Mercedes says goodbye to Formula E with both world championships. At the last appearance of the second generation of cars, Stoffel Vandoorne managed the 100th race of the series cleverly as usual and finished behind the winner Edoardo Mortara (Venturi-Mercedes). The winter break is going to be intense: Gen3 testing will soon pick up speed.
The incomplete has finally reached the goal of his (Formula E) dreams: After two difficult Formula 1 seasons and a lot of bad luck in his first Formula E years, Stoffel Vandoorne can finally call himself world champion. The GP2 title holder of 2015 also showed a clinically clean and consistent performance in the farewell race of his retiring employer and then summed it up as coolly as usual: "I was sure that Mercedes also had the right tools thanks to their Formula 1 experience, so that I could win the title can get. This season it was just my turn."
Vandoorne laid the foundation in qualifying. The two-time pole setter started the final run in Seoul's Olympic Park from fourth place. The last remaining competitor for the title, Mitch Evans (Jaguar), struggled right at the start and only placed 13th after coming into contact with the wall. The New Zealander needed a better miracle – or weather chaos.
Mass crash also on a dry track
Contrary to the early predictions, the dreaded major storms did not materialize by the end of the race, instead it was almost 30 degrees and the humidity was up to 90 percent. The sweaty racing suits were the most wet. Pole sitter António Félix da Costa (DS-Techeetah) initially went out as the leader after a relatively clean start. But just a little later, like the day before, there was a pile-up, but it produced scratched carbon instead of a car graveyard like on Saturday. A neutralization was therefore not necessary.
In the form of André Lotterer (Porsche), however, like the incident in race 1, the confusion found a well-known victim. After the 40-year-old had not found his position before the start and had to maneuver illegally, the damage sustained in the crash marked the end of a tough farewell weekend for the Weissacher works team. It is also unclear whether this is how his Formula E career will end. There are rumors about a place with the new Porsche customer Andretti Autosport. Officially, he has only driven one LMDh racer from Porsche so far.
After the brief chaos, Edoardo Mortara (Venturi-Mercedes) took the lead with a courageous manoeuvre, and Andretti driver Jake Dennis also slipped past Félix da Costa's gold and black DS. Vandoorne, meanwhile, probably watched the games in front of him in a relaxed manner. Given his fourth place and Evans' parallel ninth place, everything pointed to the title win early on.
With the first attack mode activations, the confrontation level on the 1988 Olympic site increased again. Porsche driver Pascal Wehrlein and the designated former world champion Nyck de Vries (Mercedes) collided in the first section of the course below the baseball stadium. Wehrlein, whose stranded car caused yellow flags for a long time afterwards, raged on the radio in a way that wasn't very youth-friendly and also took up the Dutchman's F1 ambitions: "I hope he doesn't make the leap into Formula 1 with this driving style."
De Vries, who is increasingly notorious as a part-time gambler, calmly explained in an interview with the journalist: "Before that, he was in attack mode and I let him go. I then expected the same respectful behavior from him, but he preferred to drive against me. We touched each other and I had a puncture afterwards." Responding to criticism, he said: "I didn't hear his words, but I don't really care what he said." Both let out some of their frustration after disappointing seasons.
Largely quiet ending
Similar to Saturday, the end of the season was largely lacking in action. At the front, the dominating Edoardo Mortara proved why he and his customer Mercedes were among the best combinations of the Gen2 era. His pursuer Jake Dennis underscored the same with the BMW customer team Andretti, which had set several exclamation points in season 8 despite greatly reduced support from Munich. However, the Briton still had to tremble for the podium on Sunday in Seoul after he received a rather harsh five-second penalty for contact with António Félix da Costa, who was actually overtaking, in the last third of the race. The Portuguese lost a number of places in the unfortunate encounter. Thanks to fast lap times, Dennis should only have to virtually let the future world champion Vandoorne go, who won two places in the course of the unsuccessful duel between the others.
At the beginning of the second half of the race, a crash by the third German in the field, Maximilian Günther (Nissan), triggered the only safety car phase of the final run. The man from the Allgäu, who was responsible for the initial rear-end collision due to his committed manoeuvre, suffered a puncture in a later duel with Lucas di Grassi (Venturi-Mercedes), which caused him to slip uncharmingly into the wall. Apart from the duel between Dennis and Félix da Costa, the restart did not trigger any serious changes.
Vandoorne: "More than just consistency"
Despite his greatest career success, Vandoorne didn't start a storm of jubilation. The Belgian saw no reason for that. "I'm calmer about things and I'm not a showman. I'm enjoying the moment and reflecting on the four-year journey to this goal." Whether Vandoorne, who likes to be described as an 'imperfect talent', has now been able to complete himself at the Olympic Stadium? "It feels like everything has now paid off. I always knew that I had the talent for it - even in the difficult phases of my career."
"I think I could have won more races if I hadn't been so deep in the championship fight. The focus on consistency came from there and it would have been stupid to throw away this starting position. In hindsight, that approach paid off." Vandoorne had only missed out on the points in Mexico, and only just. Finally, he announced that he would be able to defend the title.
Gen3: Short winter break for drivers and teams
Most drivers are now taking a well-deserved break for a few weeks. But before that, there are still various driver announcements. The first decisions should be published in the next few days. Among them are several prominent changes within the scene. There is also a bit of a hurry when planning the squad: the test program with the third vehicle generation will soon be massively expanded.
So there have already been shakedowns and a few test days, but the majority of the test drives the 350 kW racers were deliberately put into the "off-season". As of now, there is a lot to do. After the first functional tests, it was said that the challenging combination of standard parts and self-made components in the engine area largely worked , but the shared parts still lag behind expectations. Several manufacturer representatives were a bit annoyed about the problems that had arisen.
Stoffel Vandoorne probably doesn't think about such everyday worries at first. Although he clearly denied the role of the party animal, he was "looking forward to one, maybe several drinks with his troupe." However, with the final words, he could have caused the headaches that he hopes to be absent from the competition. The now perfect Mercedes champion grinned conspiratorially: "Next season I want to be even stronger." It begins in Mexico City in mid-January.