The intrigue was resolved - the reigning Formula E champion Jean-Eric Vergne, with his second victory in Monaco, interrupted a series of new winners in every race of the fifth season. Now, after the ninth E-Prix, the French pilot has topped the individual competition just one point ahead of teammate André Lotterer.
It is perhaps unnecessary to mention that the city circuit in Monaco is famous for its non-overtaking predisposition. The track prepared for the E-Prix differed from the one for Formula 1 only in length: the already not too long track along the streets of the capital of the principality (3340 m) was reduced to 1765 meters and mainly ran along the embankment of Prince Albert and a parallel street. The most interesting sections were not included in it: for example, Formula E decided to do in its configuration without the Casino, the slowest hairpin and, of course, without the tunnel. Interestingly, of the four previous seasons, Monaco hosted Formula E only twice, and the first two lines of the tournament table were consistently occupied by Sebastian Buemi and Lucas di Grassi. This year, Formula E returned to Monaco for a very significant year,when the principality celebrates the 90th anniversary of the very first race on its streets. Monte Carlo hosts various auto racing series for several weekends in a row, and all this will end with a real holiday on May 26, when Formula 1 cars will rush through the streets.
Formula E came here this time with a new generation of cars and with the maximum intensity of passions: with each subsequent race this season, the intrigue was growing, which of the pilots will be able to repeat their victory? Indeed, for the eight previous stages, the winner has never been repeated. E-Prix Monaco had all the prerequisites to interrupt the series of new victories: the athletes from the head of the peloton, despite the fact that they constantly change places in the ranking, generally retain their positions, and the points gap between them is minimal. And it was obvious that one of these Top-8 riders has excellent chances for pole position and subsequent victory, because, as in the senior series, qualification is most important here: and if the pole position holder does not make a mistake in the race, then his rivals will overtake very difficult.
Among the main contenders for victory in Monaco were named two team-mates in Virgin Racing - Robin Freins, who won the day before at the stage in Paris, and Sam Byrd, who became the winner in Santiago de Chile (by the way, Virgin Racing is the only team that chalked up two victories this season, but in the team event she is only second behind DS Techeetah). Also highly regarded was last year's champion and winner of this season's stage in Mexico, Lucas di Grassi, who finished second twice in Monaco and had every chance to compete for success.
Sebastian Buemi won twice on this narrow city track, besides, he did not make it to superpole only once this season (it was in Hong Kong), and the rest of the time he was in the top six. Well, it's time for at least someone to interrupt the series of failures that have followed the Nissan E-Dams team - so why not Buemi? It was impossible to discount André Lotterer, who managed to climb to second place in the individual competition without a single victory and dreaming of doing it in Monaco, as well as Felix da Costa, claiming to win the championship, and Jerome D'Ambrosio, who had been in the lead for a long time. … We cannot forget Oliver Rowland, who desperately wants to rehabilitate himself after the failure at the last stage, as well as the reigning Formula E champion Jean-Eric Verne.
Роуланд после аварии и потери лидерства на гонке в Париже приложил все свои усилия, чтобы показать лучшее время в квалификации, прошел в суперпоул и там оказался настолько хорош, что никто из пяти его соперников (Вернь, Эванс, Верляйн, Масса и Буэми) не смог ничего ему противопоставить. Именно британский пилот, новичок сезона на Nissan E.Dams, сумел преодолеть трассу за 50 секунд и завоевать поул-позицию в гонке. Однако, как известно, после прошлого E-Prix в Париже он был наказан потерей трех позиций на старте за произошедший там инцидент - и в итоге в Монако отправился на третье место, откуда и стартовал в гонке. Еще хуже сложились дела для пилота команды Jaguar Racing Митча Эванса. Во время заездов суперпоула он допустил ошибку, за которую получил от судей предупреждение. Однако для новозеландца оно стало уже третьим за сезон, а по правилам серии три предупреждения караются пенализацией в десять мест на гриде. Так что Эванс со второго места на старте в Монако, которое вполне могло принести ему победу, отправился на 12-е и фактически потерял любую надежду на победу.
