Lucas di Grassi took his second victory of the 2020-21 ABB FIA Formula E World Championship season in an entertaining opening race of the Berlin E-Prix weekend on Saturday.
The Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler driver edged out ROKiT Venturi Racing’s Edoardo Mortara to win at the Tempelhof Airport Street Circuit as pre-race championship leader Nyck de Vries failed to score but maintained his position at the top of the standings.
DS Techeetah started first and second on the grid and Jean-Éric Vergne led António Félix da Costa in the early laps, but they started to fall down the order mid-race, which allowed Audi and Venturi to hit the front.
Di Grassi and his team-mate René Rast (from twelfth on the grid) hit the front for an Audi one-two, only for both to fall behind the Venturi drivers or Mortara and Norman Nato as the duo utilised their attack modes to perfection.
Mortara, however, was unable to keep hold of the lead and was forced to concede position to di Grassi as the Brazilian’s own attack mode enabled him to jump back up to first. Di Grassi was able to hold on until the chequered flag, despite Mortara keeping him honest until the chequered flag.
Behind them, Mitch Evans was able to claim the final spot on the podium for Jaguar Racing after a great move on Nato late in the day heading into turn eight after getting alongside the Frenchman exiting turn seven. The two were locked in battle until the end, with less than a tenth of a second splitting them when the chequered flag fell.
Jake Dennis maintained his challenge for the championship by claiming fifth for the BMW i Andretti Motorsport team, while Vergne could only manage sixth, just ahead of Félix da Costa as Techeetah failed to convert their Qualifying pace advantage into a podium finish in Berlin.
The second BMW of Maximilian Günther took eighth, while Rast’s initial charge could only see him take ninth. Rast was one of the first to use his eight-minute attack mode and charged through the field to run just behind team-mate di Grassi in second, but with others using their attack modes later on, he dropped down to ninth, while André Lotterer took the final point for the Tag Heuer Porsche Formula E Team.
Lotterer had earlier made contact with Jaguar Racing’s Sam Bird, with the Briton retiring a few laps later on the start and finish straight with a suspected driveshaft failure. It brought out the safety car and saw the Briton suffer another poor day as he bids for the title, but at least he remains in contention after pre-race leader de Vries ended well outside the points himself.
From nineteenth on the grid, de Vries had moved up the order and was running just outside the top ten when the Mercedes-EQ Formula E Team driver made contact with Mahindra Racing’s Alex Lynn. De Vries pitted for repairs and ended a lap twenty-second, while Robin Frijns, second in the championship going into the day, could only finish fifteenth for Envision Virgin Racing after starting twenty-third.
Porsche’s Pascal Wehrlein was another driver to drop down the order after needing to pit with a puncture after contact with Nissan e.dams’ Oliver Rowland.
With de Vries failing to score but remaining on top of the championship, fourteen drivers remain mathematically in with a chance of taking the crown in Sunday’s second race of the weekend in Berlin, which will be run on the reverse layout of the Tempelhof circuit.
De Vries holds a three-point advantage over Mortara heading into Sunday’s finale, with Dennis a further point back in third and Evans another point behind in fourth. Frijns is only six points behind his countryman in fifth, while di Grassi’s victory has propelled him up to sixth, just eight points behind de Vries and one ahead of Félix da Costa.
Berlin E-Prix Race 1 Result
|1||11||Lucas di Grassi||BRZ||Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler||46:22.528|
|2||48||Edoardo Mortara||CHE||ROKIT Venturi Racing||+0.141|
|3||20||Mitch Evans||NZL||Jaguar Racing||+5.499|
|4||71||Norman Nato||FRA||ROKIT Venturi Racing||+5.589|
|5||27||Jake Dennis||GBR||BMW i Andretti Motorsport||+5.830|
|6||25||Jean-Éric Vergne||FRA||DS Techeetah||+6.411|
|7||13||António Félix da Costa||POR||DS Techeetah||+6.777|
|8||28||Maximilian Günther||GER||BMW i Andretti Motorsport||+7.562|
|9||33||René Rast||GER||Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler||+7.798|
|10||36||André Lotterer||GER||TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team||+14.124|
|11||23||Sébastien Buemi||CHE||Nissan e.DAMS||+15.546|
|12||5||Stoffel Vandoorne||BEL||Mercedes-EQ Formula E Team||+16.214|
|13||22||Oliver Rowland||GBR||Nissan e.DAMS||+16.814|
|14||37||Nick Cassidy||NZL||Envision Virgin Racing||+16.917|
|15||4||Robin Frijns||NED||Envision Virgin Racing||+21.278|
|16||6||Joel Eriksson||SWE||Dragon/Penske Autosport||+23.666|
|17||29||Alexander Sims||GBR||Mahindra Racing||+29.019|
|18||7||Sérgio Sette Câmara||BRZ||Dragon/Penske Autosport||+30.962|
|19||8||Oliver Turvey||GBR||NIO 333 FE Team||+33.199|
|20||94||Alex Lynn||GBR||Mahindra Racing||+33.438|
|21||99||Pascal Wehrlein||GER||TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team||+33.781|
|22||17||Nyck de Vries||NED||Mercedes-EQ Formula E Team||+1 Lap|
|NC||88||Tom Blomqvist||GBR||NIO 333 FE Team||+6 Laps|
|RET||10||Sam Bird||GBR||Jaguar Racing||Retired|