Jean-Eric Vergne's incident-free victory in the Monaco E-Prix puts him on top of the championship leaderboard while Felipe Massa secures his first podium finish of the season.
After producing eight different race winners from its eight previous rounds, the ABB FIA Formula E championship witnessed something much familiar in its ninth round, the Monaco E-Prix. Reigning champion Jean-Eric Vergne (DS Techeetah), who until now had just one victory (in the Sanya E-Prix) under his belt got hold of his second today as he ran a flawless Monaco E-Prix.
Despite conceding the pole position on Friday to Oliver Rowland (Nissan e.dams), Vergne started the race from pole today as Rowland's three-place grid penalty from the previous round came into effect. However, Rowland remained determined throughout the proceedings as he managed to finish second, close behind Vergne. Felipe Massa, who has had a disappointing season so far had reason to rejoice as he managed to bag his first podium finish of the season, finishing in third. Pascal Wehrlein (Mahindra Racing) did well to score some valuable points for his team from his fourth-place finish. Sebastian Buemi (Nissan e.dams) started and ended his race in fifth, rounding off the top five.
Mitch Evans (Panasonic Jaguar), who claimed third place in the Super Pole session came under investigation for powering up to 250kW before time. As this was his third formal reprimand of the season, the stewards handed him a 10-place grid penalty, as per the rules of Article 18.2.
So, the starting order was pegged as Vergne on top, followed by Pascal Wehrlein (Mahindra Racing) in second, Felipe Massa (Venturi) in third, Oliver Rowland in fourth and Sebastien Buemi (Nissan e.dams) in fifth. The race started with a close fight between Wehrlein and Vergne for the top spot. However, Vergne kept his cool as he managed to keep his lead through the tight bends of Monaco. Shortly after Buemi engaged his Attack Mode for boost, Wehrlein made a costly error as he went wide on Sainte-Devote, forcing Rowland and Massa to go ahead of him. Despite an early error, Wehrlein was unable to retake his position behind Vergne.
With the top order remaining unchanged for the rest of the race, the three leading drivers were soon in a race of their own as they built a sizeable lead from the rest of the pack. During the early stages, Vergne managed to build a good lead over Rowland but he soon found the Nissan e.dams driver right on his tail. While Rowland made one last attempt to seize the win from Vergne on the penultimate lap, it didn't prove to be good enough as Vergne took the chequered flag with a 0.2-second lead. Massa's third-place also came under pressure as his car survived contact with Wehrlein, who was also determined to take the final podium slot.
At the back, the proceedings turned sour for Lucas di Grassi (Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler) as an early collision with Alexander Sims (BMW i Andretti) at turn 3 ended his race. The Envision Virgin Racing duo was also struck by misfortune as previous race winner Robin Frijns became a victim of the Sims-Grassi incident and Sam Bird, who had been running in sixth place, caught a last-minute puncture and ultimately classified 17th on the grid, one place ahead of teammate Frijns. The other Mahindra Racing driver, Jerome d'Ambrosio, secured a no-points 13th place.
After the Monaco E-Prix, Vergne takes the lead in the driver's standings with 87 points, while his teammate Andre Lotterer (DS Techeetah) holds on to his second spot with 82 points. Frijns, who was one point ahead of Lotterer after the previous, now sits behind him by one point owing to his no-points finish. Antonio Felix da Costa (BMW i Andretti) shifts one place back to fourth with 78 points. In the constructors' championship, DS Techeetah leads with 169 points on board.