• New York City 2021: From hunted to hunter

New York and Formula E are a perfect match for each other. The most populous city in the United States offers everything that drivers, teams and fans could want from a Formula E host city, and the occasion reminded everyone involved what the racing series stands for - or as Team Principal Ian James sums it up: "Formula E brings exciting events to the biggest and most important cities in the world. New York embodies everything you would expect from a host city to a Formula E event."

Precisely 727 days after the grand finale to Season 5 on 14 July 2019, the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship made its return to the Big Apple. For the fourth time, the borough of Brooklyn played host to a double-header of the all-electric racing series. For Mercedes-EQ, these two competitive outings were their first ever on the streets of New York City. The team had been hoping for a much more rewarding debut on the street circuit in the Red Hook district, but that was not to be. At the start of the weekend, however, things were looking quite promising...

Three strokes of bad luck on Saturday

The first two free practices on Saturday were solid, and the team showed good pace in both sessions. However, Nyck de Vries and Stoffel Vandoorne were unable to carry this across into qualifying.

While Nyck was obliged to cope with the usual difficult track conditions in the first qualifying group, things looked good for Stoffel until the last sector of his flying lap. Stoffel even thought he was in with a chance of getting into the Super Pole Session. But then he caught the wall a glancing blow and sustained a puncture. This put paid to his aspirations of a forward starting position.

"I have to take full responsibility for my grid position," Stoffel admitted afterwards. "The contact wasn't all that hard to be honest; it was a normal brush, but it was enough to break the rim and cause a puncture."

mercedes-eq silver arrow 02 on the track in new york city

From 18th and 21st on the grid, it was set to be a difficult E-Prix for the team. Nyck's situation deteriorated even further shortly after the start.

"As early as Lap 1, I got hit from behind," he explained. "That's happened to me three races in a row now. Although I tried to avoid the car in front of me, it was impossible. So, I hit the guy in front and lost my right front fender, and from that point on, the balance was really compromised and the car wasn’t too nice to drive."

nyck de vries standing on track in new york with his race engineer

As a result, Nyck had to settle for an anonymous P13. Stoffel had similar bad luck in the race, retiring with another puncture after a collision: "Our strategy from the back was to save a lot of energy and then try to come through the field. We made some progress, and then I got stuck in a bit of a train. There was some bunching up, and we got another puncture there with the front left. That was basically the story of our day: two punctures which were very costly for the end result. Pretty much a day to forget for us."

Stoffel vandoorne getting in his mercedes-eq silver arrow 02

Tough race on Sunday

The team's prospects now rested on the second race on Sunday. But this time, too, their hopes were to be dashed. Nyck and Stoffel both started in the second qualifying group this time, but unfortunately this was the precise point in the proceedings when it started to drizzle. The disappointing outcome this time was a P20 for Stoffel and a P22 for Nyck.

"That was an extremely tough weekend," said Nyck in summary. "I think the underlying conclusion is that we weren't as competitive this weekend. At the same time, we may have had a bit of bad luck with the first group in Saturday's qualifying and the rain in Sunday's second qualifying that affected our group."

nyck de vries walking through the pitlane on new york

Stoffel also had the disadvantage of having to start the second race with two tyres he had already used in the first race due to his two punctures on Saturday: "All in all, we lacked a bit of grip, and when the field is so competitive and everyone is bunched up so tight, a used tyre is not ideal. We lacked a bit of pace and I was struggling with the right rear tyre, which was practically running out of rubber before the start."

Stoffel and Nyck fought their way through the field as best they could over the course of the 37-lap race, but were ultimately unable to finish any higher than 12th and 18th.

The championship remains open

Ian James summed up the mood in the camp after the Sunday event: "New York wasn't the weekend we were hoping for. It wasn't the weekend we needed or should have delivered either. Stepping onto the plane home tomorrow without having scored a single point this weekend is more than disappointing."

The New York weekend was not the first difficult situation the team has had to cope with this season. However, was the first track where the team failed to find the pace they know is in the car.

Ian James stainding in the pitlane with jean todt

"It's frustrating," adds Ian James. "But it's also an opportunity and challenge for the team to bounce back. And if there's one squad I trust to bounce back from this, it's this team, because it has that fighting spirit. We are already looking at the data right now and leaving no stone unturned to make sure we come back stronger."

The non-scoring weekend in New York City has turned the team from the hunted to the hunter in the team standings. After narrowly leading the championship going into the two rounds at Red Hook, Mercedes-EQ now occupy fifth place, 33 points behind Virgin Racing.

the wet pitlane at the new york city eprix

"However, we are determined and fully motivated to keep fighting for every available point for the rest of the season," said James. The team does not have much time before the next double-header on the calendar. Races twelve and thirteen of the season are already less than two weeks away in London on 24 and 25 July.

"There are only four races left to go," James calculates. "That's four chances at two venues that are both very close to our hearts - London and Berlin. And I'm confident we'll take them - the world championship is still very much open."

the nose of the mercedes-eq silver arrow 02

Other Articles.