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Frijns survives late-race scare to claim top 10 finish in Tokyo

Envision Racing’s Robin Frijns emerged from the first ever Tokyo E-Prix with a hard-won eighth place and important points for himself and the team

After 35 laps of a dramatic, historic E-Prix in Japan, not even the loss of a front wing could hinder Frijns’ quest for points.

The Envision Racing driver executed a calm but rapid race, surviving damage late in the race to end up eighth, with four points in the bag after a tough day on brand new circuit.

In truth it could have been even better for the Dutchman, if he had not been hit by Norman Nato in the closing stages – a collision that earned the Andretti driver a five-second penalty.

Despite setting the pace in practice, Envision Racing suffered another difficult qualifying session which did not reflect the speed of the car and drivers. Robin Frijns narrowly missed out on making the duels ending up 10th on the grid, whilst Sébastien Buemi was forced to settle for 21st after damage prevented him making the most of his final qualifying run.

When the lights went out to start the first ever E-Prix in Japan it was polesitter Oliver Rowland who maintained the lead, and as the pack filtered through the opening sequence of corners, Frijns had moved up two places to eighth.

After a lively opening couple of laps, Frijns managed to settle into eighth, just behind António Félix da Costa, as team-mate Buemi remained boxed in down in 21st place.

In the closing metres of lap four, Frijns made a superb double overtake, surging from eighth to sixth, slotting in behind the Porsche of Pascal Wehrlein.

By lap 10 of the scheduled 33, Frijns found himself in a decent seventh place, behind da Costa, as up front, Rowland maintained his lead from Edoardo Mortara and Maximilian Günther. Three laps later, a temporary drop to eighth was soon resolved as Frijns passed Sérgio Sette Câmara to once again set his sights on sixth place man da Costa.

As the battle for the lead between Rowland and Günther, Frijns elected to take his opening Attack Mode phase on lap 18, dropping down to eighth place. Further back, Buemi had made decent progress, moving from 21st to 16th, aided by a crash for Jaguar’s Mitch Evans.

On lap 20 the debris resulting from Evans’ incident necessitated the first safety car period of the day, bunching up the pack, with Frijns sitting seventh, and Buemi running 16th. 

Racing action resumed on lap 22, with Rowland at the front, chased by Günther and Mortara with Frijns in seventh chasing the two Andretti machines. Two laps later Frijns went for Attack Mode, losing a place to Wehrlein’s slightly wounded Porsche. 

Two additional laps were added to the race distance, extending the contest to 35 laps as Günther headed the pack in the Maserati from Rowland and da Costa. Frijns continued to hold eighth place for Envision Racing, applying the pressure on Norman Nato before a heavy collision for the Dutch driver resulted in the loss of his front wing.

Frijns emerged from the contact with Nato down in 10th, minus a serious chunk of downforce.

Entering the final, added two laps, Frijns was forced to apply all his skill and experience to resist a challenge from Sette Câmara. At the chequered flag, Frijns managed to hold on to finish 10th on the road, which became ninth as Nato was penalised for causing the earlier collision.

Up front, Günther claimed the win ahead of Rowland and Jake Dennis, with Buemi ending up 12th. 

After the race there was further good news for Frijns. Mahindra Racing’s Mortara was found to have used excess energy, resulting in his disqualification, promoting Frijns to eighth (and Buemi to 12th), and adding an extra two points to the Teams’ and Drivers’ Championship tally.

Drivers’ standings (after Rd 5):
1. Nick Cassidy, 63pts
2. Pascal Wehrlein, 63pts
3. Oliver Rowland, 54pts
4. Jake Dennis, 53pts
5. Maximilian Günther, 48pts
9. Robin Frijns, 23pts
9. Sébastien Buemi, 20pts

Teams’ standings (after Rd 5):
1. Jaguar TCS Racing, 102pts
2. Porsche Formula E Team, 83pts
3. Nissan, 63pts
4. Andretti Formula E 62, pts
5. DS Penske, 57pts
8. Envision Racing, 43pts

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Envision Racing head to Japan for the first time hungry for victory

It has been years in the making, but the Tokyo E-Prix is finally here, and Envision Racing are ready to battle for big points in one of the coolest cities in the world!

