Rowland races to ABB Driver of Progress in Monaco

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Rowland races to ABB Driver of Progress in Monaco

A drive marked by improvisation netted Oliver Rowland the ABB Driver of Progress Award in the 2024 Monaco E-Prix, as a strong points finish kept him in the hunt at the top of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship standings.

Rowland Monaco Season 10 Nissan

After a strong recent run of form, which would have been five consecutive podiums but for last-gasp heartbreak in Misano, Rowland qualified in an uncharacteristically lowly position well down the grid in Monaco as both Nissan drivers struggled to maximise their pace over their Groups and Duels quali laps.

Starting 15th was Rowland’s worst grid position since the season opener but he did not waste any time moving forward in the E-Prix. Rather than wait for the race to come to him, Rowland opted for a more aggressive strategy – to make ground up as quickly as possible, then find a balance between speed and energy management later in the race. Diving inside Mahindra Racing's Nyck de Vries at Sainte Devote on the opening lap set the tone for a rapid rise from 15th to sixth in the first 10 laps!

Rowland Monaco position progression

In that spell, which was punctuated by a Safety Car for the recovery of Edo Mortara's Mahindra which smashed into the wall in a big way at Swimming Pool, Rowland was regularly one of the fastest drivers on track. It did not come at a monstrous energy cost, but he inevitably had a deficit early on that would need addressing at some point.

Compared to race leader, DS PENSKE's Stoffel Vandoorne, for example, Rowland was already 1% down on battery state of charge by lap five, and 2% worse off than the Jaguar TCS Racing cars by Lap 10. That came from consistently using upwards of 3% battery a lap, whereas the Jaguars were regularly 0.5% better off at the front.

Monaco Season 10 energy consumption

By the time Rowland had moved into sixth, he was looking at a deficit with the potential to swing the race away from him towards the end. This was especially clear given his retirement in Misano.

But to Rowland's credit, having earned track position, he committed to a phase of the race with stricter energy management. From Lap 10 to Lap 15 he was more conservative, and avoided wild fluctuations in his battery usage. Rowland did well to keep in touch with the lead group he had joined while using less battery in this spell, which brought him back about on terms with median energy levels.

From there, Rowland was one of the most effective non-Jaguar drivers, who were playing a clever strategy out front as Mitch Evans extended his lead while Nick Cassidy backed the field up slightly before reversing those roles (and Evans eventually winning).  

READ MORE: How Jaguar played the team game to finish one-two in Monaco

The Nissan simply did not look as effective or as efficient as the pace-setting Jaguars at this track but Rowland compared well to the likes of Vandoorne and Maserati MSG driver Maximilian Guenther, plus Porsche pair Pascal Wehrlein and Antonio Felix da Costa. 

RACE HIGHLIGHTS: 2024 Monaco E-Prix, Round 8

This meant he was firmly in the lead pack of cars to the finish, which was dominated by an intense multi-driver battle that put a premium on wheel-to-wheel fighting and racecraft over who had tiny energy surpluses or deficits.

Rowland did well on both counts, and the move that eventually guaranteed sixth ahead of da Costa – having also swapped places with Guenther several times – was particularly imaginative as he mugged him round the outside at Rascasse.

The Safety Car interruptions meant a big push to the finish ensured, with energy consumption rocketing to above 4% a lap, something that would have eaten Rowland up without the mid-race reset that brought him back in line with his immediate rivals.

Jaguar's team game

Evans had led four prior Monaco E-Prix without converting the win, and had made three prior visits to the podium - more than any other driver - this one at the jewel in motorsport's crown had to stick.

The pair hit the front - Evans from Cassidy - on Lap 11, jumping the DS PENSKE of Stoffel Vandoorne who had made it by polesitter and the race's initial leader Pascal Wehrlein (Porsche) in the early stages.

RESULTS: The 2024 Monaco E-Prix Round 8

From there, the team's strategy looked clear with Evans bolting to a three-second gap at the front and Cassidy holding station to back up the pack, allowing Evans to take ATTACK MODE and retain clear air in P1 - the duo navigating an early Virtual Safety Car for the recovery of Edo Mortara's Mahindra, which hit the wall in a big way at Swimming Pool.

On Lap 14 at just about the half way stage of the 31-lap encounter, Evans took his second 50kW ATTACK MODE boost, giving up the lead to Cassidy, while returning the favour to keep the pack at bay. The team's tactics working just as intended.

The Jaguars looked to be a couple of percent to the good on usable energy compared to the DS PENSKEs behind, while Evans held a 0.5% advantage over Cassidy. On Lap 17, Evans retook P1 from his teammate and from there, that was that - measured to perfection and a first Monaco win for both Evans and Jaguar TCS Racing - at last - and a one-two to boot, the team's second in Formula E.


As it stands

Reigning champion Jake Dennis could only manage 18th on the grid after another disappointing qualifying session that Andretti will be keen to get a handle on as the season now crosses its half-way point.

As ever, that didn't keep the Brit down and he set about scrapping back through the pack - making it as far as ninth position on Lap 10. However, his progress would come to a swift end in contact with Frijns in the Tunnel - an unusual accident but that turn tightens deceptively. A broken front wing required a pit-stop, demoting Dennis to the back of the pack.

That said, he still heads the way in ABB Driver of Progress, though it's now Rowland just a point behind with Ticktum impressing and arguably outdriving the ERT beneath him in its current guise.