Pole-position, fastest lap and a victory in front of his home crowd: Daniel Abt had a lot to celebrate on this sunny Saturday in Berlin as he won the race ahead of teammate Lucas di Grassi and championship leader Jean-Eric Vergne.
Formula E has been back on the historic grounds of Berlin Tempelhof and following a rather cold and cloudy shakedown on Friday, the sun and summer-like temperatures greeted the drivers, teams and fans just in time for the race. Once all lined up, all eyes were on local hero and pole-sitter Daniel Abt (Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler) who secured his second Formula E pole-position earlier on.
And the German did not disappoint his home crowd: As soon as the red lights went off, Abt managed to defend his lead ahead of Oliver Turvey (NIO Formula E) and Jean-Eric Vergne (TECHEETAH) while teammate and reigning Formula E champion Lucas di Grassi had no chance against a cleverly-aggressive Jerome d’Ambrosio (DRAGON) who squeezed himself past the Brazilian in turn one – and managed to get past Vergne as well. The Frenchman regained his position just one lap later, but not every driver was as lucky during the first few kilometres of this year’s Berlin E-Prix.
Felix Rosenqvist (Mahindra Racing) secured a solid and promising sixth place in qualifying and had the chance to collect another podium in the German capital city. Nevertheless, the Swede travelled far into the run-off area in turn 1, losing valuable positions and dropping outside of the top-ten. But even without the Mahindra Racing driver and his entertaining driving style, things did not get boring among the four drivers in front.
While Abt was basically out of sight of his chasers, di Grassi first took back his position from d’Ambrosio and then put on a great fight with current championship leader Vergne, overtaking the Frenchman a few laps later as well. Sebastien Buemi (Renault e.dams) was able to match the Brazilian’s speed and followed him promptly once he made his way past Vergne.
Meanwhile, further down the field, the two Mahindra Racing drivers Rosenqvist and Heidfeld were putting on a great show for the fans, showing some really aggressive and brave overtaking manoeuvres. Especially the local hero and former Formula 1-driver was able to show what he is capable of, slowly making his way into the top-ten.
Back with the leading pack, Turvey was still able to defend his second place against di Grassi but it was only a matter of time until the Brazilian would find a way past the NIO-Brit who could not match the Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler’s pace. Di Grassi eventually passed him, starting his pursuit of teammate Abt.
With 23 laps to go, Turvey was the first driver to make the swap into his second car – and d’Ambrosio, Heidfeld and Jose-Maria Lopez (DRAGON) followed the Brit’s example. The remaining drivers jumped into their second car just one lap later and Abt regained his lead ahead of di Grassi and Turvey. Nevertheless, the German lost nearly three seconds in the pits which means it was a close battle between the two Audi Sport ABT Schaefflers. Behind the third-placed Turvey, Buemi and Vergne were still fighting an intense battle for P4, which had resulted in some minor contact in turn 1 right before heading into the pits.
Within five laps, Abt was able to build up a comfortable two-second gap between himself and teammate di Grassi, while Turvey found himself more than nine seconds behind the leading duo. The Brit actually had to handle a lot of pressure from Buemi right behind him who was trying to find a way past the NIO Formula E driver for several laps. He finally squeezed himself past the Brit in turn ten and Vergne used Turvey’s moment of weakness as well, the NIO driver thus dropping to P5. With Buemi apparently feeling save in P3, Vergne made a brilliant move up the inside of the Swiss, surprising him and regaining P3.
At the end of the top-ten, Edoardo Mortara’s Venturi Formula E replacement Tom Dillmann put his Formula E experience to good use and showed a strong manoeuvre against d’Ambrosio that put him into P10. With three laps to go, a train of five drivers – starting with Lopez in P9 – dished up a lot of action, showing close wheel-to-wheel battles that put Dillmann back into P13 behind Nelson Piquet JR (Panasonic Jaguar Racing) and the Mahindra Racing duo. Just one lap later, Piquet JR and Lopez went wide in turn one and Lopez then went into turn three backwards, causing some disruption and putting Heidfeld in P9, Rosenqvist in P10.
Meanwhile in front, Abt crossed the line as a dominating victor ahead of teammate di Grassi and Vergne, who was able to expand his championship lead to 40 points.
— e-racing.net (@eracing_net) 19 May 2018