Mercedes-EQ's Stoffel Vandoorne mastered the streets of Monte Carlo with a tactical drive to win the 2022 Monaco E-Prix Round 6 and take the ABB FIA Formula E Drivers' World Championship lead. The Belgian beat polesitter Mitch Evans (Jaguar TCS Racing) to the top step, while DS TECHEETAH's Jean-Eric Vergne came home third.
Vandoorne emerged on the right side of a mid-race Full Course Yellow and Safety Car which threw race strategies up in the air - the Belgian besting Evans after a race-long battle with the help of some measured energy management.
Having started fourth, Vandoorne had hit the front after then-leader Pascal Wehrlein (TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team) retired from the lead with technical issues on Lap 16. Once at the head of the pack, Vandoorne seized control and made good on both restarts to take the chequered flag first with race pace and energy in-hand.
Evans couldn't quite capitalise on the searing pace that saw him fly to Julius Baer Pole Position but 18 points and second spot after a Rome win-double sees the Jaguar driver's hot-streak continue.
Vergne followed in third, sparring for the race distance with those ahead and fending off the late attentions of Envision Racing's Robin Frijns who came home fourth - the Dutchman extending his consistent run of form with the TAG Heuer Fastest Lap also under his belt. That made it a joint-high of three podiums 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 haul on home soil for ROKiT Venturi Racing - though Edo Mortara retired late on having run much of the race alongside 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 rounding out the top 10.
All that left Vandoorne six points clear atop the Drivers' standings, and Mercedes-EQ 15 points ahead of DS TECHEETAH in the Teams' running.
As it happened...
Evans held firm into Turn 1, leading Wehrlein and Vergne through the first tour as they were and the pack settled down into formation flying. The early priority looked to be energy management, with the Circuit de Monaco one of the fastest and most flowing on the calendar – meaning drivers were happy to bide their time for opportune moments to make progress without costing them undue usable energy.
Evans had looked to kept a hold on proceedings with eight laps down, content to control the pace and stick to the gameplan. That plan looked to be on rocky ground two laps later, with the Kiwi complaining over the radio to his engineer that Wehrlein and Vergne just behind were a percent to the good on the Jaguar’s usable energy.
Wehrlein began to pressure the leader on Lap 9, with the battle bunching the pack behind and bringing a gaggle of six or seven cars within touching distance as Vergne jumped for ATTACK MODE – the first of the lead group to do so - dropping him temporarily to fifth spot. On Lap 11, the Frenchman made a spot back with a slick move on di Grassi for fourth at the Nouvelle Chicane.
A lap later, Evans went for ATTACK MODE, handing Wehrlein the race lead and promoting Vergne to second spot but it wouldn’t do the German much good – so it appeared – as Evans was able to make it beyond the Porsche. Wehrlein forced his way back by the Jaguar, though, less than half a lap later and down at the chicane on the next tour, Vandoorne also made his way through to pinch third from Evans.
Meanwhile, under braking out of the tunnel and onto the harbourfront, Wehrlein measured a move around the outside of Vergne and went on the defensive – making top spot his own again.
Just as Wehrlein looked as if he had things under control, the Porsche appeared stricken – the left rear corner of the car damaged and Wehrlein all the way out of the running and the race, handing the lead back to Vergne with Vandoorne now second and Evans third.
A Full Course Yellow on Lap 16 was required to snatch Wehrlein’s Porsche, which found itself stuck at the exit of the tunnel. This cost leader Vergne dearly, with the DS driver diving for his second ATTACK MODE activation just prior. That would give leader Vandoorne and second-placed Evans a real breather and on the restart, the Silver Arrow 02 out front was able to draw out a three-second margin 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 for recovery. Where Vandoorne was the beneficiary during the FCY, this time he fell victim as he had just taken ATTACK MODE two – rendering the boost all but useless under Safety Car conditions while Evans still had one up his sleeve.
On the Green Flag, Vandoorne got away well and had the race win and the lead of the championship in his sights. In behind the Belgian, Evans, Vergne and di Grassi, da Costa in fifth and Mortara sixth still had an ATTACK MODE in-hand. Frijns, Guenther, Dennis and Cassidy continued to squabble for seventh, eighth, ninth and the final points-paying position in 10th – a longstanding back and forth between the quartet.
On Lap 22, Frijns was the big climber in ATTACK MODE – slicing by di Grassi at Beau Rivage and Evans in Casino Square as the Jaguar driver made for the activation loop for his second and final mandatory 13%, four-minute boost. Evans would make ground back, though, with that additional power; first jumping beyond Frijns and then Vergne at Turn 1 on Lap 24 – the Kiwi under two seconds back from race leader Vandoorne.
From there, Vandoorne controlled proceedings and looked to have both pace and usable energy in good supply over the Jaguar of Evans behind. The Belgian duly took the chequered flag, leading Evans home, with Vergne following third.
Published on 30th April 2022