Following a five-month shutdown, the FIA ABB Formula E returned to action Wednesday at the Berlin Templehof Airport located in Berlin, Germany.
Hoping to pick up where he left off was DS Techeeta driver Antonio Felix da Costa, who qualified on pole with a time of 1.06.799. Following in his footsteps was Costa’s teammate, Jean-Eric Vergne as he qualified on the outside pole, giving DS Techeeta a front-row start.
Da Costa was able to lead the field into turn 1 and pull away ever so slightly. While the Portuguese driver checked out on the field, the action picked up behind him. In fact, two safety cars were deployed early in the going. One for Robin Frijins for crashing into the wall and a full course caution for Felipe Massa, as Massa slammed into one of the wall cushions leaving the Brazilian stuck on the track.
“I just tried to overtake and I locked everything,” Massa said about the crash. “When I brake, I lock everything in the car, I couldn’t turn and the car couldn’t stop. I went straight and I crashed (into the wall).”
As for the Robin Frijins incident, Edoardo Mortara caused the collision for Frijin’s which saw him receive major damage to his vehicle after being pushed out by the No. 20 of Mitch Evans. By doing so, Mortara received two penalty points for the incident.
Despite the two quick stoppages, da Costa continued his pace and led wire to wire in Formula E’s first race back following the coronavirus pandemic.
“With six races to go, the fight for the title is on and the pressure is rising,” da Costa said about the victory. “I do want to win it and if we keep doing things as we did today, we have a good shot at it. Hats off to the team not only for what they did today, but for the hard work they put into the build-up to this moment. I moved here because I wanted a quicker car since I want to put myself in a position to win races. We’re going to have bad days just like everyone else, but it’s how we come back from those that defines us.”
Even though da Costa was in a zip code of his own. There was plenty of action that occurred throughout the 45 minute event.
Prior to the start of the race, Formula E held a moment of silence, paying tribute to coronavirus victims and racism that is occurring all around the country currently.
With racing back in action, that also meant fan boost was back as well (giving drivers extra energy to their cars). Those receiving fan boosts were Daniel Abt, Stoffel Vandoorne, race winner Antonio Felix da Costa, Sergio Sette Camara, and Rene Rast.
As the lights went out, Nissan e.Dams driver Oliver Rowland and Panasonic Jaguar’s Mitch Evans were both posted for component changes. Both drivers served a drive-thru penalty. More news came out of Rowland’s camp, as the team requested for an inverter change. As a result, Rowland will start at the back of the grid, should the team go on to do so. The same can be said for James Calado in the Panasonic Jaguar Racing entry, with the team requesting to change inverter and the battery pack.
By lap 15, drivers were already trying to use the attack mode (which gives them four additional minutes of power to their cars) but proved tricky to do so. For instance, Sebastien Buemi in the Nissan entry tried using the attack mode, but missed the section completely and had to try again a lap later. Other drivers had the same situation, but for the most part, all were able to use the mode to their advantage.
As the race began to wind down, so didn’t Jean Eric-Vergne. Eric-Vergne began to lose power to his car and started to fall back in hopes of a podium. By falling back and the corners so tight, this created a long jam for drivers behind Eric-Vergne trying to pass him. Unfortunately for Eric-Vergne, the issue would get only worse, for when he finished the even unclassified (i.e. not finished). However, with Eric-Vergne not being able to finish, Andre Lotterer picked up momentum late in the going and made some moves to finish second, thus earning a podium finish.
Even though Lotterer had momentum late, it wouldn’t have made a difference as most cars ran out of power crossing the finish line including race winner da Costa. Still, the podium finish was Lotterer’s best since the race of the season back in Riydah.
“P2 is good starting point, but I have some mixed feelings about missing the first ATTACK MODE as it put me in a difficult position,” Lotterer said regarding his podium finish. “I had a good car and maybe without that slip, I could’ve challenged Antonio. We’ll keep working hard and hopefully, the car will be as good as it was today.”
Sam Bird also gained his best podium result since winning the season opener at Riydah.
“I am very pleased with the team and the result,” Bird said. “It’s been a bit of a rocky year for us, hopefully, today will mark a restart of the season. I am a bit disappointed for not finishing in P2, but I was low on energy in the last couple of laps. There is still some work to do on the car, but we have a good base ready for tomorrow.”
Though for some drivers, they received penalties and disqualifications from the race. The disqualification especially goes for BMW i Andretti’s Maximilian Guenther, who was disqualified by series officials for using too much power. Guenther had used over 45kWh (the maximum any race driver can use). Gunther originally finished eighth in the running order.
Meanwhile, Sergio Sette Camara was disqualified for using power over 45kWh as well. Sette Camara received the fan boost prior to the start of the race.
Daniel Abt in the NIO 333 entry was penalized during the full-course caution for speeding. Therefore, he was given a five-second time penalty.
Official Results following Race No. 1 at Berlin
- Antonio Felix da Costa, 30 points
- Andre Lotterer, 18 points
- Sam Bird, 15 points
- Nyck de Vries, 12 points
- Jereome D’ Ambrosio, 10 points
- Stoffel Vandoorne, 8 points
- Sebastien Buemi, 6 points
- Lucas di Grassi, 4 points
- Alexander Sims, 2 points
- Rene Rast, 1 points
- Edoardo Mortara
- Neel Jani
- Alex Lynn
- Mitch Evans
- Oliver Rowland
- James Calado
- Oliver Turvey
- Daniel Abt
- Sergio Sette Camara
- Maximilian Guenther, OUT, Disqualified
- Jean Eric-Vergne, OUT, Driver Excluded From Race
- Nico Mueller, OUT, Driver Excluded From Race
- Felipe Massa, OUT, Did Not Finish
- Robin Frijins, OUT, Did Not Finish
Up Next: The FIA ABB Formula E will remain in Berlin for race No. 2 Thursday at 1 p.m./EDT USA time, 6:30 p.m./local Berlin time live on Fox Sports 2.