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    Santiago 2020: Bittersweet outcome.

Nyck and Stoffel in the Top 6.

One month after the Mercedes-Benz EQ Formula E Team’s successful debut in the season opener hosted by Saudi Arabia, the team came up against a set of completely different challenges in the 2020 Antofagasta Minerals Santiago E-Prix.

The race at the Parque O’Higgins circuit in the Chilean capital is one of the hottest E-Prix of the year, and with air and track temperatures hovering around 34°C and 39°C respectively, this iteration would prove to be no exception.

Over and above the difficult track conditions, a multitude of wheel-to-wheel encounters ensured an action-packed third race of the season, in which the team registered two more Top Ten finishes.

Race_Results_Santiago_E-Prix
Driver FP1 FP2 Qualifying Super Pole Race
#5 S. Vandoorne

P18

1:05.783

30 Laps

P11

1:05.586

14 Laps

P8 (Q2: P2)

1:05.560

2 Laps

-

P5

Grid: P8

FL: 1:07.395

#17 N. de Vries

P12

1:05.506

28 Laps

P14

1:05.899

11 Laps

P9 (Q1: P1)

1:05.566

2 Laps

-

P6

Grid: P9

FL: 1:07.311

 

Nyck de Vries on track in Santiago

Nyck de Vries: Best Formula E race result to date.

After 40 race laps, equivalent to 91.48 kilometres, there was a dramatic sprint to the finish line which culminated in Nyck de Vries overtaking Mitch Evans’ Jaguar on the home straight and apparently earning his first podium appearance in Formula E

But the joy was to be short-lived. “Although I crossed the finish line in third place, I was ultimately ranked fifth,” said Nyck ruefully. Despite the disappointment, he was accentuating the positive aspect of his fifth place: “All in all, it was a good race.”

Nyck went into one of the hottest races of the season from eighth place on the grid. The Dutchman improved by five positions over the course of the E-Prix and took the chequered flag in third place after an exciting finish: “Unfortunately, I then got a penalty, which is a pity.” This dropped him down to fifth place.

The reason for the five-second penalty was a breach of the regulations relating to battery temperature. “Without a doubt, we made a mistake with cooling the battery on Nyck’s car,” said team principal Ian James. “That compromised his sublime driving today. This is something we have to work on going forward.”

But apart from that setback, Nyck had an eventful yet strong race: “I didn’t have the best of starts on the inside, but I was able to limit the damage. After that, I managed to stay calm in the early stages of the race and benefit from some of the other drivers’ mistakes. My pace was good, and I was able to fight my way forward through the field.”

Despite the time penalty, Nyck’s fifth place was still the best result of his budding Formula E career. After his first three races in the electric racing series, the rookie finds himself in eleventh place overall on 18 points. 

Stoffel Vandoorne
Stoffel Vandoorne looking at the Merceds-Benz EQ Silver Arrow 01

Stoffel Vandoorne: Three races and three points finishes.

Stoffel enjoyed a strong weekend in the season opener in Saudi Arabia with two podium finishes, which meant that he arrived in Chile occupying second place in the drivers’ championship. One consequence of this was that he was obliged to line up in the first qualifying group.

However, the Belgian made the best of the situation, setting a clear best time in his group. “Qualifying went well for us, even though we didn’t make it into the super pole,” said Stoffel. “Realistically speaking, we had been expecting that to some extent all along. The important thing is that I was the fastest in my qualifying group by a big margin and we were able to start among the Top 10.”

Stoffel went into the race from ninth position and was involved in his fair share of the hard-fought duels right from the start: “That was a tough and highly eventful race for me. My car was clattered into from all sides and afterwards didn’t drive one hundred percent straight. Consequently, it was very difficult to keep it going all the way to the finish. But I’m glad that I managed to do that, because there were a lot of incidents today.” 

Ian James was full of praise for Stoffel’s battling performance: “Stoffel also did a solid job out on the track. I am proud that he’s now leading the drivers’ standings.” With three out of the 14 races in the 2019/20 season now complete, Stoffel (38 points) leads the overall standings by a three-point margin over Alexander Sims (35 points).

“It’s important for us to have scored decent points again,” said Stoffel. “That’s what matters in this championship. Maybe we lost a few points today, but now we need to look ahead and do better in the next race.”

Incidentally, Stoffel also holds the lead in another classification: in Santiago, he secured the biggest fan-boost vote for the third time in a row. Nyck, too, had the benefit of additional power from the fan voting in all three races of the season so far. 

Ian James in the box
Nyck de Vries, Gary Paffet, Stoffel Vandoorne walk the track

Momentum carried forward from a gratifying season opener.

After the unexpectedly solid opening weekend in Diriyah, the outcome of the race in Chile proved to be a bittersweet one for the team. Ultimately, though, and despite the penalty for Nyck, the positives outweighed the negatives, specifically the respectable points tally from Top Ten finishes in all three races contested so far and the second double points finish for the driver duo in the team history.

“I am happy that we managed to finish in P5 and P6, which was completely in line with our objectives,” said Ian James. “We’re on the right track as a team, and I’m glad we’ve built on what we started in Riyadh. Fortunately, this is reflected in the current team standings.” In this classification, the Mercedes-Benz EQ Formula E Team (56 points) lies currently in second position, four points behind BMW i Andretti Motorsport (60 points).

“The team did very well under the extreme conditions we had today,” added Ian James. “We gained a lot of information, and as soon as we’re back home, we will continue to improve.”

The team won’t have much time to catch their breath. The third race weekend of the team’s debut season (15th February) is already looming on the calendar. The next stop on the itinerary is the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City, where the fourth round of the season will present the team with new challenges.

"We Drive the City" hashtag in Santiago
EQC on a street in the forrest

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