DRAGON / PENSKE AUTOSPORT looks set to leave a disappointing Season 6 in the dust, with Sergio Sette Camara and Nico Mueller steering the squad to a points total more than 10 times that of their haul in the whole of 2019/20 with just the season-opening double header in Diriyah under their belts.
Team boss Jay Penske said over the off-season that the outfit had committed more resource to their Season 7 push, with the aim of providing Mueller and Sette Camara with a more competitive package on an ever more hotly-contested grid. Its new powertrain - with support from new partners Bosch - will be ready for Round 3 in Rome, but the trip to Saudi Arabia already showed a dramatic uptick in the team's fortunes.
Quick out of the box
Mueller was on the brink of Super Pole ahead of Round 1, but with Sette Camara hitting the wall at the final turn the yellow flags were thrown meaning the Swiss' time - good enough for a provisional fifth - was deleted for improving under the Sector 3 caution.
His car then failed to make it past the formation lap, forcing him into starting from the pits before winding up 23rd, whilst Sette Camara could only climb to 20th from the back of the grid.
The pair followed through on that earlier pace, though, with both drivers making Super Pole ahead of Round 2. Mueller set the early benchmark but eventually slipped to sixth, before his Brazilian teammate fired to second. "I felt like we had the potential to be in Super Pole," he said. "It's hard for everyone to believe after Berlin and I really wanted to prove to everyone that DRAGON can be up there."
DRAGON's race pace does the talking
The duo mixed it with the reigning champions in DS TECHEETAH's Antonio Felix da Costa and Jean-Eric Vergne early on, and although they had to let DS go to focus on and make the best of their own race, the DRAGON drivers had the last laugh.
Vergne was slapped with a 24-second penalty for failing to use both ATTACK MODE activations as the race was drawn to a premature conclusion with a red flag, and with Envision Virgin Racing's Nick Cassidy also penalised - for speeding under yellow flag conditions - the DRAGONs wound up fourth and fifth, with Sette Camara leading them home.
That was the squad's best single race points haul since Round 2 of the 2015/16 season in London, and its first double points-score since the 2018 Punta del Este E-Prix. Their qualifying group may have proven favourable, but the job still had to be done on-track and Mueller and Sette Camara proved they could mix it at the sharp end - and that with the team's Season 6 powertrain.
'An indescribable sensation' and more to come...
"Fourth place and my first points won!" said Sette Camara. "Starting first row on the grid at this level was an indescribable sensation and these results show that we're on the right track. Thanks to the team for delivering this incredible result and thanks so much for everyone who voted for me in FANBOOST!"
The result also meant DRAGON equalled its best ever start to a Formula E campaign, matching 2015/16's tally after two rounds with 22. With a new powertrain on the way - and a key technology partnership with Bosch in the bag - as well as two talented and fiesty drivers in the cockpit, Mueller feels this is just the start for the team.
"Finally, some good points," said Mueller post-race. "Starting from sixth, we knew it was going to be a tough one for us with Formula E's big boys breathing down our necks, but we executed our plan sweetly and finished seventh on the road.
"There was a little smile under my helmet. From being 'lost' in Free Practice (following his early shunt) to two Super Pole appearances and fifth in Round 2. It's a great start to Season 7 and we'll keep digging and improving. Thanks to the team and to all the fans for their support."