Mitch Evans scores clutch win in Seoul to take title race down to the wire

Seoul E-Prix winner Mitch Evans sprays champagne in front of third-place Lucas di Grassi (Formula E)

Mitch Evans took the lead on the opening lap in Seoul from his third place starting spot and never looked back. His victory in the first round of the Hana Bank Seoul E-Prix keeps his title hopes alive, in reach of championship leader Stoffel Vandoorne.

Evans passed pole-sitter Oliver Rowland after the Mahindra driver struggled to get grip at the start, before securing the lead with a pass on ROKiT Venturi’s Lucas di Grassi on the outside of the third turn. A massive collision further back in the field caused by more wet conditions on the first lap led to a 45-minute stoppage, but Evans drove away even further following the restart.

With the win, Evans now sits 21 points behind Mercedes’ Stoffel Vandoorne. They’re the only two drivers in with a shot of winning, as third place Edoardo Mortara did not score points. There are 29 possible points to score in a single Formula E race, so it’s certainly possible for Evans to win.

Jaguar’s Mitch Evans took the lead from ROKiT Venturi Racing’s Lucas di Grassi with an outside pass on the opening lap (Formula E)

“This is what we needed, we don’t give up, so we go to tomorrow and keep fighting,” said Evans. “Can I do the double? That’s the plan, I’ve done it before – let’s do it again.”

“It has been a lot of work since London to make sure we can make this result possible,” he added. “This morning was tricky, we didn’t quite have the pace, but then the rain came at the right time – I qualified at the front – and had a good start. The race was really hard to manage, the conditions change all the time, so thanks to the team for guiding me through.”

Vandoorne did gather points with a solid fifth-place finish, but his gap has shrunk and he’s facing an opponent who knows how to win both rounds of a doubleheader: Evans did so earlier this year in Rome.

Evans went on to lead every lap of the Seoul E Prix (Formula E)

Oliver Rowland went on to finish second, crossing the line three seconds behind Evans, after starting from pole.

“I can’t really ask for much more, it has been a difficult season,” the Mahindra driver said. “Obviously getting the Pole Position and the points is fantastic for the team. We knew this year was going to be difficult, my first with the team, but we are pushing really hard for next year and I am glad to give the whole team and these fans a great result.”

Third-place finisher Lucas di Grassi celebrated his own milestone after scoring 1000 career points with his 39th podium. Tomorrow will be the 100th Formula E race since the series was founded, and di Grassi will be the only driver to have competed in all 100.

“It is a really big honor to race here, amazing place, amazing fans – thanks everybody,” said a euphoric di Grassi. “We did our best today for the team on the constructor’s championship, and for me personally to reach my 39th podium and 1,010 points, so I am super happy, and we are going to celebrate a lot! It couldn’t be better, this track and the people of Seoul have been amazing, we couldn’t have had a better day.”

Formula E returns to the track in Seoul on Sunday for the championship finale.

Owen Johnson