Formula E

Berlin E-Prix: Vergne leads DS Techeetah 1-2, da Costa champion

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Berlin E-Prix: Vergne leads DS Techeetah 1-2, da Costa champion
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Jean-Eric Vergne won the fourth 2020 Berlin E-Prix at the Tempelhof Airport venue, after a perfect execution of team orders at DS Techeetah to fend off Nissan’s challenge.

Two orchestrated changes for position allowed the team to expertly manage the threat from Nissan e.dams. The result meant race runner-up Antonio Felix da Costa was crowned drivers' champion, with Techeetah claiming the teams' title. 

With the second swap allowing polesitter and race leader Vergne to return to first place, he led a team 1-2 over da Costa by 0.497s to score his first victory of the season. 

An equal launch for the top four on the grid spared a dramatic Turn 1, but the race was soon neutralised by a safety car after Saturday race winner Maximilian Gunther crashed. The BMW Andretti driver, starting 21st on the grid, lost out to NIO 333 driver Oliver Turvey via a brilliant inside pass on the approach to Turn 2. 

But as Sam Bird ran sluggishly through the Turn 3 apex, it forced Dragon Racing pilot Sergio Sette Camara to brake heavily and in-turn Turvey was forced to slow. That left Gunther to lock up his front wheels and career into the back of Turvey, who was able to continue, but the German driver was eliminated on the spot.

Vergne maintained a 0.4s ahead of da Costa and then led cleanly away at the restart, but was not able to shake his stablemate or the chasing Nissan of Oliver Rowland. On lap nine, Rowland and Buemi triggered an early use of their 35kW attack mode boost to fall back to the leading pair as Rowland joined briefly behind Mahindra Racