Don’t be put off by the fact that Techeetah’s Antonio Felix da Costa won today’s Monaco ePrix after scoring pole position—there were six passes for the lead during the event, and it was by no means a given that the reigning Formula E champion would pull off a victory. That he did is a testament to his skill after taking on a difficult field.
As you can imagine, the opening lap was a bit of a hot mess. Da Costa managed to pull away quickly, but behind him, there were several moments where drivers were running three wide on their way into the first turn. There was contact, and Mahindra’s Alexander Sims stopped on track on the exit of the hairpin. Several other cars crashed into his rear end, with one basically driving over a corner of his car; he managed to drive off into the pits and thus avoid a safety car, but his day was done.
Da Costa didn’t have it easy, though; just six minutes into the 45-minute race, Envision Virgin Racing driver Robin Frijns pushed past da Costa for the lead. Minutes later, da Costa had regained his position—but he didn’t hold it long. Frijns took the position back with 26 minutes remaining in the race.
Ten minutes later, Fanboost was officially awarded, which provides drivers with two minutes of extra power based on a fan vote. Da Costa was one of three drivers awarded Fanboost, but Frijns was not, which meant the latter used that extra boost to push past Frijns for the lead.
It was a smart move, because Mitch Evans was hot on their tail. Evans quickly caught up to Frijns and made a pass for second place—but within 30 seconds, Evans had also overtaken da Costa and secured the lead.
Had things proceeded smoothly from there, Evans might have easily locked up a win—but René Rast brought out a safety car just moments after Evans secured the lead. Rast had clipped the wall and stopped his Mahindra on the track. It was a bit of a long safety car, since it was a tricky spot to remove the car from, and the race went green with six minutes left on the clock.
Evans held out for the lead when the race went green, but the safety car meant that there were several drivers hot on his tail. Commentator Jack Nichols at one point referred to Evans’ Jaguar machine as “the widest Formula E car in the world” because of how expertly the New Zealander had managed to hold off da Costa’s repeated attacks with just 90 seconds remaining on the clock. Even making slight contact wasn’t enough to deter the two drivers battling for the lead.
As he began to run out of usable power, Evans slowed ever so slightly, allowing the top four cars to become bunched up. Da Costa’s teammate, Jean-Eric Vergne, had used Fanboost to jump from seventh position to fourth, and even he looked to have a shot at making a serious challenge for the lead.
With mere seconds left on the clock (and with a lap to follow the running out of the timer), points leader Nyck de Vries stopped on the track. Race officials opted to bring out a local yellow rather than a safety car to keep the action going, which meant Evans was going to have to battle it out to the very end.
On the final lap, da Costa attempted to push past Evans at every significant braking zone and couldn’t make it stick—until the very last braking zone before the finish line. Evans, at that point, was so low on power that he was forced to slow down, which meant Robin Frijns managed to pass him for second place just before the finish line.
It was a truly stunning race, and one that Formula E can be proud of after some unfortunate mishaps (like half of the drivers running out of usable power) at a few of its previous events. The electric cars outshined Formula One at the latter's most iconic venue by putting on an exceptional event.
Top 10 Finishing Order
- Antonio Felix da Costa
- Robin Frijns
- Mitch Evans
- Jean-Eric Vergne
- Maximilian Gunther
- Oliver Rowland
- Sam Bird
- Nick Cassidy
- Andre Lotterer
- Alex Lynn