Following an incident-filled season finale at Berlin’s Tempelhof circuit, Venturi driver Norman Nato secured his maiden Formula E victory as Mercedes and Nyck de Vries sealed the series’ first World Championship titles. F1Technical's Balázs Szabó is reporting from the Berlin FE paddock.
The season finale at the Berlin Tempelhof track could have hardly been more exciting with 13 drivers heading into Round 15 of the 2020/2021 FIA Formula E World Championship with a mathematical chance for the title.
The drama unfolded right at the start as Jaguar Racing’s Mitch Evans, who was the biggest championship protagonist given his starting position, could not get off the line. Although most of the drivers were able to avoid the stricken Jaguar, another championship protagonist Edoardo Mortara could not swerve clear of Evans’ car and crashed into the back of the New-Zealander’s machine.
The Jaguar and the Venturi drivers were then out of the running, and the race direction decided to stop the race in order to clear the track.
When the race resumed, the next drama unfolded when another championship protagonist, Jake Dennis locked up into Turn 1 and hit the wall.
Just as yesterday, the attack mode had a real influence on the race happenings. However, in contrast to yesterday, drivers had two shorter attack modes at their disposal instead of one long power boost.
Venturi driver Norman Nato made use of his 35kW power boost by passing Vandoorne for the lead. The Belgian opted for a different attack mode strategy, activating his first extra boost later, which left him vulnerable. As a result of his strategy, he shuffled down the top six.
There was another incident when the race headed into the final ten minutes. Defending champion Antonio Felix da Costa and Lucas di Grassi came together with the incident forcing the Portuguese to retire. Race director Scot Elkins deployed the safety car to give marshals time to clear the stricken Techeetah.
After his hard-fought race win in yesterday’s opening Berlin race, the stewards found that di Grassi was to blame for the get-together with da Costa with the Brazilian receiving a drive-through penalty for his manoeuvre.
When the field was released, Nato had to defend hard from Rowland, but the Frenchman did that brilliantly. Following the restart, the Venturi driver managed to open a gap to his hunters.
In the meantime, Vandoorne managed to claw his way up the order by using his second attack mode later than his direct rivals.
In the end, Nato won by 2.2s ahead of Rowland, with Vandoorne completing the podium for the season-closing second Berlin race at the historic Tempelhof airport.
Porsche driver André Lotterer crossed the finish line in P4 following a fierce battle with Mahinda’s Alexander Sims. Lotterer’s team mate Pascal Wehrlein ended up sixth, followed by Jaguar driver Sam Bird.
De Vries finished only in P8, but that was enough for him to take the title after his main rivals in the battle for the championship title were eliminated or compromised in the early phases of the race. Audi’s Rene Rast and Nio 333’s Tom Blomqvist completed the top ten.
Although he only finished ninth, the same result that he took in yesterday’s race, Rast was the man again to set the TAG Heuer fastest race lap, securing the additional point. The German’s benchmark was a 1m08.486, which was actually a tenth slower than the fastest lap of his team mate Lucas di Grassi, who only finished down in P20 following a drive-through penalty.
Following the incident-packed race de Vries was at a loss for words, being clearly very happy by claiming the fully-electric series' first world championship title: "I’m lost for words. I’m sorry to get a little bit emotional. It’s been such a tough season with highs and lows.
"Everything came down to the last race. We’re glad everyone’s okay after the start but we drove and incredible race. I felt like a target at times and I just wanted to bring it home once I knew it was fine," de Vries said.