BMW i Andretti Motorsport's Maximilian Guenther clinched a hard-earned victory at yesterday’s Santiago ePix to become the youngest Formula E winner in history.
Chile’s capital Santiago played host to the third race of the 2019/2020 FIA ABB Formula E Championship, the Antofagasta Minerals Santiago E-Prix. Conditions were extremely tough for drivers and the machines yesterday as record temperatures were registered across the city, the 2019 Santiago race was one of the hottest and challenging on record. The air temperatures climbed above 33 Celsius degrees and the high humidity created another challenging factor for drivers to master.
Alex Lynn secured the pole position for the third Santiago ePrix and he could keep it when the lights went green. The start was relatively calm, but as the field arrived to the closing part of the circuit, cars touched each other vehemently to make up positions. As a consequence, Neel Jani had to dive into the pits for some repair while Alexander Sims’ car picked up a slight damage at the front wing.
With just only six minutes into the race, drivers started to activate their attack mode to make use of the extra 30 horsepower. The action was interrupted quite quickly as a full course yellow had to be deployed to clear the track after championship leader Sims’ car came to a halt. Just seconds after the the stricken BMW was pushed off the track, Oliver Rowland touched the rear end of the car of Sam Bird, sending the Envision Virgin machine into a spin. The Briton could continue, but dropped down the order as a consequence.
While the mid-field was battling hard, race leader Lynn could build a small advantage which was enough for him to go through the activation zone for the first time, without losing any places. While Rowland escaped any consequences of the the initial contact between himself and Bird, his front wing flew off comletely a few minutes later.
Heading into Turn 10 together, Massa was forced wide by his teammate, hitting the wall and dropping to seventh as both Jean-Eric Vergne and Antonio Felix da Costa could slip past.
In the meantime, Lucas di Grassi found himself in P13 as the clock signalled the mid-point of the race. The Brazilian had to aggressively make his way up the order after he only started the race from the 22th place following some traffic issues and a mistake on his flying lap in the qualifying session.
While Felipe Massa was slipping down the order after a promising starting position, the advantage of race leader Alex Lynn melted away. Maximilian Geunther closed in on the Briton and went for the lead slipping past Evans on the approach to Turn 9.
Battery temperatures rocketing
Just after the change at the sharp end of the field, Edoardo Mortara made a slight contact with da Costa which broke the suspension of the Swiss-Italian’s car. With 12 minutes left on the clock, Jean-Eric Vergne hit troubles as the front wing of his DS Techeetah car broke following a previous contact. The two-time champion tried to continue, but he had to reitre two laps later.
In the closing stages, da Costa seemed to have much better pace than his rivals which also allowed him to jump ship Evans for second place. The Portuguese driver also slip past Guenther in Turn 9 with an ambitious manoeuvre. However, the former GP3 front runner was instructed by his race engineer to keep his car cool when the battery temperatures got critical.
On the very last lap of the 40-lap race, Guenther stormed past Da Costa going into Turn 9, regaining his hard-earned lead. The German hang on to the lead with only two corners left to secure his maiden Formula E victory.
Vandoorne in control
After three races completed in season six of the all-electric Formula E Championship, Mercedes EQ driver Stoffel Vandoorne leads the Drivers’ Championship with 38 points gained in the first three rounds. The Belgian is yet to clinch a victory this year, but his consistency – two third places at Saudi Arabia and a sixth place at Santiago – lifted him to the top of the Standings. The dominant force of the first rounds, Alexander Sims who claimed two pole positions at Diriyah was forced to retire yesterday, but he is still second in the Standings.
Sam Bird, Maximilian Guenther, Lucas di Grassi, Oliver Rowland, Antonio Felix da Costa and Mitch Evens have all collected over twenty points, indicating that this year’s Formula E Championship could become one of the most fiercly fought battles that the series has seen in its six-year history.