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Formula E at its finest in Jakarta

An enthralling Jakarta E-Prix showed the very best of Formula E, as the second half of the 2022 season started with a bang

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Formula E in 2022 has thrown up some sensational races but the inaugural Jakarta E-Prix might have been the best yet as Mitch Evans, Jean-Eric Vergne and Edoardo Mortara treated us to something spectacular.

Three drivers from three different teams, with nothing less than one second to separate them at the chequered flag. What more can you ask for?

Evans‘ phenomenal win makes up for his subpar Berlin weekend, whilst Vergne just missed out on victory again and Mortara made it a hat-trick of podiums.

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A Formula E classic

Apart from a single lap behind the safety car early on, due to Oliver Rowland‘s tyre falling off his car, the intensity of the race was incredibly high, as was the temperature which created a headache for the teams.

Managing the battery temperature, the level of regeneration to not overheat the battery, plus the tyres and energy management itself requires so much skill.

It’s difficult to put into words how difficult it is to optimise all of these pivotal factors whilst trying to drive a car in between walls at high speeds and going wheel to wheel.

This is what Evans, Vergne and Mortara did brilliantly as they all drove near-perfect races, and needed to, in order to have a chance of winning.

Mitch Evans (NZL), Jaguar TCS Racing, Jaguar I-TYPE 5 Edoardo Mortara (CHE), ROKiT Venturi Racing, Silver Arrow 02 Jean-Eric Vergne (FRA), DS Techeetah, DS E-Tense FE21

You could see how much it meant to Jaguar team principal James Barclay when Evans crossed the finish line, and the intensity on his face throughout the race.

“A double-points finish and a win for Mitch in what was a really strategic and challenging race today is fantastic result for the team,” said Barclay.

“It was incredibly close racing all the way through and required cool heads and a well-executed race and that is exactly what Mitch and the team delivered, I am very proud of everyone.”

Different strategies

Another factor that made the race so exciting was the three leaders went their own way with strategy, yet none of them got it badly wrong.

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Vergne went for his first attack mode early, which was very brave since he was in first place and normally the leader reacts to the drivers behind.

Mortara waited to use both of his attack modes in the second half of the race, whilst Evans was somewhere in the middle.

They all converged at the end of the E-Prix and it took a bold overtake from Evans to make the race-winning move.

From nowhere, he dived down the inside of Vergne at Turn 7 with seven minutes to go, catching the Techeetah driver by surprise. Those are the kind of overtakes which makes Formula E so exciting and Evans executed it beautifully.

Vergne must be regretting not covering the inside, but that’s where you have to give credit to Evans for his racecraft and ability to make such a difficult move stick.

Evans consistently had a tiny bit more energy than Vergne throughout the race, which he saved early in the race when running behind Antonio Felix da Costa and Vergne. He made great use of it with his outstanding overtake.

“That was hard,” said Evans. “I was happy just to be in it. We put a lot of work into the setup and systems and the team gave me the goods with a great car.

“I thought I was going to pull away when I overtook Vergne, but then my tyres started going off so I had to defend.”

How Evans got over the line

Like Evans said, the race wasn’t done when he took the lead. Everyone was right on the energy limit, given the intensity of the E-Prix and much the pace was being pushed.

Evans‘ rear tyres started to go off so he began to defend, but did so in the right places and ensured he didn’t lockup or go too wide when going off line.

Luckily for the New Zealander, Vergne was also defending as Mortara came alive in the closing stages.

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To have three of the top four in the championship fighting together heightened the tension in the lead battle and it all felt so much more genuine compared to previous seasons when the qualifying format created an unusual grid.

Fine margins

So what about the other title protagonists? Stoffel Vandoorne limited the damage with fifth place after posting the slowest lap time at the quarter-final stage of qualifying meaning he started eighth.

It’s the fifth time in seven events this has happened to Vandoorne, so he needs to understand why he’s struggling from the 220kw power that’s used in group qualifying, before switching to 25kw for the duels.

Mitch Evans (NZL), Jaguar TCS Racing, Jaguar I-TYPE 5

A mistake from Vandoorne saw him miss his second attack mode at the first time of asking, which cost him at least two precious seconds so he could have been a threat at the end of the E-Prix had he executed the perfect race because the Mercedes looked very efficient.

Vandoorne retains a slim five-point lead over Vergne with Mortara and Evans seven, and 12 points behind respectively.

Nyck de Vries‘ hopes of defending his title are slipping away as he failed to finish after contact with Andre Lotterer.

Even prior to the incident, De Vries was only on course for a top six at best as the pace just wasn’t there for the Mercedes driver.

“That was a disappointing result,” said De Vries. “There was no real problem. In fact, I even think we were quite quick in the race, although I wasn’t entirely happy with the car’s balance.

“But still, we were well placed to finish sixth or seventh. Unfortunately, there were two situations that dropped me down the field.

“In the end, I decided to try an overtaking manoeuvre on Andre and he hit my left rear tyre, causing serious tyre damage, so there was no point in continuing.

“I had a lot of bad luck in this race, but that’s just how it is sometimes. It’s all part and parcel of racing, so we have to accept it and keep going.”

As for Robin Frijns, who is now fifth in the championship and 40 points behind Vandoorne, a small mistake in qualifying at Turn 13 on his first run saw him hit the wall as he understeered wide.

The smallest of errors meant Frijns started at the back of the grid, where he had almost no chance of scoring points which proved to be the case as he finished down in 17th.

Perfection is needed to win in Formula E 2022, and sometimes even that’s not enough as a little bit of bravery and a smart head gave Evans and Jaguar their third win of the season.

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