Vergne wins Monaco E-Prix as Massa secures first Formula E podium

The Frenchman scores lights-to-flag Monaco EPrix win

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By Olivier Ferret

11 May 2019 - 20:04
Vergne wins Monaco E-Prix as Massa (...)

Set in glamorous surroundings on the Mediterranean coast, the Monaco E-Prix offered thrilling excitement. Jean-Eric Vergne lifted himself back into title contention with his victory on the streets of Monte Carlo, bringing to an end the streak of eight consecutive different winners so far this season.

The reigning champion held off the advances of Oliver Rowland in the closing stages of the race with energy levels dropping, but managed to stay in the lead and take the chequered flag. The result marks Vergne’s first win around the Principality in any discipline. Vergne led away from pole position, despite Rowland topping the times in the qualifying classification. The Nissan e.dams driver had carried over a three-place grid penalty for causing a collision with Alexander Sims in Paris.

Rowland, who was later promoted to third on the grid due to Mitch Evans receiving a penalty for a third reprimand, jumped ahead of Pascal Wehrlein in the early phase of the race after the Mahindra Racing driver locked-up and went deep into Sainte-Devote. Not only did Wehrlein lose a place to Rowland - who set his sights on Vergne at the head of the field - he struggled to put down the power and fell behind Felipe Massa on the run down to the Turn 3 hairpin.

With the leading quartet pulling away and building a gap to Sebastien Buemi in fifth, it became a strategic battle about when to use ATTACK MODE and make a move. Rowland was the first to try with the final activation approaching the five-minute mark, however, Vergne and Massa mirrored his move a lap later to quell any speed advantage.

Despite running nose-to-tail in the final few corners, the top-four remained in the same order as they crossed the line - leading Vergne to become the only repeat winner this season and vaulting the DS TECHEETAH driver to the top of the standings.

The podium positions were completed by Massa, claiming his first podium in the ABB FIA Formula E Championship on home soil for the Monegasque VENTURI Formula E Team. Massa finished in front of Wehrlein in fourth, who secured an extra point for setting fastest lap.

Buemi couldn’t continue his unbeaten form in Monaco. After winning the previous two editions, he ended up in fifth over five seconds behind Wehrlein, with Mitch Evans a place further back in sixth after Antonio Felix da Costa was disqualified for exceeding maximum power usage.

Andre Lotterer was promoted to seventh, putting him one point behind Vergne in the title race. Alex Lynn scored his first points since his return for Panasonic Jaguar Racing in eighth, as Stoffel Vandoorne and Jose Maria Lopez moved up the order following a post-race time penalty for Daniel Abt for causing a collision with Oliver Turvey at Turn 1.

The next stop on the European leg of the championship will be in Berlin. The German capital made an appearance on the Formula E calendar every season so far and will host the fifth edition on 25 May – round ten of the 2018/2019 ABB FIA Formula E Championship.

Jean-Eric Vergne, DS TECHEETAH:

"Having my first podium in Monaco and being a winner, I feel extremely happy, it’s an incredible feeling. The race, I think, was pretty much under control. When I wanted to push I could create a gap big enough and then my engineers were telling me the gap to Oliver and I was lifting depending on how close he was so I could keep the target and at the end we were very close. It was a question of staying on track and finishing the race and I knew that if I closed the door at the right time he wouldn’t pass me unless he went over me so I was feeling pretty confident.”

Oliver Rowland, Nissan e.dams

"You come here and you already know it’s very difficult to overtake so you come here with a target to maximise qualifying and I think that’s what we did today and then yes, to be honest, to finish second with a three-place penalty is amazing, but I think that more than anything today I think I’m happy with the race performance. I think it was probably my first good race and especially as it’s quite a big saving track, I struggled a lot when on the big saving tracks and I felt today I made a good step in my driving and understanding of the energy management, so all in all I’m very positive, very happy.”

Felipe Massa, VENTURI Formula E Team

"Well, it was definitely a nice race - nice qualifying, a very clean race, I’m so happy. The best race here in Monaco for the team, our home E-Prix. It was so special when I was on the podium and I saw my son screaming and that’s a really great feeling. Looking at these kind of things gives you extra happiness - I’m doing what I love to do and getting the results is always the best achievement. After the podium Gildo Pastor, our boss, was crying and he’s from here and I think that after everything he’s been through it was a really great day.”

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