London E-Prix 2 – After multiple rain delays, Nick Cassidy won from pole to give Envision victory in the Teams’ Championship.
While there were spits of rain during qualifying the heavens had opened in London so things will be very tricky for the drivers to tackle the mix of wet and dry with the outdoor/indoor nature of the track.
As there isn’t a warm up lap in the series and no opportunity for the drivers to get a feel for the conditions, Formula E decided that the most sensible call would be to have two laps completed behind the Safety Car, to give the drivers a chance to see what they have to deal with, and then have a standing start.
Given the conditions were awful, Race Control decided on an additional Safety Car lap. At the end of the third lap the Safety Car ducked back into the pit lane and Nick Cassidy led the cars back to the start/finish straight and just as everyone was about to head for their grid boxes, the Race Director, Scot Elkins aborted the standing start and put the Safety Cat back out.
Sam Bird in P6 reported the conditions had worsened with Jake Dennis saying it was unraceable. At the end of lap 5 the race was Red Flagged with Elkins explaining that the reports he had were that the rain should lessen in ten minutes and he’d send the sweepers out to try to clear some of the standing water.
Bird explained in the break that while the Hankook tyres they have are classed as all-weather tyres, the three grooves they have don’t really do much for water dispersion so the drivers are pretty much just aquaplaning the whole time.
Dennis called it the worst conditions he’d ever driven in and despite the fact he had nothing to lose today it was too bad to race in especially given how many painted lines there are on the circuit which get very slippery when wet.
There was an interesting alternative race being thought up by the DS Penske and ABT Cupra drivers, Jean-Eric Vergne suggesting they race the Safety Cars, the idea being very similar to Extreme E, if they could find 11 Safety Cars then each team could have one and the drivers share driving duties.
Out on track the sweepers and sweeping brushes were out but rain was still falling.
Lucas di Grassi’s idea for how to solve issues like this was that the cars get four wheel drive, like the GENBETA car that he and Jake Hughes used to set a new indoor land speed record, and it would be an easy software change on the Gen3.
The race was then announced to resume at 5:45pm, 33 minutes after the Red Flag was thrown and while that was happening, Antonio Felix da Costa headed into the Andretti garage to borrow a visor off Dennis.
The cars headed back out on track with the Safety Car set to lead them around for two laps. It wasn’t announced yet whether it would be a standing or rolling start but the two laps instead ended with a Red Flag again as driver feedback was that the conditions weren’t good enough yet. The rain had gotten slightly heavier as the cars headed out and Elkins said the information he had was that it would be another 10 or 15 minutes before things improved.
As the cameras showed the rain had mostly stopped outside, inside the McLaren drivers had found a mini golf set with a crocodile to aim for, while ABT Cupra were all at the front of their garage swaying along to Sweet Caroline.
The race was announced to get going once again at 6:30pm. And so the cars filed out of the pitlane, to great cheers from the crowd, for yet another scheduled two laps behind the Safety Car before a start of some sorts.
The Safety Car retreated to the pitlane at the end of the two exploratory laps and the race finally got underway with a rolling start on lap 8. On the first racing lap in rain, Cassidy had a bit of a slide but held it while Vandoorne and Bird in P5 and P6 were the first to head to the Attack Mode zone to activate two and six minutes respectively.
The next lap saw more of the leading drivers take their first activations, and on lap 10 the top eight were all in the higher power mode, Cassidy still leading ahead of Evans while Dennis had moved ahead of Nato for P3. The Kiwis though had pulled a gap to the rest of the pack and had over four seconds over the new champion.
After starting P9, Dan Ticktum had fallen back to P11 but he started a charge on lap 14 which saw him get down the inside of Edoardo Mortara and then pass Pascal Wehrlein to make it back to his starting spot.
Cassidy took his final six minutes of Attack on lap 15, everyone getting through their deployments early on, Evans having used all of his, and Dennis took his last two minutes around the same time as the Envision driver.
There was a big queue of cars all nose to tail at the back of the field with di Grassi, Vergne and da Costa among them and all fighting hard, with slight contact, over P16.
At the end of lap 21 Vergne headed to the pits for a tyre change after losing out to di Grassi and da Costa. He emerged not too far ahead of Cassidy and then dropped a lap down on the 30th lap.
While Evans was two and a half seconds behind Cassidy, the other Envision/Jaguar battle, for P6, had Buemi get the better of Bird. The Brit initially kept right on the back of his rival, looking for a way through but did then fall back a bit.
Evans did manage to take a second out of the gap to the leader but Cassidy then picked up the pace to bring things back to two seconds. On lap 32 it was announced that there would be four additional laps so the race would run to a total of 38 laps.
In the final few laps Cassidy and Dennis swapped fastest laps, Evans unable to compete with them and had fallen back from the leader, though he was safe with a ten second buffer to Dennis. In the end Cassidy took the chequered flag almost five seconds ahead of Evans while Dennis took the final podium spot and the fastest lap, a 1:21.554, on the last lap.
Nato finish P4 ahead of Vandoorne while Buemi remained in P6 ahead of Bird. Mueller brought home more points for ABT in P8 while the final points places went to Ticktum and Wehrlein.
That all means that Envision win the Teams’ Championship ahead of Jaguar while Andretti also eclipsed their supplier to finish P3. In the Drivers’, while Dennis was already confirmed as champion, Cassidy managed to get back past Evans to take the runner up place.
After the normal podium the three drivers took a few minutes break before heading back for the Championship podium. The Andretti mechanics ecstatic below the podium and chanting their version of Yellow Submarine chorus with the lyrics altered to “We all live in a red and white machine”.