SEOUL: Mitch Evans produced under pressure to keep his title chances alive and slice into Stoffel Vandoorne’s points advantage as the Kiwi jumped from third on the grid to win the 2022 Hana Bank Seoul E-Prix in style on Saturday.
Championship leader Vandoorne finished fifth to see his lead now reduced to 21 points with Evans second, meaning Sunday’s final race of the season will determine the winner of this year’s championship.
On Saturday, Evans of Jaguar TCS Racing driver dispatched Julius Bär polesitter Oliver Rowland (Mahindra Racing) off the line as the Brit struggled to get away cleanly over greasy road markings, the circuit still soaked from an earlier downpour. Evans then rounded Lucas di Grassi (ROKiT Venturi Racing) with a stealthy move into Turn 3 on the opening lap and did not 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. Sébastien Buemi, Oliver Askew, André Lotterer, Dan Ticktum, Oliver Turvey, Nick Cassidy, Norman Nato and Nyck de Vries were all caught out by standing water to hit the wall. There was an audible gasp from the stadium crowd as they saw de Vries’ Silver Arrow 02 undercut Buemi’s Nissan, which came to rest on top of the Dutchman’s car. Thankfully, 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. The Brit was happy to seal his first podium finish of the season and his first with Mahindra.
After his win, Evans said: “That was the plan (to keep the Championship race alive). It has been a lot of work since London to make sure we can make this result possible. 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.”
Meanwhile, Rowland’s future Mahindra teammate, di Grassi, earned his 39th podium in third place and became the first driver in Formula E to surpass 1,000 points. On Sunday, he is set to become the only driver in the championship to have competed in all 100 E-Prix.
Jake Dennis (Avalanche Andretti) steered to the TAG Heuer Fastest Lap and fourth place, while Vandoorne kept the points ticking over with fifth place. Jean-Éric Vergne (DS TECHEETAH) had a mathematical chance of winning the championship going into the race, but his sixth-place finish ends his unlikely title run. Pascal Wehrlein (TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team), Robin Frijns (Envision Racing), António Félix da Costa (DS TECHEETAH) and Cassidy (Envision Racing) rounded out the points-paying positions.
The Drivers’ World Championship will be decided in the final race of the season with Vandoorne and Evans battling for Season 8 supremacy.
Mercedes-EQ sit atop the Teams’ World Championship with 301 points, but ROKiT Venturi Racing can still overhaul the German manufacturer.
The inaugural race in Seoul today will be followed tomorrow by Round 16, the final race in the biggest-ever ABB FIA Formula E World Championship season of 16 races in 10 world cities.
The second race in the Hana Bank Seoul E-Prix 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.