Mexico City, Mexico|28 Mar, 2017

Julius Baer Mexico City ePrix race preview

It’s time for round four of the season, the Julius Baer Mexico City ePrix, which is being held on the famous Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in the Mexico capital.

A little over a month has passed since the last installment of the championship in Argentina, and the pressure is mounting for the teams to stop Renault.edams and Sebastien Buemi from running away with it.

 

The story so far

Reigning champion Sebastien Buemi has got off to an almost perfect title defence with a hat-trick of wins in the opening three races.

Buemi is now in such a position of dominance, he will lead the championship after the race regardless of the result. Lucas di Grassi remains his closest challenger, and scored his first Julius Baer Pole Position last time out. Another first in Buenos Aires was a podium finish for TECHEETAH, following second place for Jean-Eric Vergne. 

Nico Prost has been fourth in every race so far this season, which leaves him third in the standings. Felix Rosenqvist has taken scored two Visa Fastest Laps for Mahindra as well as pole and a podium in Marrakech, which has left him fifth in the points behind Vergne.

Sam Bird’s second place for DS Virgin Racing in Morocco has him sixth in the standings, while the only other driver to have finished on the podium – Nick Heidfeld who was third in Hong Kong for Mahindra – is seventh.

 

Drivers’ championship

 

  1. Sebastien Buemi – 75
  2. Lucas di Grassi – 46
  3. Nico Prost – 36
  4. Jean-Eric Vergne – 22
  5. Felix Rosenqvist – 20
  6. Sam Bird – 18

 

Teams’ championship

 

  1. Renault e.dams – 111
  2. Abt Schaeffler – 60
  3. Mahindra – 37
  4. NextEV NIO – 25
  5. TECHEETAH – 22
  6. DS Virgin – 19

 

The Mexico City ePrix

The Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez is the only permanent racing facility on the Formula E calendar, albeit in a very different form to the version used in Formula 1 and the World Endurance Championship.

The layout is based on a modified version of a short oval that was created at the track for the local stock car racing series. It utilises the famous Peraltada final corner and the spectacular stadium section, and the track is just over two kilometers in length. It has been slightly altered for this season, with the Turn 1 chicane reprofiled to make for better racing. 

Jerome D’Ambrosio started last year’s race from pole and led for the opening half of the race. However, after the mid-race car change, Lucas di Grassi used his FanBoost perfectly, to grab the lead down the start/finish straight and into Turn 1.

Di Grassi then pulled away leaving D’Ambrosio to battle wheel-to-wheel with Buemi. The Belgian defended hard, and there was minor contact as things became heated. Buemi finally did pull off a move, but ran off the track in the process and was forced to let his rival back through.

They finally crossed the line side-by-side, with D’Ambrosio a nose ahead. When di Grassi was disqualified after failing post-race checks, the Dragon Racing driver was declared the winner.

 

The track

Length: 2.092km

Turns: 17 – 7 left, 10 right

Direction: Clockwise

Surface: Asphalt

Outright lap record: 1:03.341 (118.889km/h)

Official lap record: 1:04.569 (116.638km/h)

 

Local hero

Esteban Gutierrez makes his Formula E debut in this weekend’s race with the TECHEETAH team. He is the second Mexican driver to race in the series, succeeding Salvador Duran. 

Gutierrez is a veteran of 59 Formula 1 grands prix for Sauber and Haas. He scored a career best finish of seventh in the 2013 Japanese Grand Prix, while his best qualifying position was eighth in that year’s Korean race. He set the fastest lap in the 2013 Spanish Grand Prix, and in total scored six points.

Before Formula 1, he spent two seasons in GP2, winning four races and taking third place in the 2012 championship standings. Prior to that he was the inaugural GP3 champion driving for the ART team. He was also the first Formula BMW Eurocup champion, taking the title in 2008.

 

The city

Mexico City is the capital of Mexico and also its biggest city, with a population of 8.84 million, which rises to 21.2m if you count the whole of the metropolitan area, making it the second largest city in the western hemisphere after New York.

The air quality of the city is rated at 57 out of 100, which is considered moderate, and represents a significant improvement of around 50 per cent since Formula E last visited.

Mexico City became famous for its terrible air quality in the 1990s and around six in 10 people there suffer from respiratory problems. However, in recent years it has become a model for cities trying to improve air quality. To combat these issues a number of incentives have been introduced including days when people are encouraged not to drive, and the citizen-led Via Verde Project, which is turning 40,000 metres of highway pillars into vertical gardens to absorb pollution, generate oxygen and moderate traffic noise.

Mexico now ranks in the top 10 countries for clean energy investment. It currently produces around eight per cent of its energy by renewable means, mainly wind. A lack of infrastructure means that electric car ownership remains low, but there has been a recent upsurge in hybrid sales.

 

How to watch

For details of where to watch the Julius Baer Mexico City ePrix in your country click here. Live streaming is available in selected markets on www.fiaformulae.com, the official Formula E app and via YouTube and Facebook.

Live timing and text commentary is available on the Formula E website.