Here’s how the Belgian worked hard to win Monaco to lead the upcoming four-man title race.
It is fitting that the Principality of Monaco, known for its casinos, continues to host races that rival roulette tables. Of course, Formula E’s new qualifying format adds some methods to its madness, but it still requires a lot of luck when it comes to deciding the winner.
But the roulette table never seemed to be Stoffel Vandoorne’s calling. Instead, the Mercedes driver worked hard at the Monaco E-Prix weekend with a poker player’s calculated cunning. He knows his hands are fine. He doesn’t know the hands of the other players at the table, but as the game progresses, he proves to be more valuable. Those cards stayed in the Belgian’s sleeve, just flipped at the right time.
Vandoorne took the lead from fourth after Pascal Wehrlein retired with a mechanical problem, taking advantage of his strong pace in the clean air.
Mercedes dodged Evans, who was in attack mode for the final laps trying to chase Vandoorne. Jean-Eric Vergne retains third place for Techeetah.
At the start, pole position sitter Mitch Evans was ahead of second-placed Pascal Wherlein, followed by Jean-Eric Vergne, which was the first time the field took to the streets of Monte Carlo. Sam Bird lost seven places at the start, while Jake Dennis made up three.
The field was relatively orderly for the first ten minutes, with only Nick Cassidy coming out of the long line to become the first driver to enter attack mode from the back end of the field.
Antonio Felix da Costa took his first attack mode from 11th and used it to pass Oliver Rowland and Jake Dennis as they switched to attack mode the next lap. Further down the line, Bird pulled out of the race after reporting a malfunction with his Jaguar wishbone.
Up front, Evans was still in the lead, but Wehrlein started to put pressure on the leader and tried to half-heartedly look to the outside at the harbour chicane. Evans was able to block him and keep the lead.
Vergne was the first leader to switch to attack mode, dropping from third to sixth behind Lucas di Grassi and Robin Frijns. Vergne dashed past Frijns for fifth heading up the hill after Sainte Devote, then passed Di Grassi in the chicane half a lap later.
Evans finally started his first attack mode before half way through the race, ceding the lead to Wehrlein, who fell behind third-placed Vergne, while Stoffel Vandoorne and De Grassi did the same. A lap later, Wehrlein started his first attack mode, third behind Evans, giving Vergne the lead.
Although both Evans and Wehrlein had the advantage in attack mode, Porsche passed Jaguar into second and immediately began to press Vergne for the lead. Coming out of the tunnel, Wehrlein used his extra speed to put Vergne ahead of the race, while Vandoorne dropped Evans to fourth.
Suddenly, Wehrlein began to slow down as he approached the hairpin at the Fairmont Hotel, pulling to the edge of the track with Vergne leading. Vergne started his second attack mode the following lap, leaving Vandoorne in first position. But Wehrlein stopped at the tunnel exit, which resulted in a brief Full Course yellow when the Porsche was removed from the track.
After the restart, Oliver Rowland and Andre Lotterer collided at St. Devote, with both cars hitting the barrier, kicking Lotterer out of the race and forcing Rowland to leave the track too. The safety car was out, but Vandoorne took his second attack mode and managed to hold on to the race lead, his attack mode time elapsed as he sat behind the safety car.
The race resumed with less than ten minutes left in the regular race, with Vandoorne ahead of Evans and Vergne. Evans was the only driver in the top four who still opted for the second attack mode. He finally finished the race dropping to fourth behind Frijns.
Evans used his greater power to push Frijns to fourth, then did the same to Vergne a lap later for second. The Jaguar driver had just one minute in attack mode to try to catch Vandoorne in front but was unable to close the gap with the Mercedes in front.
Vandoorne managed to hold on to his advantage and used the extra race time to cross the finish line with less than 1 percent energy remaining and claim the checkered flag with a few seconds lead over Mitch Evans. With his victory, the Mercedes driver also secured his lead in the standings.
Jean-Eric Vergne finished third on the prestigious Monaco podium, ahead of fourth-placed Robin Frijns. Da Costa finished fifth for TECHEETAH, while Di Grassi finished sixth for local team Venturi. Nick Cassidy finished seventh for Envision, while Sebastian Buemi moved up from the back of the grid to eighth.
Jake Dennis and Nyck de Vries were ninth and tenth, respectively.
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