The return of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship to the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez on February 12 underscores the role that Mexico’s rich tradition of auto racing serves in the sport’s march to a sustainable future.
Building on the country’s legacy of brilliant drivers, enthusiastic fans and colorful races – Carrera Panamericana, Baja 1000 and Formula 1 dating back to 1963 – the fully electric series alights in Mexico’s capital city for the sixth time. The 2.6-kilometer circuit (1.6 miles) presents special challenges for the teams of the ABB Formula E World Championship, not the least of which is its elevation of more than 2,200 meters (7,200 feet). Not only does the thin air place greater demands on cooling systems for battery and electronics, the reduced downforce comes into play on the course’s long sweeping turns that open and close each lap.
The 11 teams battling for the Season 8 points title arrive in Mexico following a thriller of a season-opening double-header in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia. The 2021/22 campaign opener duplicated last season’s results, as ABB ambassador and reigning world champion Nyck de Vries of the Mercedes EQ team, winner of last year’s first round, once again stood atop the podium. Round 2 went to Edoardo Mortara of ROKiT Venturi Racing, runner-up in the Season 7 World Championship. The ROKiT crew holds a razor-thin edge – just a single point – over Mercedes in the teams title chase.
Mexico City’s track, which uses sections of a renowned permanent course, provides an ideal showcase for the performance and adaptability of the battery-powered Formula E cars. The combination of long straight sections, a vexing hairpin and the demanding Peraltada loop leading to the final sweeper, tests the top speed, braking and grip of the cars to the maximum. Even so, the electric cars maintain a distinct advantage over internal combustion vehicles, producing full power without any performance loss resulting from the elevation of Mexico City.
The Mexico City E-Prix is certain to hold high hopes for ABB Ambassador Lucas Di Grassi of ROKiT Venturi Racing , who won at this circuit in 2017 – on his way to a season championship – and again in 2019. A successful introduction of the new tournament-style qualifying system helped to set a starting grid that better reflected the performance of individual drivers and cars. At the same time, Di Grassi noted to the press that the finish of Round 2 under the revised “extra time” rules invoked to compensate for a safety car period was in need of some fine-tuning. At issue is managing the available energy – a matter deeply familiar to ABB – to assure that the cars will be able to finish the race at peak performance levels.
ABB has a longstanding presence in Mexico, having begun operations there 60 years ago, and today has five production, engineering, service, research and development centers, including the manufacturing complex in San Luis Potosí that is the first industrial plant in Mexico to generate its own energy, thanks to its photovoltaic generation blocks. These facilities support Mexico’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gases by 22 percent and carbon emissions by 51 percent by 2030.
Developments in recent weeks revealed the continuing viability of the ABB Formula E World Championship as the first sport to operate with net-zero carbon impact since inception. Maserati, a brand that carries a celebrated motorsport history, will in 2023 enter the series, returning to single-seater competition after an absence of more than six decades. And it’s not only automakers eager to host the sustainably powered whose zero-emissions operation make it viable for the championship to be contested in urban centers around the globe, but nations as well. India is in the process of securing a 2023 race date, with the tech-centric city of Hyderabad as a candidate city vying for a spot on the Formula E calendar.
ABB’s commitment to e-mobility, amid a backdrop of record EV sales, model introductions and DC fast charger installations, and the mission of the ABB Formula E Championship, is deepening as the series expands its reach. Following the 2021/22 Championship, the last year for the Gen2 racecar, ABB will become the Official Charging Supplier for Season 9 (2022/23) – the first for the exciting new Gen3 racecars.