Formula E End of Term Report Card: BMW Andretti & Audi Sport
BMW Andretti / Audi Sport © FIA Formula E
BMW Andretti / Audi Sport © FIA Formula E

Formula E End of Term Report Card: BMW Andretti & Audi Sport

In part three of our Formula E Season 6 driver ratings, we’re moving on to rate the drivers of German giants AUDI SPORT and BMW ANDRETTI

Make sure you also catch up on parts one and two featuring DS Techeetah, Nissan e.dams, Mercedes EQ, and Envision Virgin Racing.

  1. BMW ANDRETTI

Max Günther 🇩🇪
9th in the championship with 69 points
Grade: B+

Max Günther’s move to BMW this was met with both excitement and intrigue as his talent had shone on numerous occasions during a rollercoaster rookie season with Dragon.

Speaking to Günther at the pre-season test in Valencia, he appeared every inch a driver tailor-made for life with a big name works team. He came across composed but with a quiet confidence and an endearing enthusiasm about him, and you could tell he’d been eager to go racing since the moment the ink had dried on his contract.

This season, his first with BMW, wasn’t perfect and we shouldn’t pretend otherwise, but his highlights were very, very impressive.

It’s worth noting that at no stage this season were BMW the quickest or most efficient outfit on the grid. He started in the top 10 on just five occasions all season – a record unlikely to stand out on paper, but in fairness to Günther that says as much about the BMW package as his own raw speed.

When the car was there, he was there, and that’s what matters. In fact, he holds the bizarre record this season of either finishing first or second, or not finishing in the points at all. Literally, shit or bust.

He was (correctly) stripped of a podium on his BMW debut for an overtake under the safety car, but bounced back brilliantly in Santiago to become Formula E’s youngest ever race winner with a bold final lap overtake.

His late race heroics became his signature move during the first half of the season, and he repeated the feat again in Marrakesh with a last lap move to deny Techeetah a 1-2 finish.

In Berlin, BMW were off the pace for most of it, but Günther somehow strung it all together for one race at least, clinching a surprise second win of the season in Race 3 – his only points gathered from the final six races in Berlin.

It will be fascinating to watch Günther’s development now he’s been confirmed for a second year with BMW. He’ll need, however, to find a way to weigh up risk and reward a little better if he’s to become a more consistent points scorer next season.

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Alexander Sims 🇬🇧
13th in the championship with 49 points
Grade: B

Following Alexander Sims’ improved performances at the back end of his rookie season, there was optimism that the breakthrough results his performances hinted at would soon arrive – and to begin with, they did.

Carrying through his pole position pace from New York, Sims began the new season in fine form, bagging pole position for both Diriyah races (no one had secured three in a row before) and the sight of him power-sliding through a corner while full tilt on his pole lap was one of the moments of the season.

Sims was shuffled down the pack in the first of those races but delivered a measured performance to take his first Formula E win in Diriyah 2, becoming the early championship leader as a result.

In Santiago, Sims picked up damage recovering from a 15th place grid spot – a consequence of having qualified in Group 1 for the first time – but rebounded to produce one of the drives of the season at the next race in Mexico City. Combining clever energy management with some razor sharp overtakes, Sims recovered from 18th place to take fifth, setting the fastest race lap along the way.

Another top five result was on the cards in Marrakesh before a last lap scuffle with Venturi’s Edoardo Mortara left him with race-ending damage, but despite that, it was another strong performance by Sims to round out a very solid first half of the season.

Berlin, however, was a different story. Throughout the six race finale, BMW struggled constantly to find a balance that would allow them to qualify well and Sims struggled badly as a result.

His average grid position was a lowly 16.8 in Berlin (skewed slightly by a pit lane start for Race 2), but he was still able to display the clinical consistency that was a key feature of his early season performances – moving forward an average of 4.3 places from his starting position.

A frustrated end to a season that promised much, but the second half failings were largely out of Sims’ control. His calm, analytical approach and easygoing demeanour will make him a major asset to his new team Mahindra next year.

