The penultimate round of the 2020/2021 FIA Formula E World Championship saw Lucas di Grassi seal home-win for Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler in the BMW i Berlin E-Prix presented by CBMM Niobium after securing victory in the first of two races on the final weekend. F1Technical's Balázs Szabó is reporting from the Berlin FE paddock.
The Brazilian put in a red-hot performance in the searing heat of the German capital to force himself into title contention, with ROKiT Venturi Racing’s Edoardo Mortara finishing second and Jaguar Racing’s Mitch Evans taking third. For championship leaders, Mercedes and Nyck de Vries, today has been an alarming day as the German manufacturer failed to score a single championship point.
ROKiT Venturi Racing Team
Susie Wolff, ROKiT Venturi Racing Team Principal: “Coming into this weekend, we knew that we needed to score a big haul of points. We knew what we had to do, we remained focussed, and Edo and Norman delivered a brilliant race and the result is down to an incredible team effort.
„Our use of Attack Mode proved to be crucial to the end result and if we were a bit riskier, we could have had both cars on the podium but in the end, we’ll take P2 and P4. This was a strong first day in Berlin but now our full focus is on tomorrow and we’re starting from zero again.”
Edoardo Mortara: “Heading into this weekend, being in championship contention on Sunday was the always the goal and because of today’s result, we’re now in that position. P2 is a great result not only for me but also the team and we’ve continued to show just how strong our race pace can be this season. Going into the final laps, I knew that it was going to be difficult to overtake Lucas [di Grassi].
„I tried to put him under pressure, but unfortunately he didn’t put a foot wrong. Even though we’re on the podium, we have to stay quite grounded and we can’t be too happy because we still have a lot of work to do and tomorrow, we fight for the World Championship. Hopefully, by the end of Sunday, we can celebrate a bit more.”
Norman Nato:“On paper, today was quite a good race for me. On this circuit, we know that energy management is extremely tricky and at the beginning, we were all trying to stay in the slipstream so we could under consume and be in a better position for the second half. Everything was very much under control and by using Attack Mode at the right time, we were in a very good position but I feel that there were parts of the strategy where we could have done better.
„It’s a bit frustrating because the pace was so good, we have a race winning car and I think we missed out on a double podium. We have scored a good haul of points and I hope for even better tomorrow.”
Mercedes-EQ Formula E Team
It was a tough race day in Berlin for the Mercedes-EQ Formula E Team: Stoffel Vandoorne and Nyck de Vries finished the penultimate race of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship season 12th and 22nd respectively.
Ian James, Team Principal: "Today was a challenging day for the team. It was always going to be challenging of course, with the field so close together. What we didn't expect however, is that we would make our own lives more difficult by making some mistakes in our approach for qualifying. What followed was a race where we would have to fight our way to the front; a difficult fight.
„During the race, there were other obstacles on our way to the points. Damage to Nyck's car, in the form of a tyre puncture, saw him fall back to the back of the pack after having to pit for a new tyre. This played a key factor in how our race unfolded after that, as points were initially most certainly within reach for him and the team. Stoffel had his own battle to fight - coming from the far back in P22. He managed to make up 10 positions in the race, but that unfortunately wasn't enough to score any points.
„We will now need to take the learnings from today, and improve those areas we know we need to improve. We've got a good understanding already of what we will need to work on. We can also take some comfort out of the pace we have seen in the car during the race and the fact that Nyck is still leading the championship. Looking at Venturi's performance confirms that the package we have is very strong - and congratulations to them on a fantastic race! If we can deliver tomorrow, it will pay off big time. The team is still in a position to end this season on the highest high possible, and that is our goal."
Stoffel Vandoorne: "Today was tough. We found ourselves at the back of the grid after a difficult time in qualifying. We were able to fight our way forwards during the race. I gained ten positions, and so in the end, came home in twelfth place just outside of the points.
„And at the same time, I had perhaps one of the fastest cars on the track. Our focus now is on tomorrow's race, in which we are still fighting for the team championship. However, we'll have to sort out our qualifying first. I think we'll have a better race tomorrow if we can start from further up the grid."
