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Forgettable for Frijns, Blissful for Buemi — How did the Formula E contingent fare at Le Mans in 2024?

Written by Vyas Ponnuri

The dust has only just settled on the 24 Hours of Le Mans this year, and while some drivers shone over the course of the 24-hour race, others had a weekend to forget. DIVEBOMB reviews the story of eight full-time Formula E drivers and their performances in the grand endurance race….

Sebastian Buemi: #8 Toyota GR - 5th position

Chasing win number five at Le Mans, Sebastian Buemi had it all to do starting from eleventh on the grid, having missed out on making it to hyperpole due to a late red flag on Wednesday. The Toyota hypercar has seen great success at Le Mans in the past, with Buemi winning four times, and it was always expected to see them have great race pace. 

The Swiss driver had a stellar first stint in the race, as was able to climb up to second on the road at one point, battling the likes of the Cadillac and Ferrari hypercars, even briefly holding the lead before the end of his stint. 

The Toyota appeared to be in the running for victory as the race wore on, running consistently in the top positions as other hypercars began to retire from the race, or encounter issues and crashes. 

It was imperative for the trio to stay away from incidents, remembering what the sister #7 car had been through last year, and the #8 was once again able to keep going in the night stages, and through the lengthy safety car period. 

However, Buemi was slowly lighting up the timing screens with five hours to go, as he closed in on the front-running #50 and #51 Ferrari hypercars, the #2 Cadillac, and the #7 Toyota. He would even get past the #83 Ferrari with a stellar move around the outside of the tight Mulsanne corner, before the latter retired due to an electrical blackout. 

While Buemi drove a stellar race, it was during his co-driver Brendon Hartley’s stint when the damage was done, as the #8 Toyota would be tipped into a spin by a charging #51 Ferrari trying to overtake at the Mulsanne chicane. 

Eventually dropping to sixth, the Japanese manufacturer insisted on bringing Buemi on for the final stint of the race, with the four-time Le Mans winner having fewer track extensions to his name compared to the Kiwi at the wheel. 

They would swap Hartley with Buemi at the pit stop, but the damage was already done, and even though the #8 would overtake the victory-challenging #7 in the final hour, Buemi was obliged to stop once again, and would only finish fifth on the road, behind the pole-sitter Kevin Estre in the #6 Porsche. 

Nyck de Vries - #7 Toyota GR - Second position

Having had their quickest lap deleted due to the red flag after a spin in qualifying, the #7 Toyota was relegated to the rear of the hypercar grid for the start of the race. 

A strange moment in the Porsche curves would see Nyck de Vries run into the rear of the #78 Akkodis SP Lexus GT3 on the way to the grid, damaging the front of the Toyota and leaving them with plenty to do. Fortunately for the Dutchman, the crew were able to fix the hypercar in time for the race start, allowing de Vries to start at the tail of the hypercar field. 

The #7 hypercar would move past the slower hypercars on the grid, to be among the lead pack when it began to rain in hour two. For most of the race, this car ran without incident as team principal Kamui Kobayashi and stand-in Jose Maria Lopez were able to battle with the Cadillac, Porsche, and Ferrari hypercars all along. 

After the lengthy safety car, however, de Vries would drop back just as the field went back to green flag running. After challenging the #51 Ferrari for third into Tertre Rouge, the Dutchman complained of a lack of visibility, with onboards from the Toyota revealing the state of the windscreen, as he would have to pit to remove the tear-off, losing valuable time. 

Despite the challenges the #7 would be battling with the #50 and the #83 Ferrari hypercars in the latter stages of the race, before the safety car neutralised the race in the 19th hour. While Lopez took over the final stint, the team’s best efforts wouldn’t be enough, as they would fall 14 seconds off what would have been a special race victory, despite having victory in the bag after the Ferrari team were conserving fuel to finish the race in the lead. 

A spin by Lopez in the final hour, eerily reminiscent of Ryo Hirakawa’s error in the late stages of last year’s Le Mans, cost the #7 Toyota valuable time along their chase to victory. Yet, the Japanese manufacturer finished second once again, and de Vries stood on the podium at Le Mans, on his first hypercar appearance for the team. 

Norman Nato - #12 Hertz Team JOTA - Eighth position

One of the defining stories of the weekend was Hertz Team JOTA’s excellent recovery effort after Callum Ilott crashed the #12 hypercar in the running for hyperpole. 

The team had to turn their focus to getting the 6 Hours of Spa winning hypercar on the grid for Le Mans on Saturday, with a major rebuild job at their disposal. A replacement monocoque arrived shortly after, and the team were granted permission to test their car on a nearby airfield to ensure it was ready to race. 

