• New York City 2022: Hard work earns its just reward

Motorsport is a team sport, and there could be no better demonstration of this than was delivered by the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship double-header last weekend in New York City. The drivers may be sitting all alone in their cockpits but beavering away in the background are dozens of team members whose job it is to ensure that the setups, strategies and procedures are flawlessly implemented. And sometimes they are even called on to perform Herculean tasks, as was the case in the few short hours between Race 1 at the Brooklyn Circuit on Saturday and the third Free Practice session on Sunday morning, when they worked against the clock to get Stoffel Vandoorne's badly damaged Silver Arrow 02 roadworthy again. But let's start at the beginning...

Stoffel Vandoorne repays team effort

The third-to-last race weekend of Season 8 started promisingly for Stoffel Vandoorne. He qualified third in his qualifying group for the duel stage and advanced to the final, where he missed out on pole position by a mere eight thousandths of a second.

And in the race, too, it looked for a long time as if he were set for a podium appearance. But then, around ten minutes before the end of the race, the rain started to come down more heavily, leaving standing water on the track in some places and causing the entire leading group of the E-Prix, including Stoffel, to skid off the track and straight into the barrier. 

Stoffel had earlier worked his way back up to second place after a poor start: "Unfortunately, the race ended badly with a big crash. I aquaplaned and just lost control. A pretty dramatic end to the race, quite frankly. It's not how I wanted it to finish, but that's the way it is."

Stoffel Vandoorne sitting in the cockpit of his mercedes-eq silver arrow 02

Although Stoffel and his fellow drivers survived the mass pile-up uninjured, his car took considerable damage. Consequently, the crew were obliged to work through the night to get the number 5 Silver Arrow 02 ready to race again on Sunday, a job which they managed to complete thanks to excellent teamwork and pure dedication.

Team Principal Ian James: "They worked right up to curfew to prepare for scrutineering at 05:30 this morning and ensure that we could make the start of FP3." The crew had to change the chassis and install a different power unit. But that was not all: after the third practice, part of Stoffel's car had to be disassembled again to replace a faulty wiring loom.

silver arrow after crash

But the team's hard work paid off. In qualifying, Stoffel again made it into the duel stage, and in the race, he quickly progressed to third place with a lightning start. Just under 20 minutes before the end of the race, he pulled off a strong overtaking manoeuvre against Alexander Sims and moved up to P2. He then fought a tense duel with Antonio Felix da Costa for the win, which resulted in second place at chequered flag after 39 laps of racing and a ninth consecutive points finish of the current season.

"Second place is a great result," said Stoffel afterwards. "All in all, the whole weekend here in New York City went well for us in terms of results, with a P4 yesterday and P2 today. Especially after what happened yesterday with that big crash in the first race. The team had to change the chassis and rebuild a full new car overnight - but they gave me a good one again today. Many thanks to the whole team for their efforts - this result is for them."

Stoffel Vandoorne ceremony

Nyck de Vries scores valuable points on both days

For Nyck, Saturday's prematurely terminated first race ended with a P10. However, due to two time-penalties for other drivers, he subsequently moved up to P8.

"That was a very eventful race which ended abruptly and in an extremely aggressive manner because of the rain," said Nyck. "Our race went fairly well. I felt I was quite competitive and fast at the start of the E-Prix but was losing some of my edge towards the end. I was probably a little too conservative once the rain began to fall. At least we got some points out of this race. We might have stayed up front had we been slightly better placed in qualifying. Still, we'll get another chance tomorrow."

Nyck de Vries in the race

No sooner said than done. Nyck came through the group stage in qualifying in third place and progressed to the quarter-finals. Although he then started the race from seventh on the grid, he quickly gained three positions to advance to P4.

This early progress developed into a thrilling duel with Mitch Evans as well as a couple of determined attacks on Alexander Sims in the fight for the third place on the podium. However, Nyck lost control of his car on a manhole cover during one of his overtaking attempts, caught the barrier a glancing blow and subsequently lost places to the pursuing pack. Eventually, he crossed the finish line in P7 with his car visibly showing damage.

"The fight was good, though obviously I am disappointed it didn't play out," said Nyck. "That bump in the track surface is quite dangerous, and it took me by surprise - I lost control of the car, and that was it. Afterwards, my steering was bent and I couldn't keep up as easily as before."

Nyck de Vries in pitlane

Apart from that, however, he was happy with the race: "I think it was a well-executed race from the team and the pace was strong. Still, I'm disappointed that I couldn't score more points for the team, which is definitely what they deserved."

That's because he, too, had to put in an extra shift between FP3 and qualifying to change several elements on the car, including the battery, in a short space of time after hitting the barrier. Ian James summed up the nature of the challenge: "So that meant 2½ rebuilds in just over 12 hours. A phenomenal achievement by the team!"

Ian James

Mercedes-EQ Formula E Team back on top

The hard work paid off, however, and was rewarded with more than just three points-scoring finishes and a podium this weekend. Stoffel (155 points) now leads the Drivers' Championship again after the twelfth of sixteen races in the current campaign. He holds an eleven-point lead over second-placed Edoardo Mortara (144 points). Nyck (83 points) is meanwhile in eighth place.

"So far, we've been on a very good run," adds Stoffel. "But the competition is super strong. It all comes down to small details, and we've got to keep on top of them."

The Mercedes-EQ Formula E Team (238 points) fought its way back to the top of the Team Championship in New York City, which it now leads by ten points over Venturi Racing (228 points).

silver arrow on track in New York

Ian James: "We will now keep the momentum going and hit London and Seoul with the same mindset and determination as we have approached all the other events this year. There are only four more races to go in this world championship season, and we've got one hell of a fight ahead of us."

The racing action resumes in just two weeks' time (30 and 31 July) when the next two rounds of the 2021/22 ABB FIA Formula E World Championship take place in London.

Ian James

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