This weekend, the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship returned to the country where it all began back in 2014 with the inaugural Shanghai E-Prix. Asian Motorsport reviews all the action from the first round of the weekend at the Shanghai International Circuit.

By Seb Tirado

Free Practice 1 & 2

A peculiar situation would occur just under 5 minutes into FP1 as Dan Ticktum, Pascal Wehrlein, António Félix Da Costa, Sérgio Sette Câmara and Nyck de Vries all came to a stop on track, bringing out the red flag. This would later be found to be caused by an issue from a shared software update from battery suppliers Williams Advanced Engineering. The session would then be extended by 25 minutes to make up for the lost time under the red flag. 

In the end, it would be Mitch Evans of Jaguar TCS Racing who would go fastest with a 1:13.215. Oliver Rowland would finish 5th with a 1:13.287, with his teammate in 21st with a 1:13.802 after being blocked on his final flying lap. Just ahead of Fenestraz would come Jehan Daruvala with a 1:13.754 and just behind him would come ERT’s Sette Câmara with a 1:13.806. Ticktum would finish up in 7th with a 1:13.392 and the Mahindras of de Vries and Edoardo Mortara would finish in 15th and 18thwith a 1:13.530 and a 1:13.641 respectively.

Jehan Daruvala after proceedings go underway again in FP1 | Credit: Formula E

FP2 on race day would see Norman Nato and Jean-Éric Vergne set identical fastest lap times of a 1:13.430. Fenestraz would improve to 6thwith a 1:13.552, just behind de Vries with a 1:13.550 who put in a slower lap time compared to FP1. Their teammates Rowland and Mortara would finish in 16th and 19th with a 1:13.756 and a 1:13.908 respectively. In-between would come the ERTs of Ticktum and Sette Câmara in 17th and 18th with a 1:13.821 and a 1:13.875 and Daruvala would again finish in 20th with a slower time of a 1:13.964 compared to FP1.

Qualifying

Group A would include Rowland, Ticktum, Daruvala and Fenestraz. Stoffel Vandoorne would go fastest with a 1:14.242 with Rowland progressing through in 2nd with a 1:14.252. Ticktum, Daruvala and Fenestraz would all be eliminated in 9th, 10th and 11th respectively and go on to qualify 18th, 20th and 22nd.

Group B would include de Vries, Sette Câmara and Mortara. Jake Hughes would top the group with a 1:14.140 and de Vries, Sette Câmara and Mortara would all be eliminated in 7th, 9th and 11th. De Vries and Mortara would qualify in 13th and 21st respectively and Sette Câmara would qualify in 17th to make it an ERT ninth row. 

Evans and Wehrlein would eliminate group leaders Vandoorne and Hughes from the quarter-final duels and Rowland would beat Nato in his duel with a 1:13.756. In the semi-finals, Rowland would beat Evans by the extraordinary margin of a single-thousandth of a second with a 1:13.358 whilst Vergne would eliminate Wehrlein in their duel.

Jean-Éric Vergne with his Pole Position Award | Credit: Formula E

In the end, Vergne would narrowly beat Rowland to Pole Position with a 1:13.322, taking his sixteenth career pole position.

Shanghai E-Prix

Like in the first race in Berlin, Formula E would reduce the total amount of Attack Mode to a total of 6 minutes.

Rowland would have a very slow start off the line as he immediately began to conserve energy. As a result, Wehrlein would get the jump on the Nissan driver as he and Vergne battled for the lead heading into T1 and the rest of the twisting first complex of corners. Elsewhere, the Mahindras would move up a few positions on the first lap as Daruvala and the ERTs fell back. On the next lap, they would all take their first Attack Modes along with both Nissans, all electing for a 2-4min strategy. 

The Porsches of Wehrlein and Da Costa would start to defend their 1-2 as Rowland continued falling further back into the slipstream of the peloton. On Lap 7, de Vries would take his second Attack Mode and start pushing his way through the pack, making his way into the top 10 by the start of Lap 8 when Rowland would take his own second Attack Mode. Heading into Lap 9, Vergne and Evans would manage to shuffle past both Porsches out of T12 and onto Lap 10. De Vries would also make his way up to 7th as Mortara activated his second Attack Mode.

