After taking second place in Round 13 in London, Mercedes-EQ's Stoffel Vandoorne extends his championship lead, pulling away from his closest rivals. With three races to go, the Belgian driver's chances of clinching his first ABB FIA Formula E World Championship title have increased but, with another race tomorrow, he won't take anything for granted, he insists.
"It was a pretty good race," says Vandoorne, casually as he steps out of the car after finishing second in Round 13, in London. "We had very good pace all day. It was a solid race and a good day for me in at a championship level and also for the team."
"Initially, I thought I had a chance to get by Jake (Dennis). He was managing the pace well at the beginning and I thought maybe he didn’t have the outright pace. I tried to have a look and the lap I did, Nyck (de Vries) went for ATTACK MODE and Jake realised and put the power down, which took away my chances a little bit."
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“It was a well-managed race by Jake and the same for us. I didn’t really have another chance and I just tried to manage my race in case he made a mistake but it’s a good day for us."
Since the start of the season, the Mercedes powertrain has worked well for both Mercedes-EQ's factory outfit and customer team ROKiT Venturi Racing. Carrying Vandoorne to the top of the standings, its also worked well for Venturi's Edoardo Mortara, who now sits third in the championship, 29 points adrift of Vandoorne.
"I've just been trying to be super consistent since the start of the year," he insists. "I think pretty much every race so far - apart from Mexico where I got a little tangled with Lucas [di Grassi] as in the last lap - I finished inside the top five. So that's been playing in my favour this year. I've only had one victory, which is Monaco.
"So I would definitely like to add a few more towards the end of the year. But it's a good day for the championship, especially when we qualify up the grid and when the closest competitors are not there - you just have to capitalise on it. So that's a kind of external pressure that comes as well."
Now with 173 points to his name, Vandoorne goes into Round 14 a full 26 points ahead of nearest rival Mitch Evans (Jaguar TCS Racing) and 29 points ahead of Mortara, who suffered damage at the start of the race, scuppering his chances of moving up into the points.
"I'm taking it race by race and trying to score as many points as possible. The closer we get towards the end, and if I keep performing as I have been, then it should be good but you can't take anything for granted.
"For me, finishing second today doesn't mean that we're going to replicate it tomorrow. We've just got to keep our heads down and keep working hard because tomorrow is going to be even harder with the experience they have all gained today.
“There’s always a lot of pressure and adrenaline involved whenever you start a race and the closer you get towards the end of the season with more at stake means you’re always expected to perform. It counts for a little bit more."