FE, Valencia, Race 1: De Vries wins wet Valencia opener
Mercedes-EQ star returns to the top of the championship table
Nyck de Vries (Mercedes-EQ) survived a tough Valencia E-Prix today (24 April) to clinch the second victory of his ABB FIA Formula E World Championship career, with the result vaulting him back to the top of the title chase – as many drivers ran out of energy in the final minutes.
De Vries started the race down in seventh position due to a five-place grid drop following an accident in Rome, but the Dutchman benefitted from an early contretemps between André Lotterer (TAG Heuer Porsche), Norman Nato (ROKiT Venturi Racing) and Sébastien Buemi (Nissan e.dams) that removed the Swiss driver from contention and earned the German a drive-through penalty.
That elevated de Vries to fourth and prompted the safety car intervention. At the re-start, the 26-year-old wasted no time at all in scything his way artfully past Alex Lynn (Mahindra Racing) and Maximilian Günther (BMW i Andretti Motorsport) to move into second behind leader António Félix da Costa (DS TECHEETAH).
The Mercedes man continued to shadow the defending champion from that point on, but whilst further neutralisations would repeatedly cancel out da Costa’s advantage, still the Portuguese ace appeared to have proceedings under control as he zeroed in on his first win of the 2020/21 campaign.
Unfortunately, da Costa and many others ran out of energy in the final minutes. Having carefully conserved his own energy, de Vries had no such concerns, and he gratefully inherited the lead to cement his second success of the season.
Dragon/Penske Autosport’s Nico Müller started the E-Prix all the way back in 22nd position, then had an eventful race but by dint of saving sufficient energy, he held on to the chequered flag in second place – the first podium finish of his Formula E career.
Stoffel Vandoorne (Mercedes-EQ) was the man to beat in qualifying, but a tyre rule infringement subsequently saw him demoted from the front to the rear of the grid. He had risen as high as 12th prior to incurring a five-second penalty for causing a collision with Müller, but like his Dragon rival, he benefitted from a strong energy management to pick up a podium.
Nick Cassidy wound up fourth in the final reckoning to secure the strongest result of his Formula E career. Both Envision Virgin Racing cars looked particularly racy in the closing stages as they battled forward in tandem, with stablemate Robin Frijns being classified sixth from a lowly 15th on the grid, keeping the Dutchman’s championship challenge very much alive.
René Rast (Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler) split the two Virgin drivers in fifth, with former champion Lucas Di Grassi (Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler), Jake Dennis (BMW i Andretti Motorsport) and Jean-Eric Vergne (DS TECHEETAH) completing the points-scorers.
With five rounds of the campaign now in the books, a Jaguar one-two has been replaced by a Mercedes one-two at the summit of the standings, with de Vries leading Vandoorne by nine points. The second leg of the Valencia E-Prix will get underway at 14:00 CET tomorrow (Sunday, 25 April).
Nyck de Vries, Mercedes-EQ Formula E Team
“What a race! To be honest, I’m even happier today than when I won my first race in Diriyah, especially with this victory coming as such a surprise. After the really tough race weekend in Rome and the five-place grid penalty for this race, I definitely wasn’t expecting it. But it’s a fantastic way for me to bounce back. Many thanks to the whole team, who executed the strategy perfectly today, and of course to Stoffel, who fought his way from the back of the field to the front. Today has turned to be a simply fabulous day for our team.”
Nico Müller, DRAGON / PENSKE AUTOSPORT
“‘I was at the back of the grid when the restart began and I couldn’t believe the numbers. I tried to reassure myself and checked all data with my engineers. I was happier and happier as I kept climbing one position after the other. I couldn’t think of a better way to reward the team from their hard work. The result is definitely a positive surprise. Qualifying wasn’t great for us, but we managed to turn it around during the race. This is what makes Formula E so unique, its unpredictability!”
Stoffel Vandoorne, Mercedes-EQ Formula E Team
“I’m really surprised to have finished the race on the podium. The race was incredibly intense, and so much happened today. First, I was on pole, then all my qualifying times were cancelled and I had to start from last on the grid. In the race itself, I had contact, went through the gravel and had to conserve energy towards the end. Our pace was good, and our strategy proved to be the right one. The laps after the final safety car restart were crazy. I was overtaking cars left and right that had run out of energy. But that’s what is so special about Formula E – one moment you’re down, the next you’re on the podium. You should never give up. Congratulations to Nyck on his win and the whole team on this double podium. We have been strong in the last few races, and that’s the way we have to carry on.”
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