Mitch Evans leading Pascal Wehrlein, António Félix Da Costa and Jean-Éric Vergne | Credit: Formula E

On Lap 10, the ERTs and Daruvala at the rear of the pack would take their second Attack Modes as de Vries and Rowland pushed their way to the front of the pack. Indeed, de Vries would take the lead heading out of T12 and onto Lap 11 with the Nissan driver behind him shuffling into 3rd. However, the Dutchman’s lead wouldn’t last long as he relinquished it a lap later to Wehrlein, with Rowland again falling back into the slipstream. Rowland would also start battling with Vergne heading through T1 and T2 on Lap 13 as his teammate Fenestraz took his second Attack Mode.

Now back in the pack, de Vries would start to effectively stay in the middle of the points-paying positions over the next few laps. On Lap 16, trouble would strike Mortara as he was hit by Sam Bird who was in turn hit by a locking-up Maximilian Günther, breaking his front wing and forcing him to retire from the race. Elsewhere, Evans would begin pressuring the two Porsches, eventually passing Wehrlein on Lap 23 as teammate Nick Cassidy overtook Da Costa for 4th. Now leading, Evans would start to defend against Wehrlein in a bid to help Cassidy move towards the front and to a possible 1-2.

On Lap 25, Rowland would lunge past de Vries for 6th heading through T1 and Cassidy would overtake Dennis for 3rd. Wehrlein would pass Evans heading through T12, albeit by cutting the corner in a move that would later be judged as intended to avoid a collision and therefore without sanction. Nevertheless, Evans would re-overtake Wehrlein around the outside of T6 on Lap 28 as Rowland opportunistically dove down the inside of Dennis for 5th. Rowland would similarly try to overtake Cassidy in the short dash out of T12 on the final lap but would ultimately fall short and finish in 4th

Mitch Evans atop the podium with Pascal Wehrlein and championship leader Nick Cassidy | Credit: Formula E

Evans would take his second win of the year ahead of Wehrlein and Cassidy, with the finish further solidifying the team’s dominant lead in the Teams’ Championship and allowing them to retake the lead of the Manufacturers’ Trophy. De Vries would finish 8th on the road but would be promoted a position after Da Costa was given a post-race 5-second time penalty for forcing Vergne off the track out of T12, dropping him to 19th. Fenestraz would ultimately finish in 11th, netting him the ABB Driver of Progress title after gaining 11 positions in the race. Daruvala would finish in 19th after a quiet race at the back of the pack.

Elsewhere, ERT would have a disappointing start to their home race weekend with Sette Câmara finishing in 13th and Ticktum finishing last of the running cars in 20th, only classifying ahead of Günther in 21st after he was given a 10-second time penalty for the earlier collision with Bird and Mortara. 

Formula E Drivers’ Championship Top 10

  1. Nick Cassidy (Jaguar) – 155
  2. Pascal Wehrlein (Porsche) – 142
  3. Oliver Rowland (Nissan) – 130
  4. Mitch Evans (Jaguar) – 122
  5. Jake Dennis (Andretti) – 113
  6. Jean-Éric Vergne (DS Penske) – 95
  7. Maximilian Günther (Maserati) – 65 
  8. António Félix Da Costa (Porsche) – 59
  9. Stoffel Vandoorne (DS Penske) – 45
  10. Sam Bird (McLaren) – 38

Formula E Teams’ Championship Top 5

  1. Jaguar TCS Racing – 277
  2. Tag Heuer Porsche – 201
  3. Nissan – 156
  4. DS Penske – 140
  5. Andretti – 137

Formula E Manufacturers’ Trophy

  1. Jaguar (Jaguar/Envision) – 306
  2. Porsche (Porsche/Andretti) – 296
  3. Nissan (Nissan/NEOM McLaren) – 214
  4. Stellantis (DS Penske/Maserati) – 199
  5. Mahindra (Mahindra/ABT Cupra – 33
  6. Electric Racing Technologies (ERT) – 23

The ABB FIA Formula E World Championship does it all again in Shanghai for Round 12 with the second race of the weekend.

Header image credit: Formula E

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