Formula E had it all in Round 15, tricky qualifying conditions, a wild sequence of opening laps, heartbreak & a dominating performance.
As Formula E arrived at the Seoul Olympic Park the stage was set for another dramatic season-ender. A brand new track with multiple surfaces. Rainy conditions throughout the weekend creating setup challenges. Four drivers and four teams still mathematically in contention for their respective titles. And Round 15 at the Seoul E-Prix delivered.
1 – Wet Qualifying sets up an intriguing E-Prix
The rainy conditions that were expected throughout the weekend arrived in force for qualifying. Added pressure on the top four that knew any mistakes could cost them their chance at the title. It was Jean-Eric Vergne who missed out on Group Stage in qualifying, effectively ending his quite remote chance of pulling off the unthinkable in Seoul. It was Oliver Rowland & the Mahindra on pole, but more on them in a moment. The other interesting twist the rain brought was a wet track to start the E-Prix forcing teams to gamble on the favorable wet setup at the start of the race or lean towards a setup that would benefit them in the later stages as the track dried.
2 – Massive pileup leads to a long Red Flag
It’s been said many times in the past few months, but Season 8 has truly delivered an entertaining end for the Gen2 car. Historically big overtakes and wrecks often stick in the memory a bit longer. On the second lap, while the frontrunners sailed through without issue, Norman Nato went straight into the wall in slick conditions. He wasn’t alone though as another seven (!) cars followed him in what looked like a rush attempt to park. Season 7 champion Nyck de Vries found himself wedged up under the Nissan of Sébastien Buemi. Ultimately the incident would eliminate six cars from the race and force a lengthy red flag. Eye-catching, but still not as dramatic as the leaders sliding out in the rain in NYC. By the time the race restarted the track had dried significantly, which could have posed an unwelcome hurdle for race leader Mitch Evans.
Great to see all seven drivers walk away unscathed from this incident at the start of the race.
Round 15 is currently under red flag conditions as the cars are recovered from the track.
— Formula E (@FIAFormulaE) August 13, 2022
3 – Evans driving as if his life depended on it
Coming into the race, ahead of Stoffel Vandoorne on the grid, Evans knew he needed to not only finish ahead of his title rival but significantly cut into his lead for any chance of pulling off a big comeback in Seoul. The opening lap proved that Evans was up for the challenge. With Rowland getting a poor start, Evans overtook him for second place heading into the first turn. He then passed Lucas di Grassi in turn two and never looked back. As conditions changed and the field restarted after the red flag Evans never looked under threat. In fact, his only mistake the entire race was a late lock-up that cost him about eight-tenths of a second. But his lead was so large for much of the race that even that didn’t put his win in danger. Step one complete and on to Round 16.
4 – Night & Day for a busy Mahindra Racing in Seoul
Coming into Seoul Mahindra were 9th in the team standings and had only achieved five points finishes from their drivers (out of a possible 28 at that point). However, the weekend started off well with the announcement that Lucas de Grassi would be joining the team for Season 9. Qualifying saw Oliver Rowland land his first pole this season, while his teammate Alexander Sims crashed sending him to the backrow of the starting grid. Despite a bad launch off the line, Rowland recovered to finish second, Mahindra’s first podium of the year. Meanwhile, Sims, who is leaving Formula E after this weekend, avoided the early crash, ran into Antonio Giovinazzi picking up a five-second penalty, and then ultimately crashing to cause the race-ending caution. Overall, positive momentum in Seoul and heading into next season, even with Sim’s unfortunate day.
Lucas di Grassi becomes the first driver to pass 1,000 points in Formula E with his 39th podium in his 99th race, seeing him to a total of 1,009.
— Formula E (@FIAFormulaE) August 13, 2022
5 – Mercedes in position for back-to-back double Championships
Comfortably in first in both championships, Mercedes leave round 15 in control. And the fact that that is the case when Nyck de Vries crashed out in lap two, is all down to the steady drivers of Stoffel Vandoorne and rivals failing to capitalize. It looked like Venturi would take a sizable margin out of Mercedes’ lead until Edoardo Mortara’s late tire puncture dropped him from the points and out of the race. Heartbreak once again as the Venturi driver sees his luck fail him on the final weekend of the season. Mercedes now head into the final day with a 31-point advantage in the Team Championship while Vandoorne has a 21-point lead over Mitch Evans. It could be the perfect ending as the Silver Arrows exit Formula E.
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