After nine rounds, Jean-Éric Vergne became the first driver to win two races in the 2018-19 FIA Formula E Championship, taking a narrow win in the Monaco ePrix.
Having been the second-fastest qualifier in Super Pole, Vergne inherited pole position when Oliver Rowland served a three grid position penalty carried over from the last event in Paris. Starting alongside Pascal Wehrlein, Vergne led away from the start and was not headed, but was challenged throughout the race by a chasing group of three cars.
Initially, it was Wehrlein at the head of the chasing pack with Rowland and Felipe Massa close behind, however Wehrlein ran wide at Sainte Devote on Lap 9, dropping to fourth. The top four would remain in this order – Vergne, Rowland, Massa and Wehrlein – for the balance of the race, although after Vergne’s lead crept out to a couple of seconds mid-race, Rowland closed in as the clock counted down. The Brit pressured to make a pass during the dying laps, but Vergne held his nerve and repelled the attacks, taking his second victory of the year by just 0.201 seconds.
A further second back, Massa held on for his first Formula E podium in his Venturi team’s home race – but only just – as Wehrlein ended the race just 0.178 seconds behind when Massa exhausted his car’s energy metres from the finish line.
Touted as ‘Electric Mr Monaco’ before the event having won both previous races from pole, Sébastien Buemi finished in fifth place. It was a rather quiet ePrix for the Swiss driver, who initially battled with Massa in the opening laps before falling back to end the race almost five seconds behind the lead pack, but well clear of those behind him.
Speaking post-race, Vergne described winning on the streets of Monaco as a dream come true: “As a driver, it’s always the place you dream to be. I’ve never had a podium here in Monaco, I remember all the legends that have been on this podium and all the hard times I had in Formula One, so to be here today feels very special to me.”
In celebrating his second Formula E podium – and third pole position – in his rookie season, Rowland paid tribute to his Nissan e.Dams teammate Buemi, the former champion having helped the Brit adapt to the series: “It’s quite a lot of pressure to keep coming and performing. I’ve got a lot of respect for my teammate, he’s taught be an awful lot. We push each other on. At the start of the season I was nowhere near him, but then I made a big step because I learnt from him.”
Massa’s third place is not only a breakthrough for the Brazilian, but also a result of real meaning for Venturi: “I remember passing by the grandstands during the race and hearing my kids shout for me – it was incredible. At the end of the podium, Gildo Pastor, our team boss, was crying and thanking me for doing this for us here in Monaco. After everything that he’s been through, I think this kind of thing gives even more. It brings a great deal of happiness to all of us in the team.”
Behind the top five, things were quite a bit messier. António Félix da Costa initially crossed the line in sixth, however was excluded from the results post-race after being found to have been running in a higher than permitted power mode. Da Costa argued that the power mode dial on his BMW i Andretti’s steering wheel had been bumped in a late race incident with Mitch Evans, and that the power mode was turned down again once realised by the driver and team – a full lap after the incident – but the stewards of the meeting believed there was still a breach of the rules and applied the exclusion.
The incident between da Costa and Evans also accounted for Sam Bird. Evans’ car hit Bird, causing a puncture in the Envision Virgin Racing driver’s car, which stopped at La Rascasse with a lap to run. While still classified in the results, Bird lost what had looked like a strong sixth place finish.
An eighth place finish for Daniel Abt was also lost due to a post-race penalty, when a 33 second time penalty (the equivalent of a drive through penalty) was handed down for making contact with NIO’s Oliver Turvey. The damage inflicted caused Turvey to retire from the race, while Abt dropped to 15th in the final standings once the penalty was applied.
A third post-race penalty was also announced, with Robin Frijns to take a five grid place demotion for the next event in Berlin. The Dutchman was found to have been the cause of a crash between he and Alexander Sims at Sainte Devote, with Frijns retiring on the spot and Sims continuing for an eventual 13th place finish.
Sims would later receive his own five-place grid place penalty for Berlin, as a result of turning Lucas di Grassi into the barriers at Turn 3 late in the race. While di Grassi tried to limp his damaged Audi back to the pits, ultimately it was too big an ask and he retired when his car stopped in the Swimming Pool complex.
