After another showdown in Saudi Arabia, which saw Mercedes-EQ frontman and reigning champ drop down the order after a near-perfect weekend, Mercedes Team Principal Ian James admits the team were left 'open and vulnerable.'
For the Mercedes-EQ squad, the double header ABB FIA Formula E World Championship season opener in Saudi Arabia couldn't have got off to a better start. Or at least that was the case all the up until the second race here in Diriyah.
Before Round 2, the reigning Champion and Mercedes frontman Nyck de Vries claimed a convincing win in Round 1, while his teammate Stoffel Vandoorne had scooped up a Pole position and a second place in the first race to make it a Mercedes one-two.
Then, in Qualifying ahead of the second race, de Vries clinched another Pole position, putting him well clear competition. While it should have been another easy win for de Vries behind the wheel of his potent Mercedes, it all fell apart mid-way through the race, when ROKiT Venturi's Lucas di Grassi pounced, taking the lead. By the final few minutes, de Vries was far down the order while Edoardo Mortara was up front leading his teammate di Grassi in third.
"It's massively frustrating when you have such a strong Qualifying and then you can't convert it into the positions that you wanted in the end," admitted James in a post-race interview.
"To be frank, we didn't have a car that was fast enough today and I think that leaves you open and vulnerable during the race.
"As we saw, once you get overtaken, it pushes you offline and you have a couple of incidents and you're on the marbles and then it's very difficult to really defend in that position.
"I think that's where we lost the places and we just need to work out how we got ourselves into that position and make sure that we can correct those errors."
With de Vries drop from Pole to P10, where he finished the race,the Dutch driver leaves Diriyah four points behind Round 2 winner Venturi's Edoardo Mortara, who takes the Championship lead. As for the Mercedes team, it falls just one point behind its closes rivals and customer team, Venturi.
"I'm very proud of the team," continued James. "We've come into Diriyah for the first couple of races of the season and we're going away with a healthy collection of points, so we've set ourselves up well for the remainder.
"You always learn and today was definitely a learning day for us.
"It's great to see that the power unit is doing so well - we've got a great relationship with Venturi."
Moving on to Mexico City for Round 3 on February 12, Mercedes will be working hard to correct the errors that lead to its defeat in the second round in Diriyah. While this wouldn't be the first time we've seen a customer team be more competitive than the manufacturer that provides the powertrain, Mercedes will no doubt do everything it can to curtail Venturi's lead early on in the challenge for the Teams' Championship trophy.
Published on 29th January 2022