Formula E End of Term Report Card: Venturi & Mahindra Racing
Venturi / Mahindra Racing © FIA Formula E
Venturi / Mahindra Racing © FIA Formula E

Formula E End of Term Report Card: Venturi & Mahindra Racing

In part five of our Formula E Season 6 driver ratings, we’re rating the drivers from VENTURI and MAHINDRA RACING

Make sure you also catch up on parts one, two, three and four featuring the top eight team from DS Techeetah all the way to newcomers Porsche.

  1. VENTURI

Edoardo Mortara🇨🇭
14th in the championship with 41 points
Grade: C+

One driver to experience a contrasting first and second half to their 2019-20 season was Venturi’s Edoardo Mortara. The Italian-Swiss driver showed notable pace on occasions last season (2018-19) but developed a frustrating habit of throwing points away through over-exuberant moves, and his inconsistency did little to help Venturi’s progression.

This time around, Mortara began the season as one of the more consistent drivers on the grid, qualifying in the top eight and scoring points in four of the opening five races including superb drives to fourth in Diriyah Race 2 and fifth in Marrakesh. Mortara’s strong qualifying pace laid the foundations for those results as he held the third best average starting position (7th) across the first five rounds, making it to superpole twice.

Berlin was a different story altogether and team principal Susie Wolff admitted she was “hugely disappointed” by the way the Venturi team’s results tailed off after the break – not that it was Mortara’s fault, however, as he’d been almost single handedly carrying the team up to that point.

Mortara remained Venturi’s most potent threat in light of Felipe Massa’s struggles and further points came his way through a brace of eighth places in the second and fifth Berlin races, with a hard fought point collected in the final one. Mortara’s qualifying pace though had faded from seventh before the break to 11th after it, and that made fighting for bigger points a much bigger ask.

In the end, 14th in the final standings will hardly satisfy Mortara given he was seventh at the mid-way point, but with seven top 10 results (as many as his previous two seasons combined) he did at least deliver a more consistent campaign even if the highs weren’t quite there as in previous seasons.

Overall, a respectable campaign that might have ended with more of a flourish but for the enforced mid-season pause that badly halted Venturi’s momentum.

Felipe Massa 🇧🇷
22nd in the championship with 3 points
Grade: D

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Despite a glittering F1 career, Massa’s failure to adapt to Formula E provides the clearest example yet of how little reputation counts for in this series, and it may encourage teams to invest more in younger drivers rather than having their heads turned by the lure of a ‘big name’ being stickered onto their race car.

Massa looked off the pace and uninterested for much of his second season, and his grumblings about being unable to race flat out, together with an unwillingness (or perhaps inability) to change his driving style, made it inevitable his stay in Formula E would be brief.

Susie Wolff said (a few days prior to the final Berlin doubleheader) that a decision on Massa’s future would be based on “whether he wants to continue or not”, but it’s likely Venturi might have found a way to move the Brazilian on regardless of that given how little he contributed this season.

Mortara beat Massa in pretty much every area statistically across the season. The 38 poins gap between them is one of the largest seen between team-mates across six seasons, but that’s hardly surprising given Massa secured just two top 10 results (compared to Mortara’s seven) and lost an average of 1.5 places each race from his starting position.

That last statistic – the 1.5 places lost on average each race – also suggests where his main weakness lay. Massa was often too wasteful with energy usage to be able to keep pace with his team-mate, and would often fade away badly in the second half of races while defending from drivers he ultimately wasn’t racing.

As nice a guy Massa is and how significantly he contributed to Formula E’s global media coverage (he was immensely popular with fans at almost every race), it’s the right thing for both he and Venturi to part ways. He’ll inevitably pop up somewhere else (in another series), but for now his brief time in Formula E is probably better best forgotten.

  1. MAHINDRA RACING

Jérôme d’Ambrosio 🇧🇪
16th in the championship with 19 points
Grade: C-

It’s tricky to rate the Mahindra drivers this season, as there were so many factors that contribute to their uncompetitiveness comparable to recent seasons. They moved facilities, brought their entire engineering team in-house, stopped using Campos to run their trackside operations, and were forced to switch to using their Season 5 powertrain post-Santiago following a series of issues.

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How then can we accurately rate the season Jerome d’Ambrosio had? Well, having six seasons worth of data on the Belgian certainly helps, and as always, team-mate benchmarks remain the most reliable yardstick we have so let’s start there.

