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Envision Racing’s first race in Shanghai ends with points and plenty of promise

Robin Frijns battled at the front during a promising start to the Shanghai E-Prix double-header weekend as Sébastien Buemi claimed valuable points in the end

With both regular drivers back behind the wheel, it was Frijns who rediscovered Envision Racing’s championship-winning speed at the inaugural Shanghai E-Prix. Qualifying ninth, the man from Maastricht hit the front of the pack throughout the early stages of the race and briefly led.

By the time of the chequered flag, however, it was team-mate Sébastien Buemi who had brought home the points. Buemi endured a difficult start to the opening race of the double-header weekend, managing overcome adversity to find speed and combine wise energy saving to claim 10th place over the finish line.

After penalties elsewhere, however, that was quickly upgraded to P8.

Despite looking the most likely of the Envision Racing duo to score points, Frijns’ fight for a potential top five finish ended with a spin, but both drivers can carry momentum into the weekend’s second race on Sunday.

THE RACE

Starting 9th under grey skies and heavy humidity, when the lights went out, Frijns headed the Envision Racing charge into the first corner. The Dutch driver made a lightning start, moving up two places and into seventh as pole position-winner Jean-Éric Vergne maintained his lead on the expansive Shanghai International Circuit.

By the end of lap one Frijns seized fifth, as team-mate Buemi slipped two places from his starting slot of 12th to 14th. An aggressive Frijns sensationally snatched the lead on lap three, leading Pascal Wehrlein before taking Attack Mode at the beginning of lap four and dropping to fourth. At the sharp end of the field, a game of high-speed chess was shaping up as the drivers employed a mixture of speed and strategy  to save energy throughout the early stages.

By lap 10 of 29, Frijns had dropped down to 12th with a second Attack Mode phase initiated. The Envision Racing man used his additional power to climb up to eighth on lap 11 as Nyck de Vries hit the front.

At the halfway mark, Frijns found himself in fifth, challenging Vergne for fourth as Mitch Evans led the field in the Jaguar, swapping first place with Wehrlein. With the pack racing formation prevalent throughout the top 10, Frijns held seventh entering the final 10 laps and engaged in a tight battle with Vergne.

Any hope of a return to the points took a severe dent on lap 21. Frijns dropped from a strong eighth place, finding himself way down the field after spinning, but recovering to hold on to 16th place. The Envision Racing driver ended up behind team-mate Buemi who had made progress after a difficult afternoon in Shanghai to run in 13th, with plenty of energy saved, and an outside chance of claiming points.

With more energy than Stoffel Vandoorne in 10th, the Swiss driver snatched 10th on the final lap (before eventually leapfrogging to 8th), claiming a crucial point for Envision Racing, and with it, plenty of positives from the opening race of the Shanghai E-Prix weekend.

Frijns came home in 14th, and will be looking to recover and score points on Sunday.

Following an entertaining battle for the victory it was Evans who prevailed ahead of Wehrlein and Nick Cassidy. 

Drivers’ standings (after Rd 11):
1. Nick Cassidy, 155pts
2. Pascal Wehrlein, 142pts
3. Oliver Rowland, 130pts
4. Mitch Evans, 122pts
5. Jake Dennis, 111pts
14. Robin Frijns, 21pts
15. Sébastien Buemi, 21pts
22. Joel Eriksson, 2pts

Teams’ standings (after Rd 11):
1. Jaguar TCS Racing, 277pts
2. Porsche Formula E Team, 211pts
3. Nissan, 156pts
4. DS Penske, 136pts
5. Andretti Formula E 135, pts
8. Envision Racing, 44pts