Alex Lynn sparked wild celebrations in the Mahindra Racing garage as he steered to an emotional first ABB Formula E victory in Sunday’s second Heineken London E-Prix. Mercedes-EQ’s Nyck de Vries (pictured at left above, dueling with Lynn) and Mitch Evans (Jaguar Racing) rounded out the podium.
The decisive moment of the race took place with the pack released from a spell under the safety car on lap 13. At the double hairpin, Oliver Rowland (Nissan e.dams) made a move for the lead with a surprise lunge on Stoffel Vandoorne (Mercedes-EQ), who had led away from pole position.
A bump in the braking zone left the Nissan driver a passenger as he speared into the side of the Belgian’s Mercedes. The pair were left all tangled up, allowing de Vries to pick up the pieces and pinch second — and then first when Lucas di Grassi (Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler) leapt for the eight-minute 35kW Attack Mode power boost.
Heading into the final quarter hour, di Grassi had made the most of that boost to slice by de Vries into Turn 1. On the next tour, Lynn followed with what would ultimately be the race-winning move – the Mahindra driver also in Attack Mode. De Vries’ early dart for his second activation had not paid dividends, and he’d have to settle for second spot, while Evans picked his way through from fifth on the grid to an eventual third at the checkered flag.
Di Grassi had led on track for more than half of the race, and crossed the line first. However, the Brazilian was shown the black flag for failing to serve a drive-through penalty — he was deemed to have illegally taken the race lead by audaciously driving through the pit lane and crucially failing to come to a stop in his pit box, under safety car conditions on lap 12.
“It’s hard for words to be honest. It’s as special as it gets,” Lynn said of his breakthrough win. “I’ve never felt something like this. Formula E has been a difficult one for me so to win is very special. I’ve got a huge crew behind me that I have to thank. I get the pleasure of driving around their hard work, and I can tell you there isn’t a group of guys and girls that stay longer and wake up earlier than them. I honestly can’t believe this has happened. It’s incredible.”
— ABB FIA Formula E World Championship (@FIAFormulaE) July 25, 2021
Vandoorne fired off the line and cut across Rowland to defend into Turn 1 as the pack filtered through three wide – the Belgian pulling a gap of almost 1.5 seconds on the rest come the end of the opening lap.
De Vries had the hammer down too, with both Mercedes looking hooked up. The Dutchman got the jump on Lynn with an incisive move down at Turn 10 to take third on lap two, with Rowland’s Nissan in his sights.
Further down the field, the top two drivers in the standings came to blows at the same spot on lap four, with reigning champion Antonio Felix da Costa shoving Sam Bird’s Jaguar with an elbows-out pass for 18th as the pair scrapped hard for position.
Out front, Rowland was the first to make the jump for the first of two mandatory doses of Attack Mode, the power boost requiring a quick diversion off the racing line to activate. The Mercedes duo followed a lap later to counter.
With 35 minutes plus one lap to run, Rene Rast (Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler) and Sebastien Buemi (Nissan e.dams) made contact down at the switchback. The German fared worst, forcing the safety car into an appearance while his stricken Audi was recovered. Buemi survived to climb to 11th and the cusp of the points.
With the track cleared, the Mercedes driver seized the initiative. Vandoorne led Rowland and de Vries away, and the latter was able to jump by the Nissan in the middle of the Silver Arrow sandwich to take second – thanks to that extra lap of Attack Mode relative to Rowland.
Another appearance for the safety car followed on lap 11, with da Costa in the wall at Turn 1 after contact with Porsche’s Andre Lotterer. The Mercedes duo at the head of the pack did manage to sneak in their second Attack Mode activations just prior, crucially before Rowland this time.
Audaciously, on lap 12, Lucas di Grassi took a trip through the pit lane in a bid to take the lead. With the speed limit quicker than the pack was traveling, the 2016/17 champion slipped into first.
As the pack went racing once again on lap 13, drama ensued down at the double hairpin. Rowland made his move with a surprise lunge on Vandoorne for second spot. A bump in the braking zone left the Nissan driver a passenger as he speared into the side of the Belgian’s Mercedes. The pair were all tangled up, allowing de Vries to pick up the pieces and pinch second — and then first when leader di Grassi leapt for Attack Mode. Unsurprisingly, Rowland was slapped with a 10-second time penalty.
Heading into the final quarter hour, and di Grassi made the most of that 35kW boost to slice by de Vries into Turn 1 on lap 16. On the next tour, Lynn followed — the Mahindra driver also still wielding Attack Mode boost. De Vries’ early dart for his second activation had not paid dividends.
Outside the top three, it was Evans who was best of the rest though four seconds back from the trio at the front. Robin Frijns made his way by Guenther for fifth into Turn 1, going all the way around the outside of Guenther’s BMW. The Dutchman wasn’t done there, though, and set about hassling Evans for fourth. With his mirrors full of the purple Envision Virgin Racing machine, the New Zealander jumped for his second Attack Mode activation, but missed the loop and had to go again on lap 22 — allowing Frijns by.
The Kiwi atoned for his error in fine style down at the hairpin half a lap later with a textbook dummy on Frijns that took the Dutchman by surprise.
Bird had clambered his way up from 21st up to 11th and scented valuable points with Nato just ahead. The Briton sold the Frenchman the dummy before diving up the inside of the Venturi. Nato defended hard and the pair both ended up damaged and out of the running.
Di Grassi’s opportunistic trip through the pit lane wouldn’t stand, with the race leader penalized via a drive-through penalty for a safety car procedure infringement — meaning Lynn would inherit top spot and the race victory at the checkered flag, with di Grassi’s failure to serve his penalty.
UNSEEN FOOTAGE!@Lucasdigrassi almost pulled off an audacious move after nipping through the pitlane to grab the lead during a safety car period.
But it was ruled he didn't come to a stop before exiting the pit and was black flagged for declining a drive-through penalty. pic.twitter.com/DeXEI11K0V
— ABB FIA Formula E World Championship (@FIAFormulaE) July 25, 2021
De Vries followed Lynn home with Evans five seconds back rounding out the podium positions.
“I have to admit I’m a bit disappointed with P2,” said de Vries. “First of all, I feel sorry for my teammate (Vandoorne) — he deserved the win today if it wasn’t for Oliver Rowland taking him out.
“We were a bit unlucky with the safety car when we just activated the attack mode, that made me a little bit vulnerable after the restart. And then Lucas di Grassi was there which I was surprised to see because he shouldn’t have been there. At the end, the energy targets were so high, so I wasn’t able to get alongside him. I made quite a lot of mistakes trying to push but the targets were too high to ever be in a position to make a move.”
Robin Frijns came home fourth — having climbed the order from eighth — while Porsche’s Pascal Wehrlein and BMW i Andretti Motorsport’s Maximilian Guenther completed the top six.
The results leave de Vries atop the drivers’ championship heading into the final race weekend of Season 7 in Berlin in three weeks’ time, while Frijns moves up to second, just six points shy of the Dutchman and Bird slips to third in the standings.
Envision Virgin Racing still heads the way in the Teams’ running by seven points from Mercedes-EQ, with Jaguar Racing third.