ROKiT Venturi Racing’s Edoardo Mortara lauded his continued good form in Mexico as he took victory in Round 9 of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship and with it wrestled away top spot in the Drivers’ World Championship.
Mortara went two places better than a previous third-place podium on the Saturday with his, and his team’s second, career E-Prix victory which lifted him 10 points clear of his nearest rival Robin Frijns at top of the standings.
TAG Heuer Porsche’s Pascal Wehrlein had secured a second-placed finish on-track but was later penalised by the addition of five seconds to his race time for improper use of FANBOOST – this after being disqualified having crossed the line first in Round 8 from Puebla on Saturday.
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Envision Virgin Racing rookie Nick Cassidy took his maiden podium while Oliver Rowland was able to secure a third-place finish following Wehrlein’s penalty.
Mortara’s victory continued an incredibly unpredictable season as he became the eighth winner in nine E-Prix this season and the Swiss racer pointed to his good fortune in the country despite a change of venue.
He said: “Mexico has been very good to me, I remember in Season 5 we got a podium in Mexico City and yesterday was already very good, but today we won. What can I say, I am speechless. He [Wehrlein] has very good pace, he kept me under immense pressure, especially 10 laps from the end when he had more energy. We had to find a way to save a bit of energy too in order to keep up the pace. It was extremely tricky – I almost crashed a couple of times – but I am extremely happy for this win.”
Formula E made its return to Mexico in front of more than 10,000 invited spectators at a permanent circuit at the Autodromo Miguel E. Abed with the traditional Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City currently a Covid-19 vaccination site.
Nissan e.dam’s Rowland began on pole and got away cleanly – learning from his stalled start on the previous day – while Mortara began sharply and quickly moved up to second past Wehrlein within the first corners of the race.
Championship leader coming into the race, Robin Frijns of Envision Virgin Racing found himself at the very back of the grid in the early stages and was forced into quickly taking his ATTACK MODE.
Race leader Rowland was one of the first to take his first ATTACK MODE seven minutes in to drop back to fourth but used his additional 35kw of power to quickly move up to third and then took his second ATTACK MODE only five minutes later.
This allowed Mortara to take first place in the race and Wehrlein second with both still to activate their second ATTACK MODE ahead of the Yorkshireman – the chasing pack led by DS TECHEETAH’s Jean-Eric Vergne had yet to take either.
Former champion Lucas di Grassi of Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler who won on the previous day went into the back of Mercedes-EQ’s title hopeful Nyck de Vries which ended the Dutchman’s race with a puncture.
Mortara suddenly was looking comfortable as he took his second ATTACK MODE and was able to re- join the race at the front of the grid to stamp his control onto the race as the midway point came and went.
It was Wehrlein in third looking the more likely to challenge than Rowland in front of him – and the German made his move with 18 minutes left after an error from Rowland saw him clip the wall as Wehrlein begin chasing down Mortara.
However, despite the gap closing, a small mistake from Wehrlein on turn six and seven handed the initiative back to the Venturi man who opened a one second lead while Kiwi rookie Nick Cassidy of
Envision Virgin Racing began to push Rowland for what seemed to be the final podium place in the closing stages.
Cassidy took third place with just a minute and a lap to go – Rowland attempted to bite back quickly but he was unable to and that was that for the podium. Meanwhile Frijns had somehow managed to lift himself from the back into the point places as the race hit its final lap, with Mortara cruising to victory.
Mortara has been known as a street-race specialist but showed his credentials on a traditional race circuit by holding strong and taking the chequered flag to announce himself as a major title contender. Mercedes-EQ still lead the Teams’ World Championship but with their lead cut to just three points.
While Mortara celebrated there was post-race drama to come for Wehrlein post-race whose rotten luck continued with a five-second penalty for overuse of power knocked him down from second place into fourth. This was just a day after he suffered a disqualification despite leading from lights to flag after Porsche had failed to declare their tyres.
The ABB FIA Formula E Championship will now head to New York City for Round 10 on July 10 with the top six drivers separate by just 13 points. You can watch the action live on Eurosport 2.
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