ABB FIA Formula E World Championship Teams' standings leader Mercedes-EQ came away from the Rome double-header with an extra 28 points to the team's name thanks to Stoffel Vandoorne's points haul in both Round 3 (18 pts) and 4 (10 pts). Now on the brink of another wheel-to-wheel race on the iconic streets of Monaco, Vandoorne, his teammate Nyck de Vries and Team Principal Ian James stress the need for 'improvement' to maintain Mercedes' momentum.
With only nine points between leaders Mercedes-EQ and second placed team TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E, the three-pointed star outfit will need to claim another significant points haul on the streets of Monaco on Saturday, April 30 to not only advance its championship campaign but to maintain its place at the top of the standings.
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Despite a strong start to the season, reigning champion Nyck de Vries left Rome without a single point gained in the two races, hampering his second shot at the Drivers' championship. With that, it was down to seasoned Formula E driver Stoffel Vandoorne to save the day, who brought home no less than 28 points for the team across the weekend after a Pole, a podium and a fifth place finish.
“I’m really looking forward to driving in Monaco, as it’s a bit of a home race for both Nyck and me," said Vandoorne ahead of the race. "We’ve had a good run of points just lately and hope to continue in the same vein at the weekend and maybe even improve a little.”
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With the celebrations behind them, Mercedes' focus moves to Monaco - the greatest and most glamorous street race of them all. Taking on the full, 19-turn, 3.337 km traditional Monaco circuit, the Mercedes drivers will need to hold closest rivals Porsche and DS TECHEETAH at bay to maintain the momentum built in Rome. With DS' frontman and former double-champion Jean-Eric Vergne back at the top of the Drivers' standings, that could prove a challenge - especially as Vergne is a former Monaco victor in 2019.
"I expect this E-Prix to be very tricky once again in terms of energy management, but it is hard to predict," said Vandoorne. "Monaco’s track is iconic and it’s a very prestigious race where everyone will be keen to secure a good result, so I’m pretty certain that all drivers and teams will have big plans for this particular event."
As for his teammate, reigning champion de Vries will be desperate to make up for the ground he lost in Rome. Having slipped to eighth in the standings - 22 points behind leader Vergne - the Dutchman will need to improve his race pace if he's to defend his title and claim a second championship crown.
“The Rome weekend was tough on us, but we’ve got a bit of a home race this week in Monaco, so I’m really looking forward to being able to hit back there," said de Vries. "I’m really excited at the thought of contesting another E-Prix on the streets of the Principality. We’re already into the sixth race of the season which has picked up pace now, so here’s hoping that we can have a great event there with a decent result for the team.”
Last time out in Monaco, both drivers failed to finish the race, marking a particularly low moment for the Mercedes outfit. "We are seeking a bit of redemption after last year’s result – and I believe we are in a good place to realise that," said Team Principal Ian James ahead of the race. "So far this season, the team has been really good at addressing learnings and working effortlessly on implementing those to fight back to the front of the field.
"However, there are still – and always will be – improvement points and it is up to us as a collective to put all those elements together to achieve what we want to achieve: the best results possible. I, for one, am excited; roll on Monaco!”
Those 'improvement points' will no doubt translate as pressure for both Mercedes pilots as the championship starts to hot up towards the mid-season. After the pace and fortunes of the team dropped off following a sensational display of dominance in at the season opener in Saudi Arabia, James will be keen to rekindle the fine form that appears to have fallen by the wayside.