Lucas di Grassi has won the Berlin ePrix, taking his second victory of the 2018-19 Formula E Championship season in the process. The Brazilian’s win also gives his Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler team back-to-back Berlin victories, with teammate Daniel Abt having won last year’s event.
Having earlier qualified third on the grid, di Grassi held position from the start behind pole-sitter Sébastien Buemi and second place Stoffel Vandoorne. It did not take long, however, for the season three champion to start his charge forward. After five minutes of the race, di Grassi passed Vandoorne for second at Turn 6, before setting his sights on Buemi. Clearly feeling he had a performance advantage under brakes, the Brazilian again made his move down the inside into Turn 6 a short time later and grabbed the lead of the race.
BMW i Andretti’s António Félix da Costa moved up from seventh on the grid, moving by Vandoorne for third and challenging Buemi, passing for second with around 20 minutes remaining in the race. It was only to be a brief run of da Costa chasing down di Grassi, as Buemi engaged Fanboost a few minutes later and used the increased power to pass the BMW and moved back to second.
Championship leader Jean-Éric Vergne had started in eighth, one place behind da Costa, and had also moved forward in a similar manner. By this stage the DS Techeetah had also passed Vandoorne for fourth place, and began challenging for the podium. Following a brief a full course yellow period to clear Alex Lynn’s Jaguar, which had stopped on the front straight with a suspected drivetrain issue, Vergne began his assault on Buemi, the battle peaking in the final two minutes of the race.
With Buemi having his hands full defending from Vergne, the pressure eased slightly on di Grassi who crossed the line to claim his second win of the season. Buemi withstood Vergne’s attacks, holding on to claim second – and his first podium of the season – 1.856 seconds behind di Grassi and just 0.666 seconds ahead of Vergne. The result sees the past three series’ champions (and the only three champions in the field) filling the podium.
Celebrating Audi’s twelfth victory in 55 Formula E races – at the manufacturer’s home race – di Grassi reflected on the importance of energy strategy to his win:
“[It was] an amazing race for Audi,” he summarised. “It was a very strategic race with a lot of energy saving and our cars seemed very efficient today, so I’m super happy. It just shows that you have to work hard and do the best we can – surprises can come and this is a very nice surprise to me.”
Pleased to finally be back on the podium, Buemi felt he achieved as much as he could in Berlin: “I feel like I’ve done the most I could today, so there was not much left…I just wasn’t efficient enough and at the start, I was not quick enough. I was not bad today but Lucas was better and I think JEV was better too. I’m satisfied because I think we’re not quick enough in the race to aim for better, so at the end, I’m happy to take 21 points today – I think it’s good. I really feel like P3 for the team in the Championship is possible.”
Da Costa held fourth place ahead of Vandoorne, while Abt could not repeat his heroics of last season, finishing where he started in sixth position, but right on the tail of the Belgian. The top ten positions were filled by Alexander Sims in the second BMW i Andretti, Buemi’s Nissan e.Dams teammate Oliver Rowland, and Sam Bird in the leading Envision Virgin Racing car.
It was a fraught ePrix for André Lotterer. Second in the championship coming into Berlin, Lotterer started 21st on the grid and instantly began to make progress forward. The German was up to fifteenth in the opening ten minutes of the race and had moved to eleventh following the full course yellow, only for a battery issue to strike the DS Techeetah and force him into pit lane. With the problem unable to be rectified, Lotterer was forced to join Lynn as the only two drivers not classified as finishers.
Third pace for Vergne ensures the Frenchman remains at the top of the Drivers’ Championship standings with 102 points, while di Grassi jumps up to second, six points behind. By failing to finish, Lotterer (86 points) slips to third, with da Costa (82 points) fourth and Robin Frijns (81 points) fifth. As the top five are now the only drivers within a single race meeting of points from the championship lead, the title contenders are finally starting to stand up after ten races.
DS Techeetah (188 points) retain the lead of the Teams’ Championship, but di Grassi’s victory and Abt’s sixth place sees Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler jump up to second with 163 points – this points battle beginning to look very much like the 2017-18 season where Audi Sport just trumped Techeetah for the title. Envision Virgin Racing sit third on 137 points, with Nissan e.Dams (124 points) in hot pursuit and Mahindra only seven points further behind. Also an outside chance in the race for third is BMW i Andretti, who currently sit in sixth place on 106 points.
The championship will now return to Switzerland, but in a new city and a brand new circuit for the Bern ePrix on June 22. With only three races left in the title race, the battle to win Formula E’s closest ever season is fast approaching its zenith.
|2019 ABB Formula E Berlin ePrix – Final Classification|
|Driver||Team / Entry||Laps||Result||Pts|
|1.||Lucas di Grassi||Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler||37||47:02.477||26|
|2.||Sébastien Buemi||Nissan e.dams||37||+ 1.856||21|
|3.||Jean-Éric Vergne||DS Techeetah||37||+ 2.522||15|
|4.||António Félix da Costa||BMW i Andretti Motorsport||37||+ 5.845||12|
|5.||Stoffel Vandoorne||HWA Racelab||37||+ 6.336||10|
|6.||Daniel Abt||Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler||37||+ 6.551||8|
|7.||Alexander Sims||BMW i Andretti Motorsport||37||+ 8.235||6|
|8.||Oliver Rowland||Nissan e.dams||37||+ 10.781||4|
|9.||Sam Bird||Envision Virgin Racing||37||+ 13.153||2|
|10.||Pascal Wehrlein||Mahindra Racing||37||+ 14.846||1|
|11.||Edoardo Mortara||Venturi Formula E Team||37||+ 15.377|
|12.||Mitch Evans||Panasonic Jaguar Racing||37||+ 17.688|
|13.||Robin Frijns||Envision Virgin Racing||37||+ 21.197|
|14.||Maximilian Günther||Geox Dragon Racing||37||+ 26.154|
|15.||Felipe Massa||Venturi Formula E Team||37||+ 26.684|
|16.||Gary Paffett||HWA Racelab||37||+ 27.718|
|17.||Jérôme d’Ambrosio||Mahindra Racing||37||+ 27.729|
|18.||Oliver Turvey||NIO Formula E Team||37||+ 32.117|
|19.||Tom Dillmann||NIO Formula E Team||37||+ 33.706|
|20.||José María López||Geox Dragon Racing||37||+ 46.895|
|Not Classified||Team / Entry||Laps||Reason|
|DNF.||André Lotterer||DS Techeetah||21||Battery|
|DNF.||Alex Lynn||Panasonic Jaguar Racing||23||Technical|
Post Race Penalties:
- Championship points are awarded on the results of the ePrix to the top-ten finishers on a 25-18-15-12-10-8-6-4-2-1 sliding scale.
- Sébastien Buemi earned 3 bonus championship points for securing the Julius Baer pole position.
- The fastest lap posted by a top-10 finisher was by Lucas di Grassi, who earns the bonus championship point.
Images via ABB FIA Formula E Championship