The inaugural Tokyo E-Prix will mark the first time the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship has ever visited Japan, and after four races, the first time the series and Envision Racing has done battle at a new venue. With the now familiar venues of Mexico City, Diriyah, and São Paulo chalked off, a brand new challenge awaits for round five of the championship.

After four races, reigning Teams’ Champions Envision Racing have experienced a mixed start to the 2023–24 ABB FIA Formula E World Championship. The undoubted highlight so far in 2024 has been Robin Frijns’ second place finish at the second race of the Diriyah E-Prix weekend. 

Both Robin Frijns and team-mate Sébastien Buemi have shown front-running pace in practice, qualifying, and race conditions so far, however the luck just hasn’t quite been with the team in the same way it seemed to be in 2023. Ahead of the first ever Tokyo E-Prix, Buemi sits ninth in the Drivers’ Championship standings – with Frijns in 10th.

Envision Racing occupies seventh place in the Teams’ Championship order, however a good points haul in Japan will see the team get back to near the summit, and set a course for a strong defence of their crown.  

THE CHALLENGE IN TOKYO

Gear up for a pulse-pounding ride around the Tokyo Street Circuit! This isn’t your average racetrack. This 2.5km track is a brand new, 18-turn challenge that snakes its way around the Tokyo International Exhibition Centre, also known as Tokyo Big Sight – the largest venue in all of Japan. And it all takes place just minutes from the heart of the bustling metropolis.

The layout itself is a masterclass in variety. Three long straights allow for exhilarating bursts of speed, perfect for showcasing the raw power of the Gen3 Formula E cars. But don’t be fooled – this isn’t all about flat-out acceleration. Interspersed with these straights are technical sequences of tight corners, demanding razor-sharp precision and quick reflexes from the drivers. As if that wasn’t enough, the circuit throws in some high-speed combinations, forcing drivers to thread the needle between blistering pace and maintaining control.

Imagine navigating this complex dance of speed and agility, all set against the breathtaking backdrop of the Tokyo skyline. For the first time, the iconic cityscape becomes a stage for the future of motorsport.

Both Frijns and Buemi, having only experienced this virtual labyrinth through simulators, are chomping at the bit to finally get behind the wheel and test their mettle on this real-world challenge. The Tokyo Street Circuit promises to be a true test of skill and a spectacle for fans – a perfect marriage of innovation, electric adrenaline, and the undeniable allure of Tokyo.

LAST TIME OUT IN BRAZIL

In 2023 Envision Racing tasted podium success at the inaugural São Paulo E-Prix. The team’s second visit to the tricky South American venue didn’t yield similar success, however, Sébastien Buemi did turn in a determined drive to secure an unlikely brace of points. One for finishing 10th (fittingly the 10th of his career), and another for claiming the fastest lap of the race.

Shaking off a frustrating 19th place finish in Saudi Arabia, Robin Frijns will have his sights set on redemption in Japan. The Dutch driver is hungry for a strong result as he and Envision Racing head to the historic Tokyo E-Prix.

Drivers’ standings (after Rd 4):
1. Nick Cassidy, 57pts
2. Pascal Wehrlein, 53pts
3. Mitch Evans, 39pts
4. Jean-Éric Vergne 39pts
5. Jake Dennis, 38pts
9. Sébastien Buemi, 20pts
10. Robin Frijns, 19pts

Teams’ standings (after Rd 4):
1. Jaguar TCS Racing, 96pts
2. Porsche Formula E Team, 61pts
3. DS Penske, 57pts
4. McLaren, 55pts
5. Andretti Formula E 47, pts
7. Envision Racing, 39pts

DID YOU KNOW?

Tokyo is the most populous metropolis in the world! As of 2023, the Tokyo metropolitan area, which includes Tokyo and its nearby prefectures, is home to a staggering 37.4 million residents. That’s more people than the entire population of Canada!

WHERE AND HOW TO WATCH THE TOKYO E-PRIX

(All times BST)

Free Practice 1 Friday 29 March – 07:25 – 08:15

 

Free Practice 2 Saturday 29 March – 22:55 – 23:45

 

Qualifying Saturday 30 March – 01:20 – 02:43

 

E-Prix Saturday 30 March 06:03 – 07:30