cockpit from Robin Frijns, who in turn moved to Envision.

World champion Jake Dennis got a new team-mate in Norman Nato at Andretti following Andre Lotterer's Formula E retirement, while vice-champion Nick Cassidy moved to Jaguar. His predecessor Sam Bird went to McLaren and replaced Rene Rast. Nissan signed Oliver Rowland and Maserati the only rookie for the 2024 season: Jehan Daruvala.

Formula E also recently released the first episodes of season 3 of its behind-the-scenes series "Formula E Unplugged". The episodes are available for free on YouTube.

 

Where will the Formula E season opener take place in Mexico?

With a population of 8.8 million, Mexico City is one of the most important cities in Latin America. The 700-year-old metropolis is located in a basin at an average altitude of 2,240 metres. The active Popocatepetl volcano is located in the immediate vicinity. As the capital, Mexico City is also the busiest city in the country and has to contend with severe air pollution due to its geographical location in a closed valley.

The metropolis wants to counteract this with sustainable transport concepts and e-mobility. In addition to the use of a cable car to connect different parts of the city and the recent introduction of e-buses, this also includes Formula E. The electric series has been travelling to Mexico City every year since the 2016 season. Only during the Covid19 pandemic did it switch to the permanent race track in Puebla, as the pit facilities at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez were used as a temporary hospital.

Fast Facts | Mexico City

  • One obstacle to the widespread use of electric cars in Mexico is the lack of charging points. According to mexicobusiness.news, only 1,100 charging points have been installed in the entire country so far. By comparison, in Germany there were already 85,000 plus 20,000 fast-charging stations in 2023.
  • Berlin has undoubtedly hosted the most Formula E race weekends. However, with a total of seven events, Mexico City is in second place as the metropolis has been a permanent fixture on the racing calendar since season 2.
  • In terms of the number of races held, Mexico City is still only in 6th place behind Berlin, London, New York, Diriyah and Rome, but is the only one of these cities never to have hosted a "double-header".
  • The Mexico City E-Prix 2023 was the longest race in Formula E history with a distance of 107.63 kilometres. This corresponds almost exactly to the distance covered by Bertha Benz on the first long-distance drive of an automobile in 1888. Back then, she drove from Mannheim to Pforzheim.
  • As in the previous season, ERT (previously: Nio 333 Racing) has the youngest driver duo with Sergio Sette Camara and Dan Ticktum. They are on average 25 years, one month and eleven days old. ABT Cupra is the oldest team this year. Lucas di Grassi and Nico Müller are on average 35 years, seven months and 22 days old.

What's the schedule for the Formula E race in Mexico?

Free practice 1 will take place on Friday already but all other sessions - free practice 2, qualifying and race - are to be held on Saturday. You can find the exact times for your time zone on our event page for the Hankook Mexico City E-Prix.

Coverage of the qualifying and race depends on the country you're in. But you can watch all free practice sessions in a free livestream with English commentary at e-Formula.news.

What characterises the race track in Mexico City?

The Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez is one of the fastest circuits on the Formula E racing calendar and, with its location at 2,250 metres, also the highest. The altitude poses a particular challenge for drivers and equipment. The track layout itself utilises a shorter section of the Formula 1 track built in the same place and is particularly known for its long, fast straight and a technically demanding section in the infield.

The highlight of the lap is the passage through the former baseball stadium "Foro Sol", where around 27,000 fans are expected to cheer on the Formula E drivers. A total of 40,000 spectators are expected to line the track. The Attack Zone, where the Attack Mode must be activated twice during the race, will be located on the outside of turn 15 like last year.

Which group will the drivers start qualifying in?

There have been no changes to the qualifying and race programme ahead of the tenth season. Qualifying will therefore continue to be held as a time trial in group and knockout mode. You can find all the details about the format on our wiki page.

Normally, the groups are put together based on the World Championship standings. As Mexico is the first race of the season, this is not possible this time. Instead, the teams can freely allocate their drivers to the groups, as long as one driver from each team is represented in each group. The distribution is expected to be published on Friday after the FIA technical checks. This article will therefore be revised in due course.

What will the weather be like in Mexico City?

While Europe is experiencing frosty temperatures in some places, Formula E is fleeing to warmer regions for the start of the season. Temperatures in Mexico City will be around 25 degrees Celsius this weekend. Sunshine is expected to be the main feature, although some clouds may appear in front of the sun in the meantime. Metrologists are currently calculating a 20 per cent chance of rain.

Who are the favourites?

Predicting the favourites to win the race or even the title before the first race of the season is always a tricky business. This is because the test drives in Valencia are usually not very representative of the following season. Nevertheless, it is safe to assume that Jaguar and customer team Envision are the favourites ahead of the first race.

The "big cat" performed strongly in the first race simulation in Valencia, finishing first and third, with Mitch Evans also setting the fastest time of the test week. With Nick Cassidy, Jaguar has brought a second top Formula E driver into the team. The objective here is clearly defined: Having already been the most successful manufacturer in 2023, the aim this year is to win the drivers' and/or team title.

Speaking of titles: defending the title is on the to-do list for Jake Dennis. After Jean-Eric Vergne, he would be only the second driver in Formula E to achieve this feat. In Valencia, the Porsche drivers were still at a disadvantage compared to Jaguar. However, the Porsche cars have been particularly strong in Mexico in recent years. This could also increase the chances of Pascal Wehrlein and Antonio Felix da Costa bringing a title home to Germany.

It is difficult to predict how competitive the DS and Nissan cars will be in Mexico. This will of course also affect the performance of their partner teams Maserati and McLaren. The manufacturers Mahindra and ERT are the ones to worry about. They were already lagging behind last season and had frustrating test days in Spain. Can they strike back in Mexico? Find out on Saturday evening from 9 pm (CET). We wish you a great 2024 season!

By the way: Our readers have also organised a free community prediction game for the 2024 Formula E season. If you want to take part, you have until the weekend to submit your first predictions or register!

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