Mercedes-EQ driver Stoffel Vandoorne van mastered the streets of Monte Carlo with a tactical drive to win the 2022 Monaco E-Prix Round 6 and take the lead of the ABB FIA Formula E Drivers’ World Championship.
The Belgian beat polesitter Mitch Evans (Jaguar TCS Racing) to the top step, while Jean-Eric Vergne of DS TECHEETAH took third.
Vandoorne appeared to the right of a Full Course Yellow and Safety Car halfway through the race that negates race strategies, the Belgian defeated Evans after a race-long battle using measured power management.
Vandoorne had come forward after then-leader Pascal Wehrlein (TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team) left the lead on lap 16 with technical difficulties.
Evans couldn’t take full advantage of the scorching pace at which he flew to Julius Baer Pole Position, but 18 points and second place after a win in Rome ensure the Jaguar driver’s hot streak continues.
Vergne followed in third, sparring for race distance with those ahead and fending off the belated attentions of Envision Racing’s Robin Frijns, who came home fourth – the Dutchman who continued his consistent streak of form. That made it a joint-high of three podium finishes for Frenchman Vergne and he remains the only driver to score points in every race this season.
Antonio Felix da Costa made it two DS TECHEETAHs in the top five, with Lucas di Grassi coming home sixth for a solid ride on home soil for ROKiT Venturi Racing – although Edo Mortara retired late after spending much of the race next to his teammate in the points.
Nick Cassidy (Envision Racing) finished seventh, with Sebastien Buemi (Nissan e.dams), Jake Dennis (Avalanche Andretti) and reigning champion Nyck de Vries around the top 10.
All this put Vandoorne six points ahead of the drivers’ standings, and Mercedes-EQ 15 points ahead of DS TECHEETAH in the teams’ standings.
As it happened…
Evans held his own in the first corner and led Wehrlein and Vergne through the first tour as they were and the pack went flying in formation. The first priority seemed to be energy management, with the Circuit de Monaco one of the fastest and smoothest on the calendar – meaning drivers liked to bid their time for opportune moments to make progress without costing them unnecessary usable energy.
Evans had been looking forward to sticking with proceedings eight laps down, content to control the pace and stick to the game plan. That plan appeared to be on rocky ground two laps later, as the Kiwi radioed to his engineer complaining that Wehrlein and Vergne were just behind one percent of the Jaguar’s usable energy.
Wehrlein began to pressure the leader on lap 9, with the battle gathering the pack behind him and putting a set of six or seven cars within reach as Vergne jumped into ATTACK MODE – the first of the breakaway to do so – temporarily sending him to fifth place. On lap 11, the Frenchman made a spot back with a slick move on Di Grassi for fourth in the Nouvelle Chicane.
One lap later, Evans went for ATTACK MODE, giving Wehrlein the lead in the race and promoting Vergne to second, but it wouldn’t do the German much good – it seemed – as Evans was able to get past the Porsche . Wehrlein forced his way back through the Jaguar, but less than half a lap later and in the chicane of the next tour, Vandoorne also came through to take third from Evans.
Meanwhile, while braking out of the tunnel and onto the harbor front, Wehrlein measured a movement around the outside of Vergne and went on the defensive – reclaiming first place.
Just as Wehrlein looked as if he had things under control, the Porsche looked affected – the rear left corner of the car damaged and Wehrlein completely out of the running and the race, returning the lead to Vergne with Vandoorne now second and Evans third.
A Full Course Yellow on lap 16 was needed to grab Wehrlein’s Porsche, which got stuck at the exit of the tunnel. This one will cost leader Vergne dearly, with the DS driver diving just before it for his second ATTACK MODE activation. That would give leader Vandoorne and second-placed Evans a real breather and on the restart the Silver Arrow 02 was able to pull a three second margin up front to take full control of the race.
Two laps later, Mahindra Racing’s Oliver Rowland forced Porsche’s Lotterer into the wall at Sainte Devote, requiring a Safety Car to recover. Where Vandoorne was the beneficiary during the FCY, this time he fell victim to having just taken ATTACK MODE two – rendering the boost virtually useless under Safety Car conditions, while Evans had another one up his sleeve.
At the Green Flag Vandoorne had a good start and had the victory and the lead in the championship in his sights. Behind the Belgian, Evans, Vergne and di Grassi, da Costa in fifth and Mortara in sixth still had an ATTACK MODE in hand. Frijns, Guenther, Dennis and Cassidy continued to bicker for seventh, eighth, ninth and the final points-paying position in 10th – a lengthy back and forth between the quartet.
On lap 22, Frijns was the big climber in ATTACK MODE – cutting through di Grassi in Beau Rivage and Evans in Casino Square as the Jaguar driver made the activation loop for his second and final mandatory 13%, four-minute boost. However, Evans would gain ground with that extra power; first past Frijns and then Vergne at Turn 1 on Lap 24 – the Kiwi less than two seconds back from race leader Vandoorne.
From there, Vandoorne controlled the proceedings and appeared to have both pace and usable energy in good supply over Evans’ Jaguar behind him. The Belgian duly took the checkered flag and led Evans home, with Vergne in third.
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