DS TECHEETAH's Puebla weekend was undoubtedly one to forget, as the reigning Teams' champions - among others - wrestled with a tricky track surface, high temperatures and tyre management, as well as the walls at the Autodromo Miguel E. Abed.
DS TECHEETAH's double title-winner Jean-Eric Vergne and reigning champion Antonio Felix da Costa may have struggled to secure the results they'd have hoped for in Mexico, but both left Puebla unscathed, in near enough the same situation as they'd arrived.
Frenchman Vergne saw himself removed from the running in contact with Nyck de Vries (Mercedes-EQ) in Round 8 and lost control of his own accord, tumbling down the order before recovering to eighth, in race two. Even so, he finds himself just six points worse off in the chase for the Drivers' World Championship, with Edo Mortara (ROKiT Venturi Racing) climbing the order himself from some way back thanks to a storming 40-point haul.
Da Costa, meanwhile, sealed sixth on Saturday before clouting the wall at Turn 7 - a real driver trap all weekend - in Round 9 and retired the car as a result, with terminal damage to his left-front suspension. It was a net gain for the champion despite his struggles, though, as prior standings leader Robin Frijns (Envision Virgin Racing) fared worse still with a complete non-score in Puebla.
“We go home with a decent situation in terms of championship positions," says the Portuguese. "I had a really nice race on Saturday, and on Sunday we were doing a cool race again, coming from the back because of the qualifying in Group 1.
"We got really unlucky when another driver hit the wall and peeled off many meters of a sponsorship plastic banner, which was collected by my car. Temperatures went through the roof, I had no balance anymore, it was very hard to drive.
"It’s a very unusual thing, but it happened to us today. As a team we certainly learnt some lessons, that will make us stronger and I am really confident for the last six rounds.”
A maiden trip to the podium for Nick Cassidy (Envision Virgin Racing) in the second race of the double-header in Mexico, Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler's first silverware of the year via a Lucas di Grassi-Rene Rast one-two in the opening race from Puebla and that big score for Mortara meant that the Drivers' table saw a shuffle, rather than any breakaways.
Twelve drivers now sit within 25 points - one race win - of Mortara at the top of the pile, where eight found themselves in the same bounds after Round 7 in Monaco. Everything's liable to change, and fast, in Formula E.
“Sunday proved very difficult to drive the car," said Vergne. "I had a lot of oversteer and the rear tyres were gone by mid-race. It was really a question of hanging on, but it was very difficult to keep the car on the track.
"I scored four points, it is not what I wanted but it is better than nothing. For the championship, none of the big contenders scored many points, let’s see the positive, and I am less than one win away from the lead, with six races remaining, so everything is still possible, but we need to regroup and understand why we did not performed fully today.”
“The team leaves Mexico with some points that could prove crucial at the end of the season," adds DS Performance Director Thomas Chevaucher. "The overall result was not up to our ambitions and the performance level of our car and our drivers, but we always learn from challenging weekends and they make us stronger."