DS Techeetah’s Jean-Eric Vergne resisted massive pressure from Oliver Rowland to secure victory in the Monaco ePrix with one percent of energy as he crossed the finish line. The Frenchman lead home Nissan e.Dams’ Oliver Rowland and Felipe Massa for home team Venturi.
“I really wanted to win Paris… But I’ve never had a podium in Monaco. I love this place”, said Vergne after the race.
Vergne made a decent start to cover off the challenge from Oliver Rowland whilst Nissan e.Dams teammate Sebastien Buemi found himself squeezed on the entry to the hairpin by Felipe Massa. Both Buemi and Massa would utilise attack mode to gain an advantage, but both would hold station whilst the rear tyres continued to be in a healthy state.
By lap 1, Vergne would begin to pull a one-second gap on the field, but would drag Mahindra’s Pascal Wehrlein along with him. Meanwhile Lucas Di Grassi had made a fistful of positions up and was running eleventh. A lock-up from Wehrlein however would drop the German down to fifth and put Massa into podium contention. Massa however had exhausted his attack modes, giving Wehrlein an opportunity to redeem himself.
Behind Wehrlein, a train was beginning to form behind Sebastien Buemi, with Alex Simms, Alex Lynn and Antonio Felix Da Costa all waiting to pounce. Da Costa was able to use the bottleneck to execute a move on Lynn to go tandem with Simms before his teammate allowed Da Costa to pass.
Clearly the faster of the BMW drivers, Da Costa began to close on Buemi with twenty seconds left of attack mode at his disposal. By the time the drivers reached St Devote, the protagonists would need to rely on good old-fashioned skill to gain position.
Up front, the gap between Vergne and Rowland had closed to 1.2 seconds while Sam Bird and Lucas Di Grassi both moved into the top ten at the expense of Stoffel Vandoorne and Alex Lynn. Lynn was now losing positions hand over fist – now losing positions to Robin Frijns and Jaguar teammate Mitch Evans.
Damage from Lynn’s right front and debris from Max Gunther would force a brief full course yellow period. At the return of the green, Simms would attempt an outside pass on Bird, but in turn would leave Di Grassi no room and slammed into the side of the Audi driver. The resulting damage to his front right suspension would force Di Grassi out of the race.
Bird meanwhile had scythed his way through the field, executing precision-perfect manoeuvres to jump from fourteenth to sixth and stay in championship contention.
Rowland, Vergne and Massa would activate attack mode with five minutes left on the clock, but a collision between Simms and Frijns would once again bring out the double waved yellows. Incredible work from the marshals however would clear the stricken Virgin from turn one.
With two percent usable energy left, Rowland looked to make his move. Likewise with Massa having spent his energy was under pressure from Wehrlein. Both Vergne and Massa however would hold on to secure a win and the final podium position respectively.
Vergne’s win would put him on top of the championship table, although disaster would strike Sam Bird however after enduring a puncture – ending the Brit’s race.
Images: DS Techeetah
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