With all the penalties applied, Evans finished the race in sixth ahead of André Lotterer – who had driven through the field after starting from the back of the grid – and Jaguar’s Alex Lynn. The top ten was rounded out by Stoffel Vandoorne and José María López, while Championship contender Jérôme d’Ambrosio was just outside the points in eleventh.
With the championship standings so tight, it comes a no surprise that Vergne’s victory promotes the reigning champion to the top of the order on 87 points, with teammate Lotterer just a single point behind in second. By failing to finish, Frijns (81 points) falls from the lead to third place. Within 28 points from the lead (the maximum possible points haul in a single race meeting) are nine drivers, with da Costa, di Grassi, Evans, d’Ambrosio, Rowland and Abt all included, while Bird, Edoardo Mortara and Wehrlein in tenth, eleventh and twelfth are grouped within a further eight points. With four races still to run the battle for the title is still wide open.
With its drivers now in the top two positions of the Drivers Championship standings, DS Techeetah (173 points) is beginning to grow a lead at the head of the Teams’ Championship, as the Chinese-owned team look to go one better than last season’s second place finish. Despite failing to score any points in Monaco, Envision Virgin Racing sit 38 points behind in second while Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler sit a further six points back in third place.
The tenth round of the 2018/19 Formula E Championship is scheduled for Saturday, May 25 at Berlin’s historic Tempelhof Airport.
|2019 ABB Formula E Monaco ePrix – Final Classification|
|Driver||Team / Entry||Laps||Result||Pts|
|1.||Jean-Éric Vergne||DS Techeetah||51||46:05.547||25|
|2.||Oliver Rowland||Nissan e.dams||51||+ 0.201||21|
|3.||Felipe Massa||Venturi Formula E Team||51||+ 1.261||15|
|4.||Pascal Wehrlein||Mahindra Racing||51||+ 1.439||13|
|5.||Sébastien Buemi||Nissan e.dams||51||+ 6.215||10|
|6.||Mitch Evans||Panasonic Jaguar Racing||51||+ 16.213||8|
|7.||André Lotterer||DS Techeetah||51||+ 16.848||6|
|8.||Alex Lynn||Panasonic Jaguar Racing||51||+ 18.112||4|
|9.||Stoffel Vandoorne||HWA Racelab||51||+ 18.551||2|
|10.||José María López||Geox Dragon Racing||51||+ 18.860||1|
|11.||Jérôme d’Ambrosio||Mahindra Racing||51||+ 21.488|
|12.||Gary Paffett||HWA Racelab||51||+ 21.853|
|13.||Alexander Sims||BMW i Andretti Motorsport||51||+ 26.934|
|14.||Tom Dillmann||NIO Formula E Team||51||+ 31.861|
|15.||Daniel Abt||Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler||51||+ 49.400|
|16.||Sam Bird||Envision Virgin Racing||50||Puncture|
|17.||Robin Frijns||Envision Virgin Racing||46||Collision|
|Not Classified||Team / Entry||Laps||Reason|
|DNF.||Oliver Turvey||NIO Formula E Team||32||Collision|
|DNF.||Lucas di Grassi||Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler||31||Collision|
|DNF.||Edoardo Mortara||Venturi Formula E Team||29||Mechanical|
|DNF.||Maximilian Günther||Geox Dragon Racing||29||Accident|
|DSQ.||António Félix da Costa||BMW i Andretti Motorsport||51||Power Use|
Post Race Penalties:
- António Félix da Costa – who was provisionally classified in 6th – was disqualified for exceeding power usage over 200 kW.
- Daniel Abt – who was provisionally classified in 7th – was issued a 33-second post-race time penalty for causing a collision.
- Alexander Sims will serve a five-place grid penalty at the Berlin ePrix for causing an avoidable collision with Lucas di Grassi.
- Robin Frijns will serve a five-place grid penalty at the Berlin ePrix for causing an avoidable collision with Alexander Sims.
- Championship points are awarded on the results of the ePrix to the top-ten finishers on a 25-18-15-12-10-8-6-4-2-1 sliding scale.
- Oliver Rowland earned 3 bonus championship points for securing the Julius Baer pole position.
- The fastest lap posted by a top-10 finisher was by Jean-Éric Vergne, who earns the bonus championship point.
Images via ABB FIA Formula E Championship