18 Jun 21

Jack Nicholls previews Formula E's maiden visit to Puebla

Formula E commentator Jack Nicholls checked in to give fiaformulae.com a mid-Season 7 update as the 2020/21 ABB FIA Formula E World Championship heads towards its half-way stage and Rounds 8 & 9 in Puebla, Mexico (June 19 & 20).

This weekend, Formula E will move past the half-way mark in a landmark 2020/21 season - the campaign in which it became an FIA World Championship. After the series’ first outing in Puebla, there will be nine races down and just six to go. The remarkable thing is that mathematically any driver could leave the vibrant city leading the championship.

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Well, that isn’t quite true. Joel Eriksson is making his Formula E debut with DRAGON / PENSKE AUTOSPORT - standing in for Nico Mueller - and if he picked up all 60 available points to him he would be just two behind Robin Frijns’ tally, as Envision Virgin Racing's Dutchman arrives as the standings leader.

Frijns’ 62 points is the lowest score of a championship leader after seven rounds in Formula E history. DS TECHEETAH's Antonio Felix da Costa had 125 points at this point in Season 6, one more than double Frijns’ haul. Naturally, this goes to show just how competitive and unpredictable this season is becoming.

Puebla E-Prix week is here! | #ChangeAccelerated

The Envision Virgin Racing driver has led the championship before, after winning in Paris in Season 5, the eighth round of the championship. Frijns then failed to score for the next four races, and fell out of title contention before winning the last race of the season in New York City.

READ MORE: Season 7 as it stands

He is also yet to win a race this season, and in fact neither has Mitch Evans (Jaguar Racing) who is third in the standings. Evans is also the only driver to have finished on the podium three times this season.

But just when things are becoming clearer, Formula E is heading to a brand new circuit and experience for everyone. The Puebla track has a whole host of unknowns. 

READ MORE: What the drivers are expecting in Puebla

The track surface is rough, and is going to be one of the biggest challenges that the Michelin tyres will face all season, particularly through the long final left hander at Turn 15 on the oval banking.

At venues like Berlin, or in cold conditions, whether teams and drivers can get the tyres working can be the difference between a brilliant weekend or an awful weekend, and I get the feeling Puebla could be one of those venues.

EXPLAINED: Formula E's Michelin Pilot Sport EV tyres

Puebla is also the first new venue on the calendar since the Bern E-Prix two years ago. Formula E had never raced at Valencia before, but the track had played host to enough testing that it wasn’t really a new location for the teams.

Who will get up to speed the quickest? And will it provide an opportunity for this season’s rookies to impress, as they will be on a more even playing field?

For me, the biggest pressure for a result is on Mercedes-EQ. The team were leading the drivers and teams standings after their double podium in the first race in Valencia, but neither Nyck de Vries or Stoffel Vandoorne have scored points in the last two races, and their pace in Monaco qualifying was concerning.

MID-SEASON REVIEW: Catch up with Season 7 so far

De Vries is still second in the standings, but Vandoorne is down in sixth, 14 points off Frijns out front. Monaco was the first race this season where the pace never seemed to exist for Mercedes. Admittedly, de Vries knocked himself out of qualifying power on his hot lap, but even in the practice sessions, the Silver Arrows were nowhere near the pace of the Jaguars. 

As ever, we never know which way the title fight is going to turn next. It certainly seems as though Jaguar, Mercedes and DS TECHEETAH are the front-runners, but it's advantage Robin Frijns at the head of that chasing pack.

Keep track of all the headlines, timing, inside stories and results from the 2021 CBMM Niobium Puebla E-Prix