Mitch Evans delivered under pressure to keep his title chances alive and slice into Stoffel Vandoorne’s points advantage as the New Zealander jumped from third on the grid to win Saturday’s Hana Bank Seoul E-Prix in style.
The Jaguar TCS Racing driver dispatched polesitter Oliver Rowland (Mahindra Racing) off the line as the Briton struggled to get away cleanly over greasy road markings, the circuit still soaked from an earlier downpour. Evans then passed Lucas di Grassi (ROKiT Venturi Racing) with a stealthy move into Turn 3 on the opening lap and didn’t look back.
It was an incident-packed opening lap as a multi-car shunt at the penultimate corner caused a 45-minute red flag stoppage. Sebastien Buemi, Oliver Askew, Andre Lotterer, Dan Ticktum, Oliver Turvey, Nick Cassidy, Norman Nato and Nyck de Vries were all caught out by standing water to hit the wall. De Vries’ Mercedes undercut Buemi’s Nissan, which came to rest on top of the Dutchman’s car. Fortunately, there were no injuries.
After the restart, it was a relatively serene Saturday afternoon for Evans, who eased to a comfortable three-second gap for much of the race ahead of Rowland.
“It has been a lot of work since London to make sure we can make this result possible,” related Evans. “This morning was tricky; we didn’t quite have the pace, but then the rain came at the right time. I qualified at the front and had a good start. The race was really hard to manage — the conditions change all the time, so thanks to the team for guiding me through. This is what we needed, we don’t give up, so we go to tomorrow and keep fighting. Can I do the double? That’s the plan, I’ve done it before — let’s do it again!”
Rowland was happy to secure his first podium finish of the season and his first with Mahindra. Meanwhile, the Briton’s future Mahindra teammate, Lucas di Grassi, earned his 39th podium in third place and became the first driver in Formula E to surpass 1,000 points. Tomorrow, he is set to become the only driver to have competed in all 100 E-Prix.
Jake Dennis (Avalanche Andretti) took fourth place, while Vandoorne kept the points ticking over with fifth place. Jean-Eric Vergne (DS Techeetah) had a mathematical chance of winning the drivers’ championship going into the race but his sixth-place finish ended his unlikely title run. Pascal Wehrlein (TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team), Robin Frijns (Envision Racing), Antonio Felix da Costa (DS Techeetah) and Nick Cassidy (Envision Racing) rounded out the points-paying positions.
It’s now a straight fight between Vandoorne and Evans for the Formula E the drivers’ world championship, which will be decided in Sunday’s final race of the season. Mercedes-EQ sits atop the teams’ championship with 301 points but ROKiT Venturi Racing can still overhaul the German manufacturer.
The second race in the Hana Bank Seoul E-Prix doubleheader will also be the 100th E-Prix in Formula E history, and will mark the end of the Gen2 race car era, ahead of an all-new Gen3 race car debuting next season.