How D'Ambrosio and Dragon slayed Formula E's big boys

Dragon Racing against-odds performance in the Mexico ePrix has been somewhat overshadowed by the post-race dramatics. Sam Smith puts the spotlight back on the American team.

After all the drama around the embarrassing post-race exclusion of Lucas di Grassi and, more pertinently, the Abt Schaeffler Audi Sport team, it could be easy for the stellar job that Dragon Racing did last weekend in Mexico City to fade from memory

But, as thin as the air in Mexico is, there was no doubting that Jerome d’Ambrosio and the Dragon Racing crew were standing tall and breathing easily. They hugely deserved their place at the top of the pile, by default or not.

In the Dragon Racing garage two and a half hours after the race, a tray of dangerous-looking red-topped beverages were laid out for the mechanics to enjoy after their heroic efforts.

Next door the Abt Schaeffler Audi Sport was almost deserted, only a tray of champagne flutes remaining while most of the team was up at the FIA weighing area.

There had been a similar scene in Berlin last season where the German team effectively lost the title. Jump forward ten months and another bombshell was dropped in Mexico, leaving the Abt boys gulping the thin air in shock.

And somewhere in downtown Mexico City, Lucas di Grassi must have been completely incredulous that this happened again.

Giant-killing

Back at Dragon there were no whoops of delight. Just like Berlin, they had won the race but, perhaps, not in the way they had wished to. Still, in many eyes, they were completely deserving of the maximum points score at the end of a dramatic day.

Dragon’s Nigel Beresford has seen more than most in racing. After a career that has taken in four decades and stints at Tyrrell and Penske among others, he is perhaps the best gauge in the Formula E paddock of just how the land lies.

“Jerome and the whole team were magnificent all weekend and he did a brilliant job holding off Renault and Abt cars which, let’s face it, have spent a load of money on their season two powertrains and have more resources at their disposal,” said Bereford.

“Formula E is a new concept but some parts of it are quite traditional too. It is all about putting the fastest car on the track still.

"If you have oversteer, you still soften the rear anti-roll bar or stiffen the front anti-roll bar and you still have to do a perfect pit stop. It’s all about doing a better job than anyone else and that hasn’t changed in racing since I first started.”

Doing a better job than most satisfies Beresford and Dragon. While Renault e.dams and the Abt team continue to make major mistakes, the American team quietly makes plans to deliver their next series of punches, which are deployed well above their weight.

It was fitting that d’Ambrosio told Motorsport.com immediately after the race: “I have nothing left in me, I gave everything I could.”

As a clear a case as any, that driver and team are perfectly suited to each other.

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About this article
Series Formula E
Event Mexico ePrix
Track Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez
Drivers Jérôme d'Ambrosio
Teams Dragon Racing
Article type Special feature