The cold hard facts are that d’Ambrosio only narrowly outscored each of the two drivers that shared a half season in the other car which doesn’t look great. Prior to Berlin, d’Ambrosio had scored just three points (compared to 14 from Pascal Wehrlein) and in Berlin, Wehrlein’s substitute Alex Lynn equaled d’Ambrosio’s tally across those six races despite having just one full day’s worth of testing to prepare.

There were some highlights, including a fine drive to fifth in Berlin Race 1 as well as superpole appearances in both Diriyah rounds and again in each of the first two Berlin races, but the razor sharp racecraft that had been a trademark feature of d’Ambrosio’s previous seasons had been somewhat blunted due to Mahindra’s efficiency struggles.

D’Ambrosio will turn 35 in December, and with his departure from Mahindra now confirmed, his time in the series where he arguably made his name might now be at an end.

Alex Lynn 🇬🇧
17th in the championship with 16 points
Grade: B-

Alex Lynn told Inside Electric co-founder Hazel Southwell that being drafted in mid-season was “not a habit I want to get into”, but following his performances in Berlin, he might now be due an upgrade from his previous ‘super sub’ status.

With Mahindra needing a replacement for Wehrlein (who left the team during lockdown), Lynn’s opportunity to return to the grid came when a deal to sign Kiwi Nick Cassidy broke down at the last minute. Having raced previously with both Virgin and Jaguar, Lynn was seen as an experienced and safe pair of hands, but also “ticked all the boxes of a younger driver” according to team principal Dilbagh Gill.

In six races with Mahindra, Lynn scored only three points fewer (16) than team-mate d’Ambrosio achieved all season, and two more than Wehrlein (14) scored during his five races with the team earlier in the season. The standout statistic though that’s likely to have secured him a drive next season was to be found in his superb qualifying efforts in Berlin.

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With three superpole appearances and five top-seven starts, Lynn achieved the best average start position of ANY DRIVER to have raced in Formula E this season. Granted, he did have an advantage of sorts by qualifying from Group 1 in four of those, but credit where it’s due, finding the limit that quickly when entering any team part-way through a season is impressive.

Had it not been for Mahindra’s poor energy efficiency, Lynn might well have ended his six-race stint as the team’s leading scorer overall this season, but with points bagged in each of the final three races, he’ll head into the off-season brimming with confidence for what looks likely to be a full season with the team in 2021.

Pascal Wehrlein 🇩🇪
18th in the championship with 14 points
Grade: C

It’s now been six months since Pascal Wehrlein last raced in Formula E, so reviewing his season has been one of the more trickier ones. Wehrlein’s season was brief, but he did manage to make a notable impression during his truncated five-race season and comfortably outscored the more experienced d’Ambrosio during that time.

A disappointing start in Diriyah left Wehrlein pointless from the season-opening doubleheader after struggling in qualifying and picking up damage in race two. At the next race in Santiago, however, he had a much cleaner weekend and was able to qualify a superb third on the grid.

From there he ran second in the opening stages of the race after beating BMW’s Max Günther off the line, before battling with Mitch Evans and the DS Techeetah pair of Antonio Felix da Costa and Jean-Eric Vergne on his way to fourth place, narrowly missing the podium by just a few seconds.

Any hope he had of adding to his 12-point haul from Santiago were scuppered in Mexico City when forced to take a 40-place grid penalty for a powertrain change which, when applied, meant a mid-race drive-through penalty was enforced too.

Wehrlein had originally qualified third prior for the second successive race prior to his grid drop, but battled back superbly in the race, making up 15 places in the race from 24th to ninth – one place ahead of d’Ambrosio.

The next race in Marrakesh – which coincidentally ended up being the place where Wehrlein’s Mahindra career began and ended – was a bit of a nightmare. A mistake on his qualifying lap left him 15th on the grid, and after being hit in the race Wehrlein was forced to pit with a puncture which basically ended any chance of scoring points.

A bit of a messy, stop-start final five races then for Wehrlein at Mahindra, but enough pace was shown in flashes to convince Porsche to bet big on him for their own future in Formula E (and possibly WEC too). The ex-Manor and Sauber F1 driver remains one of the brightest talents on the grid and in the right circumstances he’ll thrive. Watch him push Andre Lotterer hard next season.

Coming up: Part 6 featuring Dragon Racing and NIO 333

Part 4: Jaguar Racing and Porsche
Part 3: BMW Andretti and Audi Sport
Part 2: Mercedes EQ and Envision Virgin
Part 1: DS Techeetah and Nissan e.dams

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Written by
Rob Watts
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