By sportswriter Michael Butterworth
MONACO, May 11 (Xinhua) -- Jean-Eric Vergne became the first driver to win multiple races in the 2018-19 Formula E season after taking a lights-to-flag victory in this afternoon’s Monaco ePrix.
The DS Techeetah driver led the field away from pole position and withstood heavy pressure from a charging Oliver Rowland in the latter stages of the race to take his second win of the season.
At the start, it was the Mahindra of Pascal Wehrlein who took the fight to Vergne, though the German blotted his copybook on lap 9 when he ran wide at T1, slipping back to fourth behind Rowland’s Nissan and the Venturi of Felipe Massa.
The early stages of the race proceeded without much in the way of further incident, as the shortened version of the Circuit de Monaco lived up to its reputation of being a difficult track to overtake on, though Sam Bird and Lucas Di Grassi notably passed Stoffel Vandoorne and Alex Lynn on consecutive laps to move up into eighth and ninth places.
With the drivers appearing increasingly emboldened to overtake as the race went on, lap 29 saw the first retirement, as Maximillian Gunther’s Dragon stopped on track with damage, instigating a brief full-course yellow as marshals cleared the wreckage. Two laps later, Di Grassi was also out, having been shunted into the barriers at T3 by an unsighted Alex Sims. Edoardo Mortara, Oliver Turvey, Robin Frijns and Sam Bird also failed to finish the race.
“I’m extremely happy and it’s an incredible feeling,” said Vergne afterwards. “The race was pretty much under control. I could push and create a big enough gap, and at the end it was just a case of staying on track and finishing the race, though I think the team was a bit stressed!”
The podium positions were filled by Rowland and Massa, with the Brazilian happy to have scored his first top-three finish in Formula E after a difficult start to the season. Wehrlein, Sebastien Buemi, Antonio Felix da Costa, Mitch Evans, Daniel Abt, Andre Lotterer and Alex Lynn rounded out the points-paying positions.
Vergne's win sees him take the lead in the Formula E drivers’ championship with 87 points. Teammate Lotterer stays second with 82 points, with his ninth place finish in Monaco representing a good recovery drive after a troubled qualifying session had seen him start the race at the rear of the pack. Following his retirement in Monaco, Frijns slips to third on 81 points.
In the team’s standings, DS Techeetah remain top with 169 points, followed by Virgin on 135 points, and Audi, who have 133.
The next round of the 2018-19 Formula E championship is in Berlin on May 25.