Stoffel Vandoorne continues to not put a foot out of line this season, as the Drivers’ Championship leader extended his lead after a brilliant second-place finish at the London E-Prix.
The Belgian driver had a solid Saturday at the ExCeL Centre, after claiming a second-place start for the first race of the weekend. Vandoorne converted his second-place start into a second-place finish, where he couldn’t quite get the better of race winner Jake Dennis. The Mercedes-EQ Formula E Team driver finished comfortably in second, with his team-mate Nyck de Vries rounding off the podium.
Whilst Vandoorne claimed his tenth consecutive points finish of the season, his title rivals faltered. Mitch Evans was the only one of the three other title contenders to finish in the points; however, the New Zealander could only salvage sixth. Edoardo Mortara and Jean-Éric Vergne finished outside the points, putting the pair almost out of realistic title contention.
Vandoorne was actually the only top-four driver in the standings to make it into the Qualifying duels, something he may be hoping will repeat itself on Sunday.
Following the race, Vandoorne spoke exclusively to The Checkered Flag, where he discussed the race and revealed that he “maximised everything”.
“It was a pretty good day, to be honest. Finished second, and with my closest rivals just being a little bit behind me, it’s obviously always good, especially getting towards the end of the year, but we can’t back anything down. There’s still three races left, there’s a lot of points possible to be scored and we just got to keep our head down and keep working hard.
“Tomorrow is a new race and everyone has the same chances again, so I don’t want to back it down, but on a day like today, I feel like we maximised everything. Jake [Dennis] was simply a little bit better than everyone today, and we had no answer to that.”
The Mercedes-EQ driver crossed the line just over two-seconds behind Dennis, Vandoorne only really had one opportunity to go for the lead but ultimately decided to play it safe. Vandoorne believes Dennis controlled the race “very well”, and that the Brit “destroyed” his only overtaking opportunity.
“I think in the first five, six, seven laps, maybe there was a possibility to have an attack. But actually, the thing is, in those first couple of laps, you’re kind of judging where a competitor is weak or where he’s strong. And I was literally trying to line-up an overtake, but it happened around the attack mode when Nyck [De Vries] started to take attack mode, and then obviously Jake [Dennis] realised that as well, so he took the attack mode and kind of destroyed my chances, let’s say, to really do an overtake or something. So he managed to race very well and I had no real opportunity.”
Vandoorne’s consistency is what’s seen him build a twenty-six point lead in the standings, as well as this, he has maintained relaxed and in-control, despite having the pressure of leading the championship.
The Belgian driver highlighted his consistency after the race to TCF. Vandoorne expressed how he’s “pushing the team to look for perfection” this season, with the Mercedes driver being on the verge of replicating what his team-mate achieved in 2021.
“Yeah, exactly. I think I’ve been extremely consistent this year, but there’s a lot of work that is going into that and be able to achieve that, it’s definitely not easy. The laps that I’m having to pull together and qualifying consistently is taking a lot of effort from everyone to try and nail the car, for me to put the car in that position.
“And, yeah, I’m committed until the end of the year to keep this level and pushing the team to look for perfection all the time. Sometimes it’s good for poles, sometimes it’s not, it’s good for victory or not, but if it’s not good enough, we got to be as close as possible.”
Sunday looks set to be an unpredictable day in the skies, with rain being reported for just before Free Practice 3 and potentially as the race is finishing. Rain would cause potential chaos during tomorrow’s race; however, it’s not something that has Vandoorne concerned.
“I can’t control it, so whatever happens, happens. London,” Vandoorne joked.