© FIA Formula E

Jerome d’Ambrosio takes Mexico City ePrix pole for Dragon

Leave a comment

Jerome d’Ambrosio will start Saturday’s Mexico City ePrix from pole position after producing a stunning final lap in qualifying at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.

D’Ambrosio claimed his first Formula E pole in Punta del Este two races ago, and his second came in similar circumstances as he perfected an ‘all or nothing’ lap to leave his rivals without answer.

After finishing fourth in the main qualifying standings, d’Ambrosio posted a time of 1:03.705 in the Super Pole session to take provisional pole from Daniel Abt.

Neither Lucas di Grassi nor Nicolas Prost could beat d’Ambrosio’s time despite having quicker cars, leaving championship leader Sebastien Buemi as the only driver who could deny the Belgian pole.

Buemi went faster in the first sector, only to make an error for the third qualifying session in a row that meant he could only finish fifth, handing pole to d’Ambrosio.

“I think it’s unexpected in the sense that we knew we were going to try for the top five – it’s the same thing as Punta,” d’Ambrosio said.

“I went to Jay [Penske] and said ‘I think we’re going to be P4 and P5 because the ultimate speed is around there, but you’re OK if I go full on and take all the risks?’.

“He said ‘do what you’ve got to do, but keep it in one piece’. I said I’d try! I went for it, and it worked out. Now there’s a race to do, but it’s another couple of points. I’m happy for everyone in the team.”

Jean-Eric Vergne narrowly missed out on a place in the Super Pole shootout, finishing sixth ahead of Antonio Felix da Costa and Loic Duval. Nick Heidfeld and Stephane Sarrazin rounded out the top 10.

Defending champion Nelson Piquet Jr. saw his ailing title defence take another hit as he crashed heavily at the first corner on his fast lap, breaking the TecPro barrier in two. Thankfully, he walked away unaided from the shunt, although the same could not be said of his car, leaving the NEXTEV TCR team with a big repair job ahead of the race.

The Mexico City ePrix begins at 5pm ET on Saturday.

James Hinchcliffe on Andretti: ‘It’s certainly the place I want to be’

Leave a comment

Since before the start of the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series season, James Hinchcliffe tirelessly has worked to ensure the future would include a full-time return in 2021.

And with an opportunity to run the final three races this season with Andretti Autosport, there seems a surefire (albeit unlikely) path.

“If I go out and win all three,” Hinchcliffe joked with IndyCar on NBC announcer Leigh Diffey in an interview Friday (watch the video above), “it would be hard for them to say no, right?”

Regardless of whether he can go unbeaten at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course next weekend or the Oct. 25 season finale at St. Petersburg, Florida (where he earned his first career win in 2013), Hinchcliffe will have the chance to improve his stock with the team that he knows well and now has an opening among its five cars for 2021.

All three of Hinchcliffe’s starts this season — the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, July 4 at the IMS road course and the Indianapolis 500 — were with Andretti, where he ran full time in IndyCar from 2012-14.

“Obviously, the plan from January 2020 was already working on ’21 and trying to be in a full-time program,” he said. “I’ve really enjoyed being reunited with Andretti Autosport, and everybody there has been so supportive. It’s been a very fun year for me on track. It’s been kind of a breath of fresh air in a lot of ways.

“It’s certainly the place I want to be moving forward. We’ve been working on that, working on those conversations. Genesys has been an incredible partner in my three races. We’ll be representing Gainbridge primarily, but Genesys will still have a position on our car in the last three.”

Gainbridge is the primary sponsor of the No. 26 Dallara-Honda that was vacated by Zach Veach, who left the team after it was determined he wouldn’t return in 2021. Hinchcliffe can empathize having lost his ride with Arrow McLaren SP after last season with a year left on his deal.

“You never want to earn a ride at the expense of somebody else in the sense that has happened here with Zach,” Hinchcliffe said. “I feel bad that he’s not able to see out the last three races of his season. I’ve got a lot of respect for him off track. He’s been a teammate this year, a colleague for years before that and honestly a friend for years before that. I’ve got a lot of time for him and his family. I understand a little bit of what it’s like in that position and what he’s going through.”

Hinchcliffe is ready to seize the moment, though, starting with the Oct. 2-3 doubleheader race weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He had been hoping to add the Harvest Indy Grand Prix to his schedule and had been working out for the possibility.

“Then last week I had given up hope (and) was resigned that wasn’t happening,” he said. “I told my trainer, ‘I think we’re done for this year.’ Three days later, this call comes. I’m glad we didn’t make that decision too early. I feel great physically.

“I look at it as a great opportunity to continue to show I’ve still got what it takes and should be there hopefully full time next year on the grid.”

Watch Hinchliffe’s video with Leigh Diffey above or by clicking here.