Jaguar TCS Racing’s Mitch Evans put in a great performance to take the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship Season 8 title fight to the final day after winning the inaugural Hana Bank Seoul E-Prix.
Formula E made its debut in Seoul on Saturday, marking the first time in nine years that South Korea had hosted a major motorsport event – most recently the 2013 Seoul Grand Prix – and also the first sporting event of the World Championship to be held at the Jamsil Olympic Stadium since the 1988 Olympic Games.
Stoffel Vandoorne (Mercedes-EQ) went into the weekend as a strong favorite for the world title with a 36-point lead over second-placed Evans in the Drivers’ Championship.
But victory for the Jaguar driver has wide-opened the title race towards the final E-Prix of the season.
Vandoorne, who finished fifth, will go into the second race of the double-header with a smaller 21-point lead over Evans, meaning a second win of the weekend for the Kiwi – something he achieved earlier in the season in Rome has – sensational could snatch the title from the Mercedes driver.
And after the race, Evans paid tribute to his team’s work in overcoming the difficult racing conditions in the South Korean capital and keeping his title challenge alive.
“That was the plan [to keep the Championship race alive],” he said. “It has taken a lot of work since London to make sure we can make that result possible. It was difficult this morning, we didn’t quite have the pace but then the rain came at just the right time – I qualified right up front – and got off to a good start.
“The race was really tough to handle, conditions keep changing so thanks to the team for the guidance. That’s what we needed, we don’t give up, so let’s go to tomorrow and keep fighting.
“Can I do the double? That’s the plan, I’ve done it before – let’s do it again.”
The Jaguar driver was followed by Oliver Rowland (Mahindra Racing) in second and Lucas di Grassi (ROKiT Venturi Racing) in third.
He sent Julius Baer polesitter Rowland off the line as the Brit struggled to get away cleanly over greasy road markings – the circuit was still soaked from a previous downpour. Evans then skirted di Grassi with a stealthy move at Turn 3, again on the first lap.
A violent maneuvering of several cars in the penultimate corner of the first tour caused a red flag standstill for 45 minutes. Sebastien Buemi (Nissan e.dams), Oliver Askew (Avalanche Andretti), Andre Lotterer (TAG Heuer Porsche), Dan Ticktum, Oliver Turvey (both NIO 333), Nick Cassidy (Envision Racing), Norman Nato (Jaguar TCS Racing) and Nyck de Vries (Mercedes-EQ) were all involved – surprised by standing water. It was an ugly incident in which the de Vries Buemis Silver Arrow 02 undercut Nissan. Fortunately, all drivers involved were unhurt.
From there, after the restart, it was relatively quiet for Evans, who maintained a comfortable three second lead over Rowland for much of the race; The Brit is delighted with his first podium of the season and his first with Mahindra. Di Grassis 39th Podium brought his 1,000thth Point in Formula E – the first driver ever – in his 99thth Run.
Jake Dennis (Avalanche Andretti) went into the TAG Heuer Fastest Lap with a clean run to fourth place, and Vandoorne limited Evans’ points progress by finishing in a handy fifth. Jean-Eric Vergne (DS TECHEETAH) completed the top six while Pascal Wehrlein (TAG Heuer Porsche), Robin Frijns (Envision Racing), Antonio Felix da Costa (DS TECHEETAH) and Cassidy completed the points finishes.
Di Grassi lost to Rowland at the stadium and immediately came under pressure from Dennis, who settled for third place.
On Lap 5, Mortara was the recipient of Vergne’s last-corner contact, causing the venturi to half-spin – although the Swiss had appeared to be moving in the braking zone, possibly trying to avoid puddles or bumps. Vergne was fifth and Vandoorne followed in sixth place. Mortara, who was seventh at the time, was handed a five-second time penalty.
Dennis and di Grassi were the first to jump for ATTACK MODE on laps 4 and 5, respectively, with the track looking half a second faster per lap as the standing water shifted and burned away.
Vandoorne gained more ground for fifth place with a regular pass to Vergne – a few more points in the bag and further damage to his championship lead limited as Evans still leads.
Mortara’s championship hopes ended on lap 20 with a puncture on the right rear and the result was his retirement. Twice as expensive for Venturi in their teams’ title fight with Mercedes-EQ.
Evans looked composed after the hard work now done. He was three seconds ahead of second-placed Rowland in the last five minutes, plus one lap. A brief slip with a lock-up at Turn 22 was pretty much the only wobble the New Zealander had throughout the race.
Alexander Sims (Mahindra Racing) had climbed to 10th placeth Position, but found the wall again after a rebound in qualifying – the Briton lost the rear of the car in the stadium.
The Mahindra’s recovery required a full course yellow and then a ban under the safety car and that was the end of the race.
:: Watch the final race of Season 8 live on Channel 4 tomorrow from 07:30 BST.
https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/motor-racing/formula-e-seoul-round-15-result-mitch-evans-b2144433.html Mitch Evans wins the penultimate race of the Formula E season and leads the title fight to the last day