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  1. AUDI SPORT

Lucas di Grassi 🇧🇷
6th in the championship with 77 points
Grade: B

The 2019-20 season was far from a vintage one for Lucas di Grassi, and owing much to an Audi package plagued by poor qualifying pace, the Brazilian never looked like being a genuine title or even race win contender this season.

That said, he was still able to add a few notable, personal achievements to his CV over the course of the season including an enhancement to his long-standing reputation as the grid’s most consistent performer.

Di Grassi was one of the only three full time drivers to finish every race this season, scoring nine top 10 results from 11 races – a record equalled only by drivers’ champion Antonio Felix da Costa. His average of six positions gained each race was comfortably the best of the grid too, with his most notable recovery drives coming in Santiago (22nd to 7th), Mexico City (15th to 9th), and Berlin Race 1 (20th to 8th).

That last statistic, however, perhaps says as much about Audi’s qualifying woes this season as their drivers had no choice but to progress forward in order to reach the points. Di Grassi’s average starting position of 13.9 ranked him SIXTEENTH on the grid comparing the 20 drivers who competed the entire season.

It’s clear though that di Grassi remains the top dog at Audi. He was streets ahead of Abt in the first half of the season, finishing ahead in all of their five races together, and fought off tough competition from the motivated Rast to finish with a 4-2 record in Berlin.

Unfortunately for di Grassi, he added two unwanted footnotes to his supremely impressive Formula E career this season. It was the first during which he failed to win a single race (Sam Bird stands alone now with that record) and also the first that di Grassi failed to make the top three in the drivers’ championship.

Di Grassi’s never been a great qualifier, but he must improve if he’s to add to his tally of 10 Formula E race wins next season. Audi must shoulder some of that responsibility too after an altogether unconvincing campaign.

René Rast 🇩🇪
15th in the championship with 29 points
Grade: B-

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When Rene Rast spoke to Inside Electric a few weeks prior to his Audi Formula E debut, he commented that his goal for Berlin was “to score a point here and there, and to progress over the six races” and on reflection it’s probably fair to say he achieved that and a lot more.

While Rast did benefit from the grippier Group 1, his qualifying performances were impressive given his limited preparation. He outqualified di Grassi on his debut, and again in each of the final three races, placing 8th, 4th (quickest in group qualifying), and 3rd respectively.

In the races, Rast coolly negotiated both a safety car and full course yellow period to score a point on his debut, and boosted his tally yet further with a pair of eye-catching drives to take third and fourth respectively in the final two races, leaving him with a very respectable haul of 29 points in the final standings.

His robust last lap pass on Porsche’s Andre Lotterer in Race 5 was the sort of do-or-die move you’d probably expect to see more in DTM (Rast’s regular series) than in Formula E. It was a well executed opportunistic move that earned him a place on the podium, and displayed the kind of killer instinct that will serve him well if handed the seat full time next year.

Daniel Abt 🇩🇪
21st in the championship with 8 points
Grade: C

Looking back, the last 10 months will probably be a period in Daniel Abt’s life he’ll forever want to erase from his memory. He began the season – his sixth alongside Lucas di Grassi – at the wheel of an Audi with race wins his target, but finished it driving an uncompetitive NIO 333 car, aiming simply to save his career after an ill-fated YouTube prank cost him his job mid-season.

On track, there was little in the way of results to divert attention from the eventual drama that encapsulated him off it. Beaten by di Grassi in each of the first five races (an aggregate score of 38-8), the highlight of an altogether wretched season was his stellar recovery drive from 14th to sixth in the second Diriyah race.

Just as di Grassi was hampered by Audi’s poor qualifying pace, Abt was too, but he struggled to move through the pack with the same ease as his team-mate. A confidence-sapping shunt in Mexico City didn’t help, and despite returning with renewed energy for the final six races, the NIO team he joined weren’t really in a position to accurately showcase his talents.

It remains to be seen whether we’ve seen the last of Abt in Formula E, but for a man who has contributed significantly to the championship’s short but colourful history, it will be a shame if this is how he ends up being remembered.

Coming up: Part 4 featuring Jaguar Racing and Porsche

Part 2: Mercedes EQ and Envision Virgin
Part 1: DS Techeetah and Nissan e.dams

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Written by
Rob Watts
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