A tireless effort by the mechanics, and they had got the engine up and running within 36 hours, a job that normally takes weeks, allowing the team to test their car, and start eighth on the grid for the 24-hour race. 

Former Marussia F1 racer Will Stevens kicked off the race for the team, holding firm, before Nato and Ilott continued the good work, keeping the #12 JOTA in the running for victory, and even ahead of the #38 JOTA for most part of the race. 

Ultimately, as the rain came down, and the gaps increasing, JOTA had to settle for eighth and ninth, with the #12 car finishing eighth meaning as much as a victory for the team based in Tunbridge Wells, who had worked tirelessly on Thursday and Friday to ensure Stevens, Nato, and Ilott had a chance to compete in the big race. 

Edoardo Mortara - #19 Lamborghini Iron Lynx - 10th position

Lamborghini Iron Lynx boss Andrea Piccini came to Le Mans eyeing a top ten finish, knowing of the SC63 hypercar not being in the running to challenge for ultimate glory on Saturday and Sunday. 

A 13th position start affirmed the team’s pace, and restricted them to scrapping hard to get into the top ten and earn points. 

While Mortara kicked off the race for the team in green, the reliability of the car came into the picture as the race went on. With fellow hypercar debutantes Alpine and BMW experiencing reliability problems and crashes, the other Italian team soldiered on, running in the fringes of the points after staying out on dry tyres in the second hour. 

As the race wore on, their closest competitors would be the Peugeot hypercars, the French team experiencing a difficult home race this time around. In a final-hour overtake, the #63 car would get past the Peugeot hypercar for tenth, and the final point, bringing two hard-earned points, and matching their team principal’s expectations for the weekend. 

Stoffel Vandoorne - #94 Peugeot TotalEnergies - 11th Position

The #94 Peugeot hypercar had enough pace to even take the race lead during nightfall at last year’s running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, before Gustavo Menezes had an incident that resigned the French team to the garage to fix the damage, and finish the race 30 laps down on the leader. 

However, Peugeot simply didn’t have the same turn of pace to challenge for the lead, let alone victory at their home race. Their 9x8 hypercar for this year didn’t have the same level of straight line speed as their predecessor, leaving Vandoorne, Duval, and Di Resta confined to 20th on the grid for the start. 

Their car would run without any reliability gremlins, and pointing in the right direction, putting the #94 ahead of the Alpine, BMW, Isotta Franchini, and even their teammates in the #93 Peugeot, who had a tougher showing at Le Mans this time around. 

Any chances of the team sniffing a couple of points to cap off a difficult weekend vanished in the final hour, with the #63 Lamborghini making its way past to grab tenth, and the final points on offer to the racers. 

Jean-Eric Vergne, Nico Muller - #94 Peugeot TotalEnergies - 12th position

In the 2023 running of the race, the #93 hypercar managed to finish sixth on the road, grabbing a strong haul of points from the 24-hour race that contributed towards their tally of 51 for the season. 

However, this year’s running of the race was a harsh fall for the French team, with the #93 finishing right behind the ‘sister’ #94 car, classified twelfth at the end. 

Having fared better in qualifying, starting 15th, the #93 hypercar hovered towards the rear of the field for the most part. While Mikkel Jensen and Jean-Eric Vergne’s stints went without much action, it was in the 19th hour when Nico Muller’s off at Indianapolis corner put the #93 hypercar a lap down, as Muller had to be lifted out of the gravel with the intervention of a crane. 

In a closely-contested hypercar field, the team were able to finish behind their fellow Peugeot hypercar, two laps down on the leaders, a disappointing showing for the French team at their home race. 

Robin Frijns - #20 BMW M Team WRT - Not Classified (96 laps)

It was a forgettable Le Mans for BMW across classes, with three of their four cars not seeing the chequered flag, and not classified in the final results. 

Their race began to unravel as the #15 hypercar raced by Marco Wittmann spun off at the esses, before Frijns had an off during the second hour of the race, taking too much kerb at the first of the Ford chicanes. 

Frijns managed to limp back to the pits, the #20 Art car losing valuable time to their competitors around the 13-kilometre circuit, before being wheeled into the garage for repairs. 

As the race wore on, the German manufacturer’s hypercars were marooned, restricted to their garage as the team attempted to fix the damage, and hopefully get back on track once again. 

Alas, they were able to, as Sheldon van der Linde was able to get the #20 BMW back on track late in the race, as a gesture to help the team see the chequered flag, but with only 96 laps to their name, the team wouldn’t be classified in the final results. 


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