The experienced Lucas Di Grassi sealed a popular London E-Prix win in the second ABB FIA Formula E World Championship round of the weekend (31 July) for ROKiT Venturi Racing. FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem attended the event and met executives, Team Principals and drivers from across the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship before presenting the winning trophy to di Grassi on the podium. Meanwhile, in the fight for the championship crown, Stoffel Vandoorne continued his march to a maiden Formula E crown.
The passionate London fans were treated to pulsating weekend of electric motorsport, with local hero Jake Dennis on the cusp of greatness in his Avalanche Andretti machine. The British driver won the opening round the previous day and the home fan hype train continued as Dennis sealed back-to-back pole positions on Sunday morning. Lucas Di Grassi was alongside on the front row with Antonio Giovinazzi securing his best qualifying result in third for Dragon / Penske Autosport.
Dennis and Di Grassi were quickest out the blocks – scampering away from the rest of the field as they shadowed each other around the indoor/outdoor 2.14km circuit. Giovinazzi enjoyed his time at the front, but a drive through penalty for overpower dropped him out of the race for the rostrum.
This allowed Mercedes-EQ ace Nyck de Vries to capitalise. The Dutch driver had qualified well and was the first of the front runners to use the first of the three Attack Modes available to the drivers. A carefully calculated race saw him breeze past Giovinazzi and DS TECHEETAH pilot António Félix da Costa in the early stages before setting his sights on the top two.
Di Grassi, whilst sat behind Dennis had manage to gain an extra percent of battery life on his British rival, hounding him through the twists and turns of the ExCeL circuit. Di Grassi and ROKiT Venturi Racing had planned the Attack Modes to perfection – with Di Grassi using his final one with 17 minutes left on the clock. With fresher rubber beneath him, the Brazilian was able to hook his way onto the back on Dennis, so when the British driver had to run wide into the Attack Mode activation zone, Di Grassi swooped into the lead with a little over eight minutes on the clock.
While Di Grassi had the online Fan Boost in his pocked, Dennis had the passionate British support, sparking the extra wind in his sails in the closing stages. Try as he may, Dennis had no answer, and Di Grassi used his Fan Boost with minutes to go – stretching his margin to handful of seconds to thread his way to his first win for ROKiT Venturi Racing, with Dennis second and a hounding De Vries behind him to lock out the podium finishers.
While it was new winners spraying the champagne at the front this weekend, the championship protagonists had a swing in fortunes around the London Docklands.
First of the championship hopefuls to struggle was Jean-Éric Vergne, with the Frenchman retiring on lap two. With no score in four, that looks to be the end of his title tilt.
Another driver with championship aspirations was Edoardo Mortara. The Swiss driver had enjoyed the rub of the green in recent rounds, but while his teammate took the London lime light, the ROKiT Venturi Racing star couldn’t find the necessary spark around the bumpy London streets – finishing outside the points.
Second in the standings was Mitch Evans who was having a blistering race – climbing up to fourth from a disappointing qualifying effort. The New Zealander had sparring partner Stoffel Vandoorne in his back pocket, with the Belgian driver several positions behind. The points gap was set to close up, until with just minutes left on the clock, mechanical gremlins worked their way into the Jaguar TCS Racing single-seater. Evans limped his way out of the race and possibly the title fight.
That allowed Stoffel Vandoorne who despite having a lap one brush with Porsche driver Pascal Wehrlein had a quiet race to leap into fourth, and with it extended his cushion at the summit of the standings with a 36 point gap with now only two races remaining.
Closing Vandoorne down in the final laps was António Félix da Costa (DS TECHEETAH) who got muscled down the order despite showing podium promise early on. Sébastien Buemi was showing a stronger turn in pace for Nissan e.dams in sixth as he led home a train of cars, including Robin Frijns (Envision Racing) and Sam Bird (Jaguar TCS Racing) who were all fighting for valuable points inside the top ten. Despite several unlucky moments this season, Sérgio Sette Câmara notched up his first points for Dragon / Penske Autosport ahead of Wehrlein who recovered to tenth in the TAG Heuer Porsche.
The ABB FIA Formula E Championship will reach its thrilling conclusion in South Korea, with the Seoul E-Prix double header on the 13/14 August deciding the 2022 champion.
Lucas Di Grassi, ROKiT Venturi Racing: “It means everything. Thank you everybody for being here. Congratulations to all my competitors, all the great drivers out there. It was a massive fight with Jake. It was very strategic – using ATTACK MODE at the right moment, saving energy at the right moment. The team gave me the perfect feedback. The car was amazing today and after what happened yesterday, I think we deserve it very much. Yeah, of course, it depends really how you use energy as well - it’s not only ATTACK MODE. So today, we used ATTACK MODE to create the right energy buffer and then when the time was right, we used the energy and opened the gap and just kept it from there. Jake was struggling a little bit to the rear of his car I think and I saw that if I could push for two or three laps was enough because here was very hard to overtake. So thanks to the guys that made it the perfect car today.”
Jake Dennis, Avalanche Andretti: “Yeah for sure. Obviously a really difficult race today. Lucas was incredibly fast and we were sorting out a couple of things with the car today which makes life really difficult but nevertheless if someone told me this weekend I was going to finish first and second in front of a home crowd. Honestly the race was so physical and genuinely having the British support made a big difference so thank you all, thank you so much this weekend - you’ve been absolute legends, and yeah I’ve just thoroughly enjoyed the whole weekend and now we can go and celebrate. Yeah of course, you’ve always got to be careful of the Flying Dutchman behind you. He’s obviously incredibly fast so yeah it was a challenging race the last 10 laps, but we held on and finished a deserved P2, so yeah well done to Lucas all credit to him and big shout out to my team this weekend you’ve absolutely smashed it.”
Nyck de Vries, Mercedes EQ: “I wanted to consolidate because 7/8 laps until the end something broke on the left front suspension so I was really afraid I wouldn’t finish the race. Perhaps if it wasn’t for that we could have showed a bit of attack on Dennis later in the race, but overall we are happy to consolidate a good team result and good points for the team. I am very happy, the team executed a great race with all the ATTACK MODES and everything so I am very happy.”