Maximilian Günther took victory in a nail-biting Berlin E-Prix, bringing to an end Antonio Felix da Costa’s dominance in one of the closest victory’s in Formula E’s history.
Home win for Günther and BMW
As Da Costa gets ever-closer to the championship title, Günther put an end to his race-winning streak and took a home victory for the BMW team and himself during Saturday’s E-Prix.
Although qualifying on the front row in 2nd and showing potential throughout the day, it was when Jean-Eric Vergne had issues with regen and losing power during Attack Mode that Günther was able to take full advantage and pass for the lead.
This the first time the German manufacturer has taken even a podium spot here at their home round, and despite team calls reminding Günther to play it cool and avoid over-usage of battery in a desperate attempt to pass Vergne, he managed to pass the two-time champ with several laps to go before the end of the race.
Robin Frijns also passed a suffering Vergne on the last laps, finishing second – his best result of the season so far. Both Frijns and Günther battled for the win in the final lap, but it was Günther who held position and finished the race with just a + 0.128s lead.
Da Costa closes in on drivers’ championship
Despite starting 8th in today’s race, a small mistake preventing him from getting through to the Super Pole, Da Costa was on a roll and just missed out on a podium position.
With a 68 point lead with three races to go, it seems likely that the championship could be decided during Sunday’s E-Prix in favour of Da Costa as his lead continues to grow.
Although it appeared that Vergne was the stronger of the two Techeetahs, placing his car on pole and leading the majority of the race, reliability woes affected his power usage which allowed both Frijns and Günther through and left Vergne in third.
He did manage to hold off team-mate Da Costa in the final laps, and overall appeared much more confident and comfortable with the car than in the previous races around the Berlin circuit.
good day, bad day
Both Mahindra Racing cars threw their cars into Super Pole ahead of the third Berlin race, with Jerome D’Ambrosio managing to secure a 7th place finish amongst all the carnage of the race.
Mitch Evans had a more positive day, climbing from 19th to 9th and landing himself some points after a terrible start for both himself and Jaguar. Unfortunate for the Kiwi, who looked as a strong championship contender as we arrived in Berlin.
Evans’ team-mate, James Calado suffered heavy damage during the race in an incident he described as “never been taken out that badly before”. The crash that involved Sérgio Sette Camara and Neel Jani brought out the Safety Car. It is understood from post-race discussions that Alexander Sims went up the inside of Sette Camara who then braked hard to defend his position and unintentionally wiped out Calado. Sette Camara then came to a sudden stop on the track, which caused Jani to drive straight into him.
Felipe Massa had also looked on for a good result, but contact with Lucas di Grassi meant he was awarded a penalty and finished the race dead last.
Misery at Mercedes
With strong performances here in Berlin, it seemed Saturday could be the day that perhaps Stoffel Vandoorne gathered a big points haul for the new German constructors and possibly even a podium. He managed to get the car into Super Pole and was on for a great result before contact with Alex Lynn caused a tyre puncture and caused him to retire from the race.
“Tough day for us as a team,” Vandoorne said after the race. “From my side, I had a pretty good start to the race to be honest. I was settling in behind Frijns, everything was looking pretty good and the front-running group was very compact.
“As you know, in these races usually all the action happens at the end. We had a safety car and then a restart, I then got hit from behind and a rear tyre puncture. That was the end of our race which was a shame because it felt like with the recent raising performances we have shown, it felt like something good was on the cards today. We were looking strong energy wise and kind of settling in managing the tyres, managing the pace.”
Vandoorne’s team-mate Nyck De Vries also had troubles, and missed Attack Mode during the race which he apologised for and admitted it had compromised his race result.