It’s been long enough since Diriyah that you might have forgotten exactly what’s happened so far this season, so ahead of rounds three and four in Rome, here’s a quick recap of each team’s position.
We’ll run them down in championship order
Jaguar (Sam Bird and Mitch Evans)
It was a weirdly mixed bag for the team in Diriyah as their drivers took turns to either be on the podium (a third place in round one and a win in round two for Mitch and Sam respectively) or crash out of the race, both in tangles with Alex Lynn. But they’re leading the teams’ title and their driver lineup consists of the two previous winners in Rome so it can’t be going too badly for them, all things considered.
Mercedes-EQ (Stoffel Vandoorne and Nyck de Vries)
It’s a testament to just how much Nyck got out of Diriyah that Mercedes are second; he scored the perfect run on Friday by topping every practice session and then taking pole position and the race win, having led every lap. The Saturday was a mess for them, however, with Edoardo Mortara’s accident excluding all Mercedes-powered cars from qualifying and the team salvaging a measly two points out of the whole fiasco.
Envision Virgin (Nick Cassidy and Robin Frijns)
Virgin seemed to have fairly conservative aims for this season, at testing; last year had turned out badly for them, with luck running sour long before the Berlin superfinale and Sam Bird had departed the squad, prompting a rookie replacement. Cassidy struggled in Diriyah, as you’d expect given the poor bloke hasn’t been able to get to the factory for most of the time he’s been signed – so don’t consider that a demonstration of what he can do. But in terms of the car, Robin Frijns showed that Virgin are a real threat, moreso right now than the Audi factory team they beat with the same powertrain last year.
Dragon Penske (Nico Müller and Sergio Sette Cåmara)
“What” you might ask yourself “are Dragon Penske doing fourth in the championship?” Well, Sergio told us in Diriyah that the team had made big steps over the long break since Berlin, that although they were still using their old powertrain – which was uncompetitive last season – they had improved operationally and in their understanding of it. At the time, it seemed like he was making the best of a grim situation but if so, Dragon continued to manage that through the weekend to their best results for several entire seasons over a single weekend. It might not be replicable in Rome as the drivers no longer have a group four qualifying advantage but they’re clearly not the backmarkers they had been.
Audi Sport (Lucas di Grassi and René Rast()
Although this is actually an improvement on where they ended last season, Audi won’t have been happy with what they took away from Diriyah. It’s their last season as a factory team in the sport and Lucas di Grassi, in particular, wants to at the very least be fighting for another title. They’ve had hiccups at the start of a season before and the ability to come back with consistency is the team’s strength, a big advantage if they can manage it for this run of five races in six weeks.
A mixed bag in Diriyah; Edo got second place in the first race, where the Mercedes powertrain the team uses looked dominant. Then he had bizarre a crash in practice that excluded all Mercedes cars from qualifying and him from the second race, due to damage. Not a reflection of what Norman Nato can be expected to do, on a weird rookie weekend.
DS Techeetah (Antonio Felix da Costa and Jean-Éric Vergne)
Almost points-free in Diriyah is a story Techeetah has told before and it hasn’t stopped them taking both teams and drivers’ title for the past two seasons. Read nothing into their results so far; they have a new powertrain this weekend and will be doubtless coming back strong.
Ollie played an exquisite qualifying game in Diriyah, flawlessly making himself the final car to set a lap in his group. It’s mean but it’s how the game is played – and that’s Nissan e.dams. They had a scrappy time in the races but both drivers can clinically put together a lap – and a whole race – so don’t rule out the threat. Or go out the pit lane behind Rowland in your group session.
TAG Heuer Porsche (André Lotterer and Pascal Wehrlein)
Not a weekend to write home about in Diriyah but both Porsche’s drivers are in our list of who could take their first win here. Lotterer has always been there or thereabouts and took pole from Mitch Evans in season five, the last time we made it to Rome, before a battle to the end with the Jaguar in the race.
The 333 team will be happy with having bounced back from a truly torrid sixth season. It wasn’t anyone who patched them back together’s fault but they knew last year would be painful – they’re now looking in a much stronger position. It’s not likely they’ll be fighting for podiums but they have the chance to get points where there’s an opportunity and that will be a huge, positive boost for a team who’ve really been through it.
Mahindra (Alex Lynn and Alexander Sims)
Rome has never been especially kind to Mahindra but they have an all-new, all-Alex driver lineup and after what felt like a messy run of surely the entire bad luck for a season in Diriyah, they have a chance to come back here and build momentum to Valencia. Definitely never a team who’ve found themselves short of the will to try, even after a tricky weekend.
BMWi Andretti (Jake Dennis and Maximilian Guenther)
The less said about BMW’s Diriyah weekend the better. They’ll be hoping to effectively press reset on the whole season and start again, properly, now. It’s their last year, so every race counts from here on, even if Diriyah is put to the past as a horrible memory.