Following a high-intensity race yesterday, which saw a Formula E record for the number of overtakes, the second race from Berlin was eagerly anticipated by the packed crowd on Sunday afternoon. Free Practice and Qualifying at the iconic Tempelhof Airport circuit was held in wet conditions, providing an interesting challenge for the drivers and teams in the their new Gen3 single-seaters. In Qualifying, it was to be a surprise front-row lock-out by ABT Cupra who had the best set-up for the slippery conditions – with Robin Frijns getting the better of teammate Nico Müller on the time sheet. How long they could stay at the front was the question on many peoples lips, as the team with the least development time coming into the new season were eager to get points on the board in Germany.
Come the race however, the sun shone, and the once slippery concrete circuit was now completely bone-dry, ready and waiting for Round Eight of the Formula E Championship. When the race finally got underway, the field got through the opening lap unscathed, as the jockeying for positions began. Both of the ABT cars were going to struggle to hold position, despite being the first cars to activate their first Attack Mode on Lap Four. Before too long, the Cupra pairing slipped down the packed order.
The lead changed hands on numerous occasions, as it did in the race a day before, with drivers taking it in turn to head the field and act as the lead of the train – punching a hole in the air around the high-slipstream track. Those in the cleaner air behind could energy save a crucial few percent with each lap – harvesting the energy for the dash to the flag at the end.
The deck was loaded with Formula E stars aplenty. Sébastien Buemi (Envision Racing), Jean-Éric Vergne (DS Penske) Jake Dennis (Avalanche Andretti) and the two Tag Heuer Porsche drivers – António Félix da Costa and championship leader Pascal Wehrlein all wanted to throw their hat into the ring for victory.
Buemi, who narrowly missed out on a rostrum the day before, knocked his front wing on Lap 20 whilst dicing in the front pack. The frustrated Swiss driver slipped down the order and into the pit lane – his race over. Cars were four-wide at various points – as drivers tried to slot themselves into the slipstreaming pack, but keeping themselves close to the race lead. A coming together between Da Costa and Mitch Evans (Jaguar TCS Racing) allowed the front three to break away – with Envision Racing pilot Nick Cassidy sensing the pent-up racing energy was beginning to boil over and made his way to the front on lap 24 – bringing a chasing Dennis and Vergne with him.
Managing his energy and tyres, the New Zealander Cassidy fended off the advances of the chasing pack behind and with six laps to go, the charge was on, as the Kiwi put the hammer down driving a faultless race to the flag – taking his second ever Formula E victory and moving himself into second in the series standings.
Jake Dennis endured a tough Saturday – putting his hopes of a podium into the wall in the first race of the double-header weekend, but made up for the blot in his copybook, pushing his Avalanche Andretti into second place – bolstering his hope of a strong title tilt. Double Champion Jean-Éric Vergne knows a thing or two about building a campaign, and kept his nose clean after a subdued opening race in Berlin to round out the final position of the podium in third.
Round Seven winner Mitch Evans delivered a respectable fourth place – with the Jaguar driver amazingly avoiding any damage, after contact with Da Costa who brought his Porsche home in fifth. One of the drives of weekend came from Maximilian Günther in the Maserati MSG Racing car. After a breakthrough podium for the Italian manufacturer 24 hours earlier – the German fought his way from the back of the grid, up to sixth overall – punching in the fastest lap of the race in the process.
Championship leader and homegrown hero Pascal Wehrlein will be leaving Germany with plenty of head scratching to do, as he aims to seek more performance from his Porsche. The German slipped from sixth on the grid to seventh in the race ahead of Stoffel Vandoorne (DS Penske) – and in the process lost the majority of his standings lead to his rivals. Following a brilliant Qualifying session, the ABT Cupra pairing tried all they could to hang onto the coat tails of their experienced rivals. Nico Müller delivered his best performance of the season, as he chalked up ninth overall and the first points for Cupra this year. The championship now heads south to the Principality of Monaco for the next round of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship. One of the jewels in the series crown – all the drivers will be ready to fight for Round Nine victory on the famous motor racing streets on 6 May.
Nick Cassidy, Envision Racing
“I knew I was in the fight. I’ve been in the fight the last five races. Yesterday, we had a great opportunity as well and I made a mistake and I really put my hand up for that. But, today we made it count. So, thanks so much to my guys. I’ve had an opportunity to win nearly every weekend and as a driver that’s a dream. I’ve had some really good luck and I’m sure some bad luck and bad weekends are coming our way, but until then I’m enjoying the ride – it’s been amazing.”
Jake Dennis, Avalanche Andretti Formula E
“To not see a chequered flag since Saudi is mind-blowing. We’re still fourth in the Championship I’ve just got told. Obviously more energy than Nick but the targets were so high at the end, and it was too much of a risk and honestly I was just happy with the 18 points and just bringing it home. The boys deserve so much today. After all the hardwork we’ve put in the last few events and always come short with a DNF or a crash, so yeah they deserve the champagne more than I do. I’m super happy right now. I didn’t know if the car was going to make it to the end after the contact at turns 4 halfway through. But nevertheless, saw the chequered flag, 18 points and a beer. (On temptation to go for the win) Not when Nick started to pick up the pace with eight laps to go – it was just too high risk and JEV was looking pretty punchy at turn 6 so I had to manage that. I was pretty content in second place and scoring some points to be honest.”
Jean-Eric Vergne, DS Penske
“It was really chaotic. I’m very glad the race is over. I’ve never really experienced this kind of racing where no one really wants to be leading at the beginning and creating a lot of chaos at the back. I was just trying to manage to stay in the top 4 or 5, every time I was 6th I was pushing to come back because otherwise you’re glued to the back and then you can’t come back. So it’s a bit of a strategy game, but it’s mental, it was a very difficult race so I’m very happy to finish on the podium in third. It could have been very easy to do otherwise today, so I’m going to take those points gladly and move on. The Championship isn’t something I’m looking at at the moment – there are still so many races remaining. We have a lot of work to do as a team. I’m really glad with the work we’ve done this weekend. We certainly don’t have the pace or the performance of the Jag so we need to push really hard to catch up and aim for some more victories.”