Perhaps, as always in Monaco, the race was not very spectacular - although traditionally this time there were several accidents and collisions here too - it was far from easy. Pascal Wehrlein, who finished second on the grid after Rowland and Evans penalties, lost two positions on the second lap due to a small mistake, which his pursuers took advantage of. Starting from pole position, Jean-Eric Vergne was forced to defend the entire race against the pressing behind Rowland. Felipe Masse, who was well acquainted with the Grand Prix track, had no difficulty in getting used to the new configuration, and throughout the race he was part of the quartet of leaders (plus Vergne, Rowland and Wehrlein), who significantly broke away from the rest of the peloton and all 45 minutes of the race fought for the lead and place on the podium. Sebastian Buemi was seriously inferior to them on the track,however, he managed to maintain his fifth place.
“Victory in Monaco is a dream of any pilot,” Jean Eric Vergne said after the finish. - I've never stood here on the podium. Believe it or not, I remember the names of all the legendary drivers who won this podium, and I will never forget how difficult it was for me in Formula 1. So now it is a very special feeling for me. "
And this is not surprising - after all, Jean Eric Vergne arrived at the ninth stage, occupying the sixth line in the individual competition, and leaves the leader, albeit with a minimal lead over his teammate Andre Lotterer.
By about the middle of the race, the quiet battle reached its climax again - the struggle unfolded in all segments of the peloton. Sam Bird and Lucas di Grassi simultaneously managed to take advantage of the mistakes of rivals Vandorn and Lynn and climb two positions at once, finding themselves in the points zone, and a little later, on the 30th lap, Edo Mortara and Maximilian Gunther crashed, as a result of which the regime was introduced yellow flags. Yellow flags reduced Vergne's advantage, but at the restart he managed to keep the position cleanly and continued to lead the race. But in the middle of the peloton, everything was not so smooth.
In the battle for position, Alex Sims crashed into Lucas di Grassi, knocking him into safety barriers on one of the most famous sections of the track in Monaco - at the Basin, where di Grassi finished his race. And again the yellow flags.
But this was not enough for Alexander Sims: he continues his "harvest" and knocks out Robin Freyns from the game in the next fight for positions. And if Sims still manages to return to the race, then the winner of the last stage, Freyns, is evacuated from the track using a special crane.
Unfortunately, for the co-pilot of Virgin Racing, Sam Byrd, the race ended ahead of schedule - on the last lap due to a puncture of the wheel, which led to a flight into the safety barriers, the pilot was forced to stop in the middle of the track. Byrd had a very beautiful race, even on a track as difficult as Monaco, taking back position after position.
As a result, out of four Audi cars (the Virgin team is an Audi client), only Daniel Abt reached the finish in Monaco (he finished eighth), and he was fined and did not score points. Disqualification in the race and cancellation of the results was also received by Felix da Costa.
The last rounds of the race were remembered by the spectators for their desperate struggle in the quartet of leaders. In the absence of tire variety, pilots and teams base their strategy on using the attack mode, which provides a short-term increase in power of about 30 hp. The first such regime in the second half of the race decided to include Oliver Rowland - for the last desperate attempt to overtake Jean-Eric Verne, but the Frenchman also took this opportunity and retained the lead.
Pascal Wehrlein was the last to use him and, accordingly, he still had this opportunity when others had already fully chosen their time. Several times Wehrlein launched attacks on Felipe Massa, but the Brazilian very competently and desperately defended his third place, and in the end Wehrlein surrendered. For Felipe, this season's rookie, the podium was the first in his Formula E career.
“I never doubted my own capabilities,” Massa said after finishing the E-Prix. - We really needed such a clean race. I had all the chances of being on the podium before, but something happened all the time.
The race was great. And I distinctly remember how my children screamed and cheered me as I drove past their podium - it was incredible. And at the end of the award ceremony, our team boss Gildo Pastor (owner of Venturi Automobiles - drom.ru) cried and thanked me for being able to do this in Monaco. After it's all over, you understand that such events are not just a podium that the pilot climbed. This is what brings great and well-deserved joy to the whole team. "
Here, it turns out, where you can find the advantage of quiet Formula E engines: they do not drown out the screams of the fans in the stands - and this is clearly a pleasant bonus for the riders who only benefit from such encouragement! The Formula 1 pilots obviously cannot boast of this.
So, after the ninth stage of the fifth season of Formula E in Monaco, Jean-Eric Vergne took the lead in the individual competition, but it will still not work to call the situation in the standings stable. He is only one point away from Andre Lotterer, and five more from Robin Frijns' third place. The last Top 10 driver Sam Byrd is 33 points behind the leader, but there are still four stages ahead, and that could change.
The best moments of the race:
The tenth E-Prix will take place on May 25 in the streets of Berlin.
Best lap: Pascal Wehrlein - 52.385 seconds