Berlin E-Prix: Gunther takes narrow win over Frijns

BMW’s Maximilian Gunther won the third Berlin E-Prix on Saturday evening at Tempelhof Airport, overtaking poleman Jean-Eric Vergne and then just fending off a charging Robin Frijns to the finish line.

Berlin E-Prix: Gunther takes narrow win over Frijns

Gunther, 22, managed his energy expertly to mount a late surge and pass Vergne but was forced to defend from Frijns in the final corners to score his second series win. 

A strong getaway for Jerome D’Ambrosio in third meant he passed Gunther into Turn 1, which allowed DS Techeetah driver Vergne to escape by an early 2s advantage. Gunther returned the favour on D’Ambrosio on lap two, sending his car up the inside of Turn 6 in an opening phase that became processional until a multi-car crash on lap 11.

Alexander Sims lunged down the inside of Sergio Sette Camara into the Turn 9 hairpin but the Dragon driver ran too deep and spun James Calado.  As Sette Camara recovered to exit the corner he suffered a quick drive failure and pulled over to the inside of the track to keep off line.

Here, however, he tagged Calado’s Jaguar team-mate Mitch Evans lightly. In turn, that left Porsche driver Neel Jani with nowhere to go and he clattered into the side of Sette Camara, and both retired.

Once the safety car peeled in, Vergne would activate his first of two 35kW attack mode boosts to build a comparatively comfortable 1.7s cushion over Gunther. 

When Gunther’s second attack mode ran out more than a minute ahead of Vergne’s it looked as though he had squandered his chance for the victory. But a malfunctioning re-gen paddle for Vergne meant he over-consumed energy while using the higher power mode, which dropped him into the clutches of Gunther.

On lap 30, Gunther – who this season has either won, finished second, or failed to score a point – lined his car up out of the final corner to get a great drive and sail past into Turn 1. After a brief wheel-bang, Vergne still had the inside line to reclaim his position after the shortest of stints in second place.

That left Gunther to tuck into the DS Techeetah’s slipstream and save energy, at the expense of rising battery temperatures.  Vergne defended into Turn 6, which afford Gunther the opportunity to cut back into the next corner and from there he took the lead.

Envision Virgin Racing driver Frijns, meanwhile, had a 1% energy cushion in hand over the top two and demoted Vergne into Turn 1. 

Frijns, who started fifth, ran Gunther close and attempted to pass at Turns 9 and 10 on the final lap but missed out by just 0.128s across the line.  That left Vergne to fight off his runaway points-leading team-mate Antonio Felix da Costa to complete the podium.

Da Costa was content to maintain eighth in the first half of the race but picked off Alex Lynn with a dummy into Turn 10 and then gained another place when nearest title rival Stoffel Vandoorne sustained a puncture.

The late DS Techeetah scrap allowed Andre Lotterer to close, but he would stay behind in fifth ahead of Nissan driver Oliver Rowland and D’Ambrosio.

The Mahindra Racing pilot’s early promise was overturned by his poor attack mode timing, which meant as he returned to the racing line he was boxed in and dropped back.

Lucas di Grassi was lucky when the stewards decided it was Felipe Massa at fault in their Turn 1 shunt – which spun di Grassi after his heavy defensive swerve across the front of the Venturi – and he finished eighth.

A late string of fastest laps finally delivered the return of Jaguar’s pace, enabling Evans to finish in ninth ahead of Sims. 

Cla Driver Team Laps Time Gap Interval km/h
1 Germany Maximilian Gunther United States Andretti Autosport 35 46'15.512     106.9
2 Netherlands Robin Frijns United Kingdom Virgin Racing 35 46'15.640 0.128 0.128 106.9
3 France Jean-Eric Vergne China Techeetah 35 46'18.081 2.569 2.441 106.8
4 Portugal Antonio Felix da Costa China Techeetah 35 46'18.255 2.743 0.174 106.8
5 Germany Andre Lotterer Germany Porsche Team 35 46'18.648 3.136 0.393 106.8
6 United Kingdom Oliver Rowland France DAMS 35 46'21.059 5.547 2.411 106.7
7 Belgium Jérôme d'Ambrosio India Mahindra Racing 35 46'23.405 7.893 2.346 106.6
8 Brazil Lucas di Grassi Germany Team Abt 35 46'28.184 12.672 4.779 106.4
9 New Zealand Mitch Evans United Kingdom Jaguar Racing 35 46'29.023 13.511 0.839 106.4
10 United Kingdom Alexander Sims United States Andretti Autosport 35 46'34.760 19.248 5.737 106.2
11 Switzerland Sébastien Buemi France DAMS 35 46'35.752 20.240 0.992 106.1
12 Switzerland Nico Müller United States Dragon Racing 35 46'35.998 20.486 0.246 106.1
13 United Kingdom Sam Bird United Kingdom Virgin Racing 35 46'36.245 20.733 0.247 106.1
14 Switzerland Edoardo Mortara Monaco Venturi 35 46'36.456 20.944 0.211 106.1
15 Germany Daniel Abt United Kingdom NIO Formula E Team 35 46'37.460 21.948 1.004 106.1
16 Netherlands Nyck de Vries Germany Mercedes 35 46'38.032 22.520 0.572 106.0
17 United Kingdom Oliver Turvey United Kingdom NIO Formula E Team 35 46'38.286 22.774 0.254 106.0
18 United Kingdom Alex Lynn India Mahindra Racing 35 46'38.693 23.181 0.407 106.0
19 Brazil Felipe Massa Monaco Venturi 35 46'52.061 36.549 13.368 105.5
  Germany René Rast Germany Team Abt 30 40'43.236 5 Laps 5 Laps  
  Belgium Stoffel Vandoorne Germany Mercedes 17 25'21.594 18 Laps 13 Laps  
  United Kingdom James Calado United Kingdom Jaguar Racing 13 18'44.195 22 Laps 4 Laps  
  Brazil Sergio Sette Camara United States Dragon Racing 10 11'55.957 25 Laps 3 Laps  
  Switzerland Neel Jani Germany Porsche Team 10 11'57.678 25 Laps 1.721  
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Berlin E-Prix: Vergne takes pole by almost half a second
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