Vergne’s tactics pay off to land Cape Town’s Formula EE podium

The Cape Town track, specially laid out on public roads for this first E-Prix, was new to everyone. In addition to the work on the simulator, the circuit was explored on foot, a very instructive moment before the first test session when everyone was able to get a more accurate idea of ​​the layout and the demands there.

“I had seen things in the Simulator, for example the bumps, which are reproduced well, but there is always an element of surprise,” said DS Penske driver Vergne. “And then in the simulator, when you take a corner too fast and hit a wall, you start over.”

In the heart of the South African city, on the fastest urban road of the season where average speeds exceeded 150 km/h and where the cars reached 230 km/h at top speed. Not bad for a city circuit with road signs and manhole covers!

Sebastien Buemi, Edoardo Mortara and Sam Bird would pay the price for getting it out in a rather violent manner. This was also the reason why some of the drivers were on the back foot during practice and before qualifying.

“I didn’t feel the car too much, so I’d rather be careful,” said Vergne. “I really started to take risks in qualifying, where it was important to preserve the car.”

Jean-Eric-Vergne, DS Penske

Jean-Eric-Vergne, DS Penske

Photo by: DPPI

In Group 1, the two championship-leading Porsches were also back in contention, but Antonio Felix Da Costa missed out on the final stage. Vergne got the job done and found himself in the quarter-finals against the Nissan of Sacha Fenestraz who was in great form and went on to claim his Formula E starting pole position.

In Group B, Porsche and DS Penske did not fare so well, as the session ended under a red flag. Stoffel Vandoorne, who had just set the fastest time in the first sector, might regret it, as he would only be 12th with his teammate Vergne in 5th.

Experience is the mother of wisdom

On such a complex track, where every mistake can be very costly, above all it is the correct measurement of the risks and the energy strategy that allows drivers to score points. In this regard, Vergne was once again dominant, as was his former partner da Costa at the wheel of a factory Porsche. Since the beginning of the season, DS Penske has been the only team that has shown an answer to the German manufacturer, and the expected battle took place in South Africa indeed.

After taking the lead in the E-Prix, Vergne found himself with da Costa in his rear-view mirror, with the latter still to attack. It was a game of cat and mouse for the last few laps of the race, in front of a crowd that was large in number and who were delighted to see the spectacle.

The daring Da Costa finally got away after a dangerous maneuver and in doing so took his first win with Porsche after starting from 13th.

Jean-Eric-Vergne, DS Penske

Jean-Eric-Vergne, DS Penske

Photo by: DPPI

Vergne’s strategy still paid off for second place and he also scored the fastest lap of the race.

“Of course, I would have preferred to win, but I am happy with the result,” said the French driver. “Tony was very aggressive, and I chose to keep a cool head, especially because I didn’t see him in my mirrors when he started to overtake me.

“If I had pushed him off the wall, he could have hit him, bounced off, and put us both out of the game. I think if we both didn’t have a lot of experience in motorsport, it could have ended badly.”

After a very busy start to the season with rounds every two weeks since mid-January, the Formula E world championship teams have a month to prepare for the next round.

The championship will take them to an unknown circuit again, this time in the city of São Paulo (Brazil), for round six on March 25.

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