Nyck de Vries: "Unfortunately, we didn't manage to score any points today. We made life difficult for ourselves in qualifying because we qualified at the rear of the field, which affected our entire day. When you start from the back, there's always the risk of contact and of being involved in a collision, and that's exactly what happened.
„We were having a good race up until then and could possibly have taken a point, but I got hit by another car. One of my tyre valves was damaged and I had a puncture. Shame, but that's just the way it is. As far as tomorrow goes, it's heads down and push hard!"
Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler
Lucas di Grassi claimed victory at the Saturday Formula E race in Berlin. For Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler it was already the third triumph in front of the home crowd after 2018 and 2019.
Lucas di Grassi: “The first free practice on Friday was difficult. The team did a great job overnight. The car felt fantastic today. Thanks for that! After I took the lead, it was all about keeping Edo behind me. It wasn’t easy and I had to fight until the last corner, but we made it.”
René Rast: “I worked my way to the front pretty well. But of course I knew that I wouldn’t be able to defend the position when the other drivers use their Attack Modes. It would have been possible to get a better result if I could have got past Lucas.”
Porsche Formula E Team
Amiel Lindesay, Head of Operations Formula E: “Today wasn’t our day. We’d definitely expected more at our home race. But through no fault of their own, things didn’t go so well for our drivers. A competitor hit the rear of Pascal’s car and he had to pit for a tyre change. Although the crew did a good job and got him back on the track within the same lap, the gap to the top was still too big.
"André drove a solid race and made up several positions. Unluckily, the safety car was deployed during his attack mode, so he wasn’t able to use a large portion of his extra energy. All in all, that was a difficult day for us. We’ll analyse everything during the night to see what we can improve on for tomorrow.”
André Lotterer, Porsche works driver (#36): “That wasn’t an easy race. I got away well at the start but was held up in the traffic a bit. I managed to quickly regain my position and was really pleased with my car. But when the safety car came out on the track, I still had two minutes left in attack mode, and that obviously prevented me from catching the leaders and achieving an even better result. Tomorrow we’ll try to start the race further up the grid. Then a successful end of the season is possible, which the team definitely deserves.”
Pascal Wehrlein, Porsche works driver (#99): “The race actually started pretty well. My start was good. I was in attack mode when Oliver (Rowland) hit my car and damaged my left rear tyre. As a result, I had to pit and lost almost a lap. I couldn’t do a thing from this position. It’s a shame, but I have to now let that go. I’ll attack again at tomorrow’s final round of the season.”
Despite their brilliant form in the qualifying session for Satuday's Berlin E-Prix, Round 14 of the 2020/2021 FE season turned out to be a difficult race for the DS Techeetah team. However, six teams are still in contention for the Teams’ title, with the Chinese outfit now second, only 5 points from the top. In the Drivers’ standings, António Félix Da Costa, who today finished 7th, is 7th , only 9 points behind the leader, while Jean-Éric Vergne, today 6th, is 9th, 15 points from the top.
Jean-Éric Vergne: "Not the best race today, honestly. It was good in the first part, as we were leading, but after the team order to swap cars, I found myself in traffic, against a lot of cars in their attack mode, and I lost a lot of time in the process, eventually taking P6. It’s a shame but we still have one race tomorrow, and we still have good chances. Now, let’s reset the mind and get ready for the decisive race.”
António Félix da Costa: It was a good day up until half-way in the race, then we struggled a bit, with energy and tyre management. It was a difficult end of the race, but still, we could score some points and reduce the gaps in the standings. We are still alive and we’ll try again tomorrow!”
“Everything is possible, just need to reset the mind for tomorrow and go on again.”@JeanEricVergne remains in #ABBFormulaE title contention and will be ready to race tomorrow 💪#BerlinEPrix #DSTecheetah pic.twitter.com/MtOoP7mkYL— TECHEETAH (@TECHEETAH_) August 14, 2021
Drivers will be back on track for the final round of the season of the 2020/21 ABB FIA Formula E World Championship tomorrow, Sunday (start time 15:34 local).