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Superb 2nd for Buemi and Envision Racing in Mexico

Envision Racing started its title defence in style at the Mexico City E-Prix with some serious pace and a richly deserved podium finish.

The opening race of the 2023–24 ABB FIA Formula E World Championship in Mexico City was one to remember for Envision Racing and Sébastien Buemi.

Both Buemi and team-mate Robin Frijns showed great speed throughout practice and qualifying, however the pair had mixed fortunes come race time.

For Buemi, second place at the Mexico E-Prix marks his second podium for Envision Racing, his fourth in Mexico, and with it, his best result for the team.

As the team heads to Saudi Arabia for the double-header Diriyah E-Prix, Buemi will be looking to go one better and consolidate his championship challenge. 

For Frijns, his return to Envision Racing was a tough one as his first race back with the team ended on lap eight, but the weekend wasn’t without promise. After a strong free practice and qualifying, the Dutch driver endured a difficult start to the race, dropping from seventh to 15th, before crashing out in the early stages of the race.

QUALIFYING

It was Frijns who set the pace in Group A qualifying, beating Stoffel Vandoorne and Nick Cassidy to progress to the knockout phase. In Group B, Buemi immediately set about bothering the top of the timing sheets, running fourth for most of the session. The Envision Racing man briefly headed the times before ending up a stellar third fastest, joining Frijns in the duels.

In the first quarter-final, Frijns faced off against Pascal Wehrlein. A mistake from Frijns at Turn 1 allowed his German opponent to prevail and make it into the semi-finals. Buemi went up against Jake Hughes in the McLaren.

In a close battle, Buemi managed to use all his skill and experience to beat the British driver and advance to the semi-finals.

In the semi-final, Buemi would be paired with Jaguar’s Mitch Evans. And it would be the Envision Racing driver who powered into the final, beating Evans and proving quicker in every sector. The big question remained, could Buemi claim a 17th career pole?

The answer was no. Despite a valiant attempt, Buemi had no answer for the speed of Wehrlein in the Porsche. However, it proved an encouraging opening qualifying session of Season 10 for Buemi and Envision Racing, with a front row starting slot in the bag and team-mate Frijns lining up in seventh.

THE RACE

By the time the pack emerged from the opening right-hand turn following the long start-finish straight at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez, Buemi managed to hold on to second position behind pole sitter Wehrlein. In contrast to Buemi’s solid start, team-mate Frijns went backwards, slipping from seventh to 15th, before starting to fight back at the beginning of lap two.

A collision near the rear of the pack between António Félix da Costa and Nico Müller on lap three did nothing to distract Buemi from momentarily taking the lead, as Wehrlein elected to take his first Attack Mode of the afternoon.

By lap five, it was back to grid order as Buemi took his opening Attack Mode, resuming his race in second, behind Wehrlein, and ahead of Maximilian Günther.

On lap six, Buemi hit the front, posting a fastest lap for good measure, and two laps later, a sizeable shunt for Frijns at the final corner brought out a full-course yellow leaving just one Envision Racing car in the running.

At the restart, Buemi headed Wehrlein from Günther and the Jaguar pair of Cassidy and Evans. By lap 15, Buemi sat in second place, behind Wehrlein, and with another fastest lap to his name, followed by Cassidy in third.

For several laps the leading quartet played a waiting game, saving energy and sizing each other up as the chequered flag loomed closer, with Evans and Vergne looking to join the party. 

The first major change came on lap 25 of the originally set race duration of 35 laps, as Wehrlein seemed to pull a gap of over two seconds on Buemi, who came under some serious pressure from Cassidy’s Jaguar. With the race extended to 37 laps, with two added for the earlier full course yellow, it was all to play for. 

At the start of the penultimate lap, Buemi trailed Wehrlein who looked all set for the victory, but had established a comfortable lead over Cassidy in third. By the beginning of the final lap Buemi looked all set for a podium finish to kick off his season.

And at the chequered flag it was a well-deserved second pace in the record books for the Envision Racing driver, behind eventual winner Wehrlein and ahead of Cassidy. 

“It was a smooth race and qualifying was the key as it is quite difficult to pass here,” said Buemi.

“We had a clean race and Pascal was fast. I knew he was under investigation so I didn’t push too much and I am happy with P2.

“It would have been risky to have tried to overtake him, so I decided to settle for second and the points.”

Drivers’ standings (after Rd 1):
1. Pascal Wehrlein, 28pts
2. Sébastien Buemi, 18pts
3. Nick Cassidy, 16pts
4. Maximilian Günther, 12pts
5. Mitch Evans, 10pts

Teams’ standings (after Rd 1):
1. Porsche Formula E Team, 28pts
2. Jaguar TCS Racing, 26pts
3. Envision Racing, 18pts
4. Maserati, 12pts
5. Penske, 12pts