Vandoorne wins Monaco ePrix as Princess makes public return

Stoffel Vandoorne pulled off a stunning drive to win the fifth Monaco ePrix on Saturday, as Princess Charlene made her first public appearance in over a year for the trophy ceremony.

It was a beautiful day in the Principality as people from across the world descended for race day, the grandstands filling up early ahead of a long day of competition through the iconic streets of Monte-Carlo. The stars were also in attendance. Nico Rosberg, former Formula 1 world champion and now owner of Extreme E team Rosberg X Racing, lapped up the atmosphere. The Extreme E boat, the Saint Helena, was in fact docked in the harbour, but the attention on Saturday was on a different type of electric racing.

It was the first time since 2019 that fans were in attendance, and those that got there early saw New Zealand driver Mitch Evans, who was looking for his third consecutive win, claim pole from Pascal Wehrlein.

Photo by Luke Entwistle, Monaco Life

2019 Monaco ePrix winner Jean-Eric Vergne qualified in third and Stoffel Vandoorne would start the afternoon race in fourth. ROKiT Venturi racing had a mixed qualifying on home turf. Whilst Lucas Di Grassi managed fifth, Edoardo Mortara only managed 16th in what would turn out to be a frustrating day for the Swiss driver.

The drivers kept it clean off the starting grid, with little change up front at lights out. Evans and Wehrlein, however, struggled to pull away. When the former was then told to save energy, rivals smelt the sense of opportunity.

Wehrlein looked the most likely to profit, and may have done so if not for his machinery letting him down, as the German was forced to stop on track. Having passed Evans, Vandoorne was now in control of the race, and looked to have the pace to construct a lead.

Contact between Oliver Rowland and Andre Lotterer at Sainte-Devote, however, brought out the safety car and the field was once again bunched back together.

Meanwhile, slightly further back, Di Grassi enjoyed a quiet, albeit ultimately rewarding race, finishing in p6. The same cannot be said for Mortara, whose miserable day ended in retirement in the closing stages.

Vandoorne took the chequered flag having not looked like giving up his lead, despite the late safety car giving his rivals a glimmer of hope. Evans, having passed Vergne, took second, and the latter rounded off the podium.

Prince Charlene and Princess Gabriella at the award ceremony for the Monaco ePrix, photo by Eric Mathon, Prince’s Palace

Princess Charlene, making her first public appearance in over a year, was present at the trophy presentation ceremony, handing the second-place trophy to Evans, whilst Prince Albert II, Princess Gabriella and Prince Jacques were also present and involved in the ceremony.

Post-race, winner Vandoorne reflected on a special win, having fallen short on other occasions this year. “For any driver, it’s such a special race… we’ve always been fighting at the front this year and I’ve qualified on pole but just couldn’t convert them into victories. But now, from fourth, it was finally my turn.”

Venturi team principal Jerome d’Ambrosio also reflected on his team’s mixed bag. “It was great to be back in Monaco this weekend. A home race is always very special, but to have a home race at motorsport’s most famous circuit is incredible,” he began.

“From our side, it’s good to come away with some points, but unfortunately, today is a day where we could have picked up more points… In the final stages, Edo and Lucas made contact with one another in the Nouvelle chicane. Seeing our drivers collide on track is unacceptable. It’s disrespectful to the team, to the work that everyone puts in and it should never happen.”

The world’s biggest electric racing series next heads to Berlin in two weeks time, where Venturi will be looking to get their title challenge back on track.

See more photos by clicking on the gallery below. Photos by Eric Mathon, Prince’s Palace…