ROKiT Venturi Racing driver Mortara took victory during the final race of the season, the second of the double-header weekend in Seoul ahead of Stoffel Vandoorne and Jake Dennis with the Belgian driver having secured the Drivers’ World Championship title by 33 points ahead of Jaguar TCS Racing’s Mitch Evans. F1Technical’s Balázs Szabó reports on the final showdown of the Formula E season.
Season 8 of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship reached its climax in South Korea this weekend with the 2022 Hana Bank Seoul E-Prix. The newest circuit on the Formula E calendar is at Seoul's Olympic Park with the fast 2.6km, 22-turn track putting a big focus on managing raw, outright pace with efficiency and high ambient temperatures.
After winning yesterday’s penultimate round of the 2021/2022 FE season, Mitch Evans remained the only driver to have a slight chance to prevent Vandoorne from sealing the world championship title today. However, with carrying a disadvantage of 21 points into today's title-deciding race, the New-Zealender needed to win the race while the Belgian would have needed to finish the race ninth or lower.
Former Formula E champion Antonio Felix da Costa started the race from the pole position and managed to fend off the attacks of Edoardo Mortara and Jake Dennis after the start to hold his lead. Vandoorne tried to keep himself out of the usual first-lap chaos, clinging on to his fourth starting position.
On Lap 3, Mortara found his way past da Costa to take over the lead with Dennis also overtaking the Portuguese driver. Vandoorne also wanted to capitalize on the tussle between the front-runners, but he decided not to take big risks, holding his P4 spot instead.
With Mercedes and Venturi involved in the battle for the team title, there was big Teams’ World Championship drama in the middle of the race. First, Nyck De Vries was in strife on Lap 7, with the Mercedes-EQ driver getting into Porsche's Pascal Wehrlein – causing both race-ending damage. However, the battle was then decided in favour of Mercedes with Lap 13 seeing Venturi racer Lucas di Grassi forced into pitting to sort a front-right puncture.
There were 22 minutes plus one lap to go when the Safety Car was deployed to recover Maximilian Guenther’s stricken Nissan e.dams which looked to have something terminally broken on the front left corner. The Bruno Correia-driven car stayed on the track for a relatively long period of time with only 13 minutes plus one lap left on the clock when the field was released by FIA Race Drictor Scott Elkins.
The fierce battle at the front continued with da Costa remaining adamant to snatch P2 away from Dennis. The Portuguese driver used his second attack mode which provided him with an extra 30 kW of power. The pair got together at Turn 22 with da Costa ending up nose-first in the wall.
Although he could carry on, he dropped back to the back of the field. The Avalanche Andretti driver was later penalised to the tune of five seconds added to his race time for that move.
Although there were some fights at the back end of the field, with di Grassi and da Costa working their way up the field, there was no change at the front with Mortara having enough in hand to win by almost four seconds from Vandoorne. Showing expectional late speed, Dennis could build up a big enough gap to only lose a spot and finish third despite his five-second penalty.
Vandoorne’s second place was enough to secure the title by 33 points ahead of Jaguar TCS Racing’s Mitch Evans. ROKiT Venturi Racing’s Edoardo Mortara rounded off the podium places for the season. Although Nyck de Vries failed to reach the chequered flag due to a contact, Mercedes-EQ took the Teams’ title for the second season running ahead of ROKiT Venturi Racing and DS TECHEETAH.
Commenting on his race victory, Mortara said: "Today was extremely positive, I still feel extremely frustrated because we didn't manage to secure any points in the last two race weekends - I have so much frustration from that. But I am so thankful to the team for giving me such a strong car, we had a fantastic season and to finish like this is really what I needed and what we needed.
„We are normally better at racing than we are qualifiers, so I knew if I could manage to take the lead, we are normally pretty good at managing the races. From the front also helped us manage the temperatures, which were extremely hot. So yes, great day."
Vandoorne began his single-seater racing career in F4 Eurocup which he won in his debut year. In 2011, he stepped up to race in Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0, winning the series in the following season. He finished second in the GP2 series in his debut year in 2014 before he won Formula One’s main feeder series in the following season after taking seven victories.
2017 saw Vandoorne make his debut in Formula One with McLaren Honda, partnering two-time world champion Fernando Alonso. He continued to race for the Woking based outfit in the following season, but he scored only 16 points in both seasons apiece, failing to match Alonso’s speed in the team that endured its most difficult period in those years.
After racing in the FIA World Endurance Championship following his exit from Formula One, he joined the Mercedes-run HWA Racelab Formula E team in 2020. He stayed with the team last season when it became Mercedes’ works outfit, finishing ninth in the Drivers’ Championship before stealing the title this year.
After securing his first world championship title in motorsport, Vandoorne added: “World Champions; wow! It's just the best feeling ever. Just look at the season we've had - the consistency and the car has been amazing, and the team has done an incredible job. I think every single one of us deserves it. What we've accomplished is something special.
„Mitch has pushed me all the way along - the same with Edo - they were there all the time. It was really about the consistency in the end, they all have more wins than me, but I have the most podiums I think. It was difficult to focus because the pace at the end was so high, I knew Jake had a five-second penalty, so I had to stay close enough to him to secure P2.
„It was an awesome day, a lot of concentration. I am drained after this year, it has been a lot of effort, the effort I have put in and the team has put in - it is incredible."
Commenting his team’s success in the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes Formula E Team Principal Ian James said: „Congratulations to the team, congratulations to Stoffel and congratulations to Nyck. Everyone has played such a vital role in us winning the team title. When the Mercedes-Benz board made the decision to enter Formula E four years ago, we didn't know how it would turn out. Now we are sitting here and have won both World Championship titles for the second time in a row.
„This success we've had together in Formula E is just phenomenal. Congratulations to all the women and men at Brackley, Brixworth and Stuttgart. I have to admit, this is an emotional moment for me. Stoffel has done a fantastic job all year. He really deserves this title. But not only because of the title win, but also his development has been mega.
"The same goes for the team, everyone has been great. This achievement has only been possible because of the dedication and effort of all the team members in Brixworth, Brackley and Stuttgart,” James concluded.
Formula E is set to introduce its Gen3 car when the Season 9 begins next year. The provisional calendar is also expected to go through a significant expansion as it currently features 18 races in 13 cities. The season is set to begin on 14 January in Mexico City and continues in Diriyah, Hyderabad, São Paulo, Berlin, Monaco, Seoul, Jakarta, Rome and London. Three E-Prix host cities will be announced later this year, while Hyderabad and São Paulo are both debut venues.
Alongside the introduction of the Gen3 car and an even more colorful calendar, there are further changes to look forward in the ninth season of the fully-electric single-seater racing series. After two successful years in Formula E, Mercedes will leave the sport with McLaren Racing taking over its spot. Italian sportscar manufacturer Maserati will be making a return to motorsport for the first time in decades. ABT will also be returning to the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship.