Thanks to a strong start, Jaguar driver Mitch Evans keeps the world championship duel against Stoffel Vandoorne (Mercedes) open. A pile-up at the start eliminated six cars from the race and caused a lengthy disruption in Formula E's debut in Seoul.
After the severe storms at the beginning of the week, rain is also the constant issue at Formula E's first guest appearance in the South Korean capital. Steady rainfall between qualifying and the first run made for a wet but quickly drying track in the Olympic Park. Pole setter Oliver Rowland (Mahindra) was the first victim of these challenging conditions right at the start when he lost traction when crossing the painted advertising panel on the start line and dropped back to 3rd place.
Lucas di Grassi (Venturi-Mercedes) squeezed through the opening corner in first place, but was later overtaken by Mitch Evans, who took full risks on the first lap to close the big gap on Championship leader Vandoorne. The New Zealander, coming from 3rd place, describes his wild start phase: "For me, the rain was a blessing from the qualification. The attack against di Grassi came about spontaneously because I unexpectedly got a lot of space for the manoeuvre." While Evans was leading the way with the courage of desperation, there was a violent crash before the end of the first lap. Eight cars missed the penultimate corner and sometimes crashed heavily.
Bad visibility or cold brakes?
First, Norman Nato (Jaguar) slipped into the gray plastic barrier. The replacement for Sam Bird, who broke his hand at the previous race weekend in London, was later able to resume racing. Directly behind him, Nissan's Sébastien Buemi also lost control in the fast, bumpy corner. The reigning world champion Nyck de Vries (Mercedes) then spectacularly crashed into the rear of the Swiss: The Dutchman was pushed under the Nissan and protected from serious consequences by the halo bar.
In addition to the two, the Nio driver duo Turvey and Ticktum as well as Oliver Askew (Andretti Autosport) and André Lotterer (Porsche) returned to the garages without a race car. For Lotterer, who is driving for the Porsche works team for the last time in Seoul, it was the early end of a frustrating day. After two practice sessions without presentable results, the 40-year-old caught a slow flat tire right in the outlap of the first qualifying session. Porsche is now building a new vehicle for him for Sunday.
The trigger for the wild bowling out was the poor visibility after the long straight. Heading towards the chaos, Oliver Turvey described after the race: "My wheels locked up a bit but I was still able to dodge the mess and even avoided the wall contact.But then Oliver Askew hit me. The track was very slippery and we all still had cold brakes. A lot of things came together here." Norman Nato also blamed another variable next to the ideal line with a slippery concrete section.
More than 40 minutes of forced break
Under red, first the track and later the field order had to get back into shape As usual, race director Scot Elkins took pragmatic measures and allowed the pit lane to be jigsaw together, Mitch Evans remaining in the lead, with Oliver Rowland restarting behind him after conceding di Grassi again in the stadium section. Stoffel Vandoorne saw the green flag in seventh place
Mitch Evans controlled the remaining 43 minutes almost effortlessly on the still heavily drying track.He and his team cleverly designed both the energy management and the use of the two attack modes. In Seoul there is the special feature that the activation loop for the additional kW is close to the ideal line and as a driver you do not lose any positions when driving through, even in close duels.
On the other hand, things got down to business in the upper midfield, where the championship leader Stoffel Vandoorne was also involved in nickel things. Among others, the Belgian overtook Jean-Éric Vergne (DS-Techeetah) and unintentionally came close to the contact driving Venturi driver Edoardo Mortara, who later retired with a puncture. In the end, Vandoorne was fifth. When asked if he would have approached the arguments carefully because of the lead, he replied: "Not 100 percent. We didn't get everything completely right today - both in qualifying and in strategy. In the end we got the points maximized. When I finish fifth on such a challenging day, I can't complain."
Highlight loop through the Olympic Stadium
Even without rain, the new 2.618-kilometer course on the 1988 Olympic site is considered challenging. In addition to the long, wide straights, there are several narrow, slippery passages. Above all, the oval-like section through the Olympic Stadium often resembled more rhythmic sports dancing for some. After contact with the wall, Oliver Rowland gave up his brief chase and finally let Evans go.
The unusually beefy pilot from the middle of England wanted to secure a reward for the hard work of his Mahindra team. "I didn't take any unnecessary risks, but from that point on I said to myself: You've failed often enough, let it be. Lucas di Grassi was already beaten and the physical strain was quite high." Addressed di Grassi, who will become Rowland's teammate next season, surpassed 1st place with the podium success.000 points mark and was satisfied with the outside despite losing places relatively quickly.
As the best German, Pascal Wehrlein finished the first Seoul race in 7th place. The Porsche driver started the race in fourth place, but was handed back due to a bad start. Wehrlein benefited from a good strategy in the small race to catch up. A departure from Alexander Sims (Mahindra) just before the end neutralized the final rounds.
Farewells, titles and weather
If the weather trend continues to improve, a historic end to the season awaits on Sunday. In addition to saying goodbye to the second generation of vehicles, the Mercedes star will also be visible on the grid for the last time. The chances of repeating the doubles title from 2021 are good. Vandoorne is 21 points ahead of Evans, the works team 31 points ahead of customer Venturi.
Mitch Evans remains hopeful after his glorious day in the booming Asian metropolis. "Can I get a one-two? Sure, I've done that before. I'm ready!" But Vandoorne was also ready to declare war, at least between the lines. "Of course I know that Mitch has what it takes to win both races. Me and the team have to do a good job."