Jaguar Racing’s Mitch Evans managed to fend off the attacks from Jean-Eric Vergne and Edoardo Mortara to claim his third victory of the season in the searing heat of Jakarta. Championship leader Stoffel Vandoorne ended up fifth which was enough for him to hold on to the championship lead. F1Technical's Balázs Szabó reports on Round 9 of the 2021/2022 Formula E season.
As the FIA Formula E World Championship made the long trip from Germany to Indonesia for the inaugural Jakarta E-Prix, drivers needed to fight against searing ambient and track temperatures at the Jakarta E-Prix International Circuit in the exotic Ancol Beach resort.
The inaugural Formula E race has been attended by President of Indonesia Joko Widodo and Governor of Jakarta Anies Baswedan while the grandstand seating was packed with thousands of spectators with more than 60,000 fans in total attending the Jakarta E-Prix and the festival in Ancol.
The 2.37km, 18-turn circuit proved to be a real challenge with its wide, flowing sections. The circuit kicks off with a tight opening sector after a long run down the start/finish straight before a series of fast, long straights and natural high speed corners. The final sector is a tricky complex following a fast right hander at the cambered Turn 12 and another long straight into Turn 13 hairpin come the race. Another banked corner at T16 comes before a tricky left-hander at Turn 18 which rounds out the lap with a strong slingshot down the long home straight.
Double champion Vergen snatched the pole position in a nail-biting qualifying session with his team mate Antonio Felix da Costa grabbing P2. When the lights went green, Mitch Evans got away perfectly from the line, but the Techeetah pair managed to hold on to the lead into the first corner.
There was huge battle on the first lap behind the leading drivers with Andre Lotterer executing a bold move on Berlin race winner Nyck de Vries for P9. At the back end of the field, Sergio Sette Camara touched the rear of his team mate’s car, sending Antonio Giovinazzi into a spin.
Drivers hardly had any time to calm down after the hectic opening lap as the Safety Car was deployed just after a single lap. Bruno Correia needed to roll out with the Porsche Taycan on to the Jakarta race track to give the marshalls time to deal with Oliver Rowland’s stricken Mahindra Racing car after the Briton lost a wheel.
When the race resumed, da Costa made a mistake which allowed Evans to go through. Race leader Vergne decided very early on to activate his first four-minute attack mode that provides drivers with 13 per cent power boost. His team mate followed him with Jake Dennis, Lucas di Grassi, Nyck de Vries and Nick Cassidy also joining the Techeetah duo as engineers wanted to maximize the gain from the attack mode when batteries were a bit cooler than later in the race.
Evans also activated his own power boost which saw him drop behind Mortara to P3. The next minutes saw drivers look after the battery and tyre temperatures in the heat of Jakarta.
With 24 minutes to go, Vergne decided to use his second four-minute power boost. As a result of it, the Frenchman lost the lead, but was able to regain it, overtaking Evans on the start-finish straight.
The Kiwi waited a further ten minutes to use his second 30kW boost and when he did it, he rejoined the action with a significant gap separating him and the race leader Vergne. In the meantime, the winner of the first Berlin race Mortara got past da Costa, improving to P3.
On Lap 30, a contact with Lotterer saw de Vries suffer a left-rear puncture – the Mercedes-EQ driver forced to retire from the race.
Lap 31 saw Evans execute an opportunistic move on leader Vergne at Turn 7 with the New-Zealander getting the pass done on the brakes. In the meantime, Mortara managed to close in on the leading duo while a fierce battle formed between da Costa and Vandoorne.
Although Vergne appeared to have the least amount of energy of the leading trio in the closing stages of the race, the Frenchman was eager to overtake Evans on the last lap. The Paris-born tried multiple overtaking moves as the race approached its final stage, but he was unable to regain the lead, enabling Evans to win the inaugural Jakarta E-Prix.
Vergne came in second with Mortara taking P3. Da Costa managed to fend off Vandoorne with Dennis taking sixth for the Avanlanche Andretti team ahead of Lucas di Grassi and Pascal Wehrlein. Sam Bird finished in P9 in the other Jaguar with Nissan’s Sebastian Buemi rounding out the top ten in Indonesia.
Evans commented: „That was hard. I was just happy to be in it at the end. We had a tough last race, and this track was similar with the climate being on another level. We put a lot of work into the set-up and the systems, but the team gave me what I need, gave me the goods.
"It was really tight at the end with JEV, I thought I was going to pull away but my tires started going off as soon as I got past him. I was under a bit of heat but we got the job done. This is what we needed.
"We needed a good result today. But obviously it was a new track, new climate, new everything - you don't really know how it is going to go. So I am very happy with the result, we are back in it although we were never really out, but it has put us in a strong position so I'll take that,” the Kiwi concluded.
Vandoorne continues to lead the Drivers’ standings, but the gap has shrunk as his closest rivals all finished on the podium. The top four are now split by just 12 points with Vergne five points back from the Belgian, Mortara two shy of the Frenchman in third and Evans another five back in fourth.
Mercedes-EQ still sit atop the Teams' running on 186 points, 16 ahead of DS TECHEETAH which climbs above ROKiT Venturi Racing in the points table.
Next stop for Round 10 in the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship is the Marrakesh E-Prix on Saturday 2 July.