The fourth race of the 2019/20 Formula E championship is set for this Saturday, as the fifth running of the Mexico City ePrix takes place.

The Circuit

Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez - 2020 Formula E Mexico ePrix

Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez
Location Mexico City, Mexico Circuit Length 2.592 km / 1.611 mi
Opened 1959 First Formula E Event 2016
Direction Clockwise Lap Record To be established (new layout)

A heavily revised track layout greets the teams and drivers as they arrive at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez, with three chicanes removed, one corner revised, and a new extension to the circuit adding approximately 500 metres to the lap length. The run to Turn 1 has been slightly extended and the complex itself is no longer the start of a right-left chicane – instead, it is a tight right-hand turn which leads in the sweeping right-hand curve formed by one end of the circuit’s oval layout.

This sweeper no longer leads onto the back straight; rather the circuit takes a tight left-hand corner at Turn 3 and enters the new extension to the layout, running reverse direction down a portion of the circuit used for the Formula One Grand Prix. Turn 4 is a right-hand kink, leading to a pair of 90-degree right-handers that mark Turns 5 and 6. The cars then run in the normal Grand Prix circuit direction, through a left-hand kink for Turn 7 (similar to Turn 4 but in the opposite direction and with a slightly tighter radius) before exiting the new addition to the circuit and rejoining the back straight of the oval layout through a second left-hand kink at Turn 8.

The chicane in the back straight has been deleted from the new circuit layout, so the next corner – Turn 9 – is the right-hand, 90-degree turn into the stadium section. The stadium complex remains unchanged, with cars moving through a sequence of three left-hand corners (Turns 10, 11 and 12), followed by two right-hand turns (Turns 13 and 14) and exiting the stadium alongside where they entered, with another 90-degree right-hander at Turn 15.

Next comes the final significant change to the layout – and possibly the most anticipated – as the Formula E drivers will face the infamous Peraltada corner in its entirety for the first time. The chicane which interrupted the curve half-way around (the site of a major incident during last year’s race) is no longer present, giving drivers a flat-out run from the exit of the stadium right through to the end of the lap and down to Turn 1. The Peraltada is known for its lack of run off – in fact, it’s the primary reason the corner has seen less and less use in recent years – so a mistake here will have big consequences, likely ending with one or more cars in the wall.

Turns 1, 3, 5, 6 and the stadium complex are the likely passing opportunities, with the extended run to Turn 1 likely to give drivers plenty of time to set up a pass into the opening corner – it will likely be a hot spot of action during the race.

Lucas di Grassi, Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler e-tron FE05 & Pascal Wehrlein, Mahindra Racing M5Electro- 2019 Formula E Mexico City ePrix

Di Grassi claimed a last-gasp victory at last year’s Mexico City ePrix when Wehrlein’s Mahindra ran out of energy just metres from the finish line.

Mexico City presents a number of unique challenges due to its location, and specifically its elevation – at around 2,200 metres above sea level, the altitude means the air is much thinner than seen at other circuits.

While not effecting electric powertrains in the same way as internal combustion engines are, the thin air does make both the aerodynamic performance and cooling efficiency less effective on the Formula E car. Reduced cooling, in turn, has an effect on battery performance, with energy management becoming a critical factor – this was seen last year in Mexico City, where Pascal Wehrlein ran out of energy on the finish line, allowing Lucas di Grassi through for victory at the last possible moment (a penalty subsequently pushed Wehrlein down to sixth position), while both Nissan e.Dams cars also fell to the back of the field as they depleted their energy reserves on the final lap.

Warmer temperatures are forecast for this year’s Mexico City race with a maximum of 26 degrees Celsius for race day. This heat, combined with the significant increase in flat-out running to end the lap, will make energy management an even greater challenge in 2020 and will likely be critical to the race outcome.

Tyre management will also be a focus in Mexico City, as the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez surface is also quite abrasive – between tyre management, energy management and the normal frenetic battles of a Formula E race, drivers and teams will certainly have their hands full as the event unfolds.

The Form Guide

So far in season six, two of the German manufacturers have led the way: BMW i Andretti have won the last two of the three races completed to date – one for Alexander Sims in Saudi Arabia, and last time out Maximillian Günther claimed his maiden victory – to have the team sitting at the top of the Teams’ Championship standings.

Sitting just behind BMW in the standings is Mercedes, who also lead the Drivers’ standings with Stoffel Vandoorne.

Both are likely to continue their form and challenge in Mexico City, but it is the series’ longest-standing German manufacturer who has made this event their own. Of the four Mexican races completed to date, Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler has won the last three.

Lucas di Grassi claimed victory in 2017 and 2019, while team mate Daniel Abt scored the win in 2018. This rich vein of form – across both the Gen1 and Gen2 Formula E car platforms, no less – will certainly give the Audi squad a big confidence boost heading back to Mexico City, and mark the team as pre-race favourites to challenge again in 2020.

2019-20 ABB FIA Formula E Championship – CBMM Niobium Mexico City E-Prix
Date 15 February 2020 Free Practice Session 1 Sat 07:30-08:15
Free Practice Session 2 Sat 10:00-10:30 Group Qualifying Sessions Sat 11:45-12:21
‘Super Pole’ Sat 12:30-12:50 Race (45 minutes + 1 lap) Sat 16:00-17:00

Session times quoted in Central Standard Time (GMT -06:00)

Images via ABB FIA Formula E Championship

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Mitch Timms

Journalist at MotorsportM8
Professional motorsport engineer and all-round tech head.