Formula E: Mortara withstands pressure to win Berlin E-Prix

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ROKiT Venturi Racing driver Edoardo Mortara fended off a series of rivals to convert his maiden Formula E pole position into a victory at the first round of this weekend’s Berlin E-Prix double-header event. F1Technical's Balázs Szabó reports on Round 7 of the 2021/2022 ABB FIA Formula E World Championship from the Berlin Formula E paddock.

The Swiss-born driver took the first Formula E pole position of his career, beating Mahindra’s Alexander Sims in a nail-biting qualifying session on Saturday morning. The 35-year-old driver had a good getaway at the start, managing to keep the lead from Sims.

On the contrary, championship leader Stoffel Vandoorne had a dismal start, dropping from P8 down to P12 behind his team mate Nyck de Vries.

While he looked blindingly fast in qualifying, after just two laps, second-placed Sims appeared to be unable to keep up with the pace of the leading group and he lost out to Antonio Felix da Costa. The Briton lost another position as Porsche racer Andre Lotterer also overtook Sims.

The real battle at the front began when driver started to activate their attack modes. Lotterer went through the loop to activate his own first power boost, losing a few spots before moving up the order again thanks to the additional power.

While the top drivers battler each other at the sharp end of the field, Vandoorne managed to work his way back to sixth come Lap 19.

Mortara used his first attack mode much later than his direct rivals. When the Swiss driver activated the power boost with just over 20 minutes to go, he lost the lead for a short period of time. The Venturi driver regained the lead on the next lap with Lotterer, Sims, Vergne, da Costa and Vandoorne following him in the order.

Lotterer, Vandoorne and Mortara kept their second attack mode for the end of the race. When the German took his last four-minute 30kW power boost a lap before Vandoorne.

While the pair battled it out in P2 and P3, Mortara also decided to go through the attack zone on Lap 30. As the Swiss racer did not have a big enough gap, Lotterer and Vandoorne managed to make it by. However, Mortara had attack more for further two minutes after Vandoorne’s own power boost ran out.

The Geneva-born driver made good of the additional energy, going past his two main rivals. Interestingly, Mortara could not escape from the second-placed Vandoorne despite his higher power mode.

In the meantime, two-time Formula E champion Verge got past Lotterer to take P3 before using his FANBOOST deployment to slice by Vandoorne at Turn 6.

The Frenchman firmly believed that he had a chance of fighting for victory and closed in on Mortara for the dying minutes of the race. Vergne attempted an overtaking manoeuvre on Mortara on Lap 37, but he could not succeed.

As a result of the tussle between Vergne and Mortara, the latter could espace while the former needed to switch to defensive mode to fend off the attacks from Vandoorne.

Mortara cruised on the last two laps to secure a hard-earned victory with Vergne and Vandoorne taking P2 and P3 respectively. Lotterer snatched P4, beating Jaguar’s Mitch Evans and his team mate Pascal Wehrlein. Sam Bird finished the Saturday race in Berlin in P7 just ahead of Felix da Costa. Following his strong qualifying performance, Sims took ninth with de Vries rounding out the top ten.

Race winner Mortara commented: "What a day. After the qualifying we were already very happy, but this race was amazing, very stressful because there were different strategies that I had to defend. In the end everything went alright, and I'm very happy.

"You have to ask him [Vergne] about what happened at the end! He tried to overtake me but I was kind of anticipating it, but luckily for me he couldn't really stop at the apex of the corner, and I couldn't pass him straight away, and I knew that he had spent a lot of energy so it would be difficult for him to pass me again.

"The good thing about Formula E is you need to constantly change your strategy, obviously you have a plan at the beginning of the race but nothing goes according to plan and you always need to adapt, as the others are trying to destabilise you, but in the end everything worked out very well for us," the Venturi racer concluded.