Stoffel Vandoorne claimed his first E-Prix win of the season in Monaco, beating Jaguar racer Mitch Evans and Techeetah driver Jean-Eric Vergne. Mercedes’ Belgian driver has moved to top of the Drivers’ standings with his team also jumping to the top of the Teams' championship. F1Technical's Balázs Szabó reports on Round 6 of the 2021/2022 ABB FIA Formula E World Championship.
After scoring a double victory in Rome just a few weeks ago, Jaguar racer Mitch Evans dictated the pace in today’s qualifying session again, beating the Porsche of Pascal Wehrlein to snatch pole position.
When the lights went out, the Kiwi held the lead into Turn 1 with the pack settling down into formation flying in the first laps. The field was eager to save energy in the early part of the race with the drivers deciding against any overtaking moves.
Nick Cassidy was the first to activate the attack mode. Race engineers were eager to discover the effect of the power boost around the tight confines of the Principality. It quickly became obvious that the effect was significantly less than it was in Rome as the extra power was only helpful through the tunnel and on the start-finish straight.
With 30 minutes left, drivers started to go though the activation zone with Robin Frijns, Antonio Felix da Costa, Oliver Rowland, Jake Dennis and Oliver Askew all opting for the attack mode.
When race leader Evans also went for the attack mode, Wehrlein took over the lead with Vergne also overtaking the Kiwi. However, the Jaguar racer quickly regained the second place when the German activated his first attack mode on the following lap. This left the two-time Formula E champion Vergne take over the lead from Evans.
However, the two-time Rome Formula E winner could not hold up Wehlein, who sliced through to P2 before overtaking Vergne for the lead as well. On the same lap, Evans also lost a position to Vandoorne, who found himself in P3 with very decent energy management.
With 18 minutes left on the clock, race leader Vergne activated his second attack mode, handing over the lead to Vandoorne. On the same lap, Wehlein’s Porsche came to a halt, which triggered a full course yellow period, meaning that Vergne could not make any benefit from the power boost.
It left Vandoorne in the lead with Evans lying in second and Vergne finding himself in third.
On Lap 18, Mahindra’s Oliver Rowland and Porsche’s Andre Lotterer came together at Sainte Devote with the German crashing into the wall. The incident required a Safety Car for recovery as Rowland also came to a halt as a result of the get-together.
Vandoorne had just activated his attack mode before Bruno Correia headed onto the streets of Monaco, meaning that he could not use his extra power. When the action restarted, Vandoorne led comfortably from Evans, who still had an attack mode to use in the closing stages of the race.
Robin Frijns also had his extra power mode at his disposal. The Dutchman decided on Lap 22 to activate his attack mode and managed to overtake Lucas di Grassi at Beau Rivage with the help of the power boost, jumping to P4.
With only a few minutes remaining, Evans decided to go through the activation loop to use his second four-minute power boost. The Kiwi lost two positions as both Vergne and Frijns managed to overtake him.
Evans did not hesitate to make good use of his power boost, regaining the two positions lost while activating his final mandatory attack mode. He first overtook Frijns before going past Vergne at Turn 1 as well.
While Evans made his way back to P2, Vandoorne was able to build up a lead of two seconds which allowed him to control the rest of the race. Race Director Scot Elkins decided to extend the race time to compensate for the Safety Car, but it did not prevent Vandoorne from crossing the finish line first, leading Evans home, with Vergne following third.
All that left Vandoorne six points clear atop the Drivers' standings, and Mercedes-EQ 15 points ahead of DS TECHEETAH in the Teams' running.
Commenting on his first Formula E win in Monaco, Vandoorne said: "It is an amazing feeling, I mean Monaco is always a special race to win as a driver. Last year we had a tough time here, this year we managed to turn it around.
„The target was to qualify at the front and then I knew we would be in the mix, and that is exactly how the race panned out. We were flying today, massive well done to the team for giving me a strong car. It has not been an easy start to the season, but it shows the consistency we have. I am extremely happy.
"I feel like I have been fighting at the front all season already, I have had a few pole positions and have not quite been able to convert them into victories. This weekend I decided not to qualify on pole and get the victory instead."
Second placed Evans commented: "It was a confusing race because I felt we were looking really good on the energy, obviously off the back of Rome but also approaching the race. We thought we were pretty conservative, so were not expecting to use much energy, but it was the complete opposite.
„This is something to look into, maybe we just got things a bit wrong today - but we were quite lucky to get second, so I will take that. I really wanted to win today off the back of pole and the wins for us at the last race, but Stoffel and the other guys were really quick. So I will take these good points and move on for the next race."
Third placed driver Verge added: "It was a good race but I was unlucky on the second attack mode, I had a struggle with full course yellow so it was a waste. Obviously I would rather fight for the win today but I am going to take those points. I’ll keep pushing hard, I’ll keep hard working and move forward.”