Both Mercedes-EQ drivers Stoffel Vandoorne and reigning champion Nyck de Vries concede that Porsche "were just better today" in Qualifying, as the German manufacturer's pace picks up ahead of the Mexico City E-Prix.
After Mercedes-EQ's show of dominance in the opening two rounds of Season 8 of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship, it's fellow Stuttgart rival TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team who are closing in on reigning champions Mercedes after a stunning qualifying session put Porsche's Pascal Wehrlein on pole ahead of the Mexico City E-Prix.
"Porsche were just better today," admitted Mercedes-EQ driver Stoffel Vandoorne, moments after he lost out in the Quarter-Finals to Porsche's Pascal Wehrlein. "It wasn’t the perfect lap. I ran deep in Turn 1 and had to slow down the car completely to not hit the barriers, so I was on the back foot. From there, the car felt really different to the Groups and I had to hustle it around the lap."
Despite Vandoorne securing the Julius Baer Pole Position in Diriyah Round 1, which he then converted into a second place behind his teammate Nyck de Vries, the Belgian driver's upper hand appeared to fall short here in Mexico City as Porsche rose to the challenge.
"It’s very dynamic with the track conditions; it gets hotter and cooler and the tyres are getting warmer and warmer. Hopefully, we can figure out a balance for the race," added Vandoorne, who starts the race in Mexico eighth.
Alongside him in the garage was an equally disappointed reigning champion, as de Vries also lost out to Porsche's Andre Lotterer in another Quarters duel. "We didn’t have the real pace to fight for a front row," admitted de Vries, moments after being knocked out of his Duel. "We only just managed to come through the Groups and I wasn’t really happy, so to pull off what we did with hot tyres was strong.
"It was tough to fight against Andre (Lotterer), but everyone else around us also didn’t go any quicker.
Despite his form early in the season, the reigning champ remains upbeat about his chances, declaring he was "satisfied" with his performance given the circumstances. Starting from sixth, the Dutchman will have to play a strategic game in the race, especially with new rivals Porsche sitting on Pole (Wehrlein) and in third (Lotterer), while fellow Mercedes-powered Edoardo Mortara (ROKiT Venturi) sits in second.
"The opportunity is at the end of the race for us," said de Vries. "Energy management is always very important here and [the track is] energy sensitive. You spend a lot of energy overtaking and the tyres are also getting hot, so they’re hard to manage - it’s going to be a challenge."
Published on 12th February 2022