After facing the challenges of a dusty track in Free Practice 1 and Free Practice 2, both Sam Bird and Jean-Eric Vergne each came top of their groups during Qualifying setting a good tone prior to the race in the Virgin Racing garage.
Bird managed this despite the fact his Qualifying lap was disrupted by a crash that saw Nelson Piquet Jr take out the barriers of the first chicane. Bird restarted his qualifying lap but made a mistake on the last chicane that lost him 4/10 second and left him short of joining his team mate Jean-Eric Vergne further up the grid.
With Vergne starting the Mexico ePrix in P6 and Bird in P11, both drivers appeared to be in good form on the grid, determined to move forward.
As the race kicked off to cheering crowds Vergne came head to head with Loic Duval of Dragon Racing as he tried to overtake him coming into the first chicane, as the gap closed the two cars clashed sending Vergne into an uncontrollable spin and losing him 11 places. With a damaged car he continued with his race to make it to the pitstop.
Despite his determination to recover from this setback, the carpet was pulled from under Vergne’s feet as a technical problem with his second car in the pit-stop effectively brought his race to an end. The problem caused the Frenchman to slide to the back of the pack, ending up a lap down on his competitors and unable to recover:
“Duval blocked me and I had nowhere to go, I was so far behind. I managed to make up those few places, the car was great today and I know for a fact as I was going as fast as I could in that respect. It was a different race for me after the problem in the pit-stop, when I left the pit-lane I was being lapped by the leaders. These things happen and I don’t intend to repeat what happened today. I am learning and I know I’m not having a great year but I envisage a long term relationship with Virgin Racing and I want to do better. One thing that did cheer up my day was the amazing atmosphere here. Such brilliant fans and spectators.”
Vergne’s team mate Sam Bird brought points home for the team after starting in P10 and fighting for a further three places to finish in P6 after winner Lucas Di Grassi was disqualified after his car was found to be underweight moving Bird from P7 to P6.
“It was a tough drive and the points we gained are invaluable. I know it perhaps wasn’t the ideal outcome overall for the team but we’re resilient and like Jev says, I believe we will only improve.”
Both Virgin Racing drivers proved their popularity by finishing 3th and 4th in the #Fanboost polls behind Di Grassi and of course, Duran the local’s favourite.