DS endures tough, 'frustrating' start to Season 9 in Mexico City

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DS endures tough, 'frustrating' start to Season 9 in Mexico City

DS PENSKE were among the favourites heading to the Season 9 opener in Mexico City, with strong pace and plenty of ground covered at testing in Valencia. It didn't quite go to plan for reigning champion Stoffel Vandoorne or teammate Jean-Eric Vergne at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, however.

DS Mexico City

The former managed 14th and the latter 11th in a qualifying session that would set the tone for the pair's race. "Things started quite well in Free Practice, with both cars running in the top five in each session," started Vandoorne. "The car felt very good but in qualifying, we couldn't get a clean lap when we needed one due to traffic. We didn't manage to capitalise on what we knew we had in performance from Free Practice."

It was tough going come Round 1 for both Vandoorne and Vergne. Pace looked good, as did energy management, and initially, the pair did make ground. Vandoorne clambered to 11th, just behind Vergne who had made the points with 10th spot by the end of the first round of ATTACK MODE activations.

Points slip away in eventful opener for Vergne

From there, though, it took a turn for Vergne - the Frenchman clipping Sacha Fenestraz (Nissan) after misjudging the length of the nose of his car at Turns 5 & 6 while attempting to make a move for position. It's Vergne's third generation in Formula E, and the leap to new machinery clearly doesn't get easier with experience.

READ MORE: The Mexico City opener in numbers

"It was my mistake, it was definitely not on purpose," said Formula E's only multiple champion. "He went wide and I thought I'd try to move up the inside, but the front wing of the car is much further away from the cockpit compared to GEN2 - that surprised me."

Vergne Mexico City

Yes, the GEN3 is some 200mm shorter than the outgoing GEN2 but the cockpit is set further back in the car, relatively speaking. There's more nose to worry about, and Vergne will be keeping his clean going forward. "I didn't expect us to clash but now I know for the future," added the Frenchman.

It got worse from there, with Vergne slowing over the line and slipping to 12th at the chequered flag - reportedly, JEV's car reading a different usable energy figure than was the case.

"This is not the result we were wishing for," he added. "I fought hard to stay in the points and unfortunately on the last lap I had a battery issue right before the finish line. Its very frustrating after giving it my all to lose points, points that I know will be very important at the end of the season.

READ MORE: Jack Nicholls on the season opener

"I want to keep the positives from the weekend, though, as our car seems to be good. There’s a lot of things to learn from this weekend and it’s a long season, so I feel our take aways from this weekend will only make us stronger."

Vandoorne Mexico City

Reigning champ Vandoorne opens 2022/23 account

Vandoorne did manage to pick his way through to 10th and a solitary point - something he'll take. It's a long season; and only once has the winner of the opener gone on to be crowned champion - Sebastien Buemi was that driver, back in 2015/16.

"This was obviously not the perfect weekend," said Vandoorne. "I think that everyone on the team wished to leave Mexico with more points. One point is already something and its better than nothing. 

"Starting from 14th position, I knew that it would not be simple. The race had a lot of cautions and Safety Car periods. Ultimately, it was very difficult to overtake and I was not able to improve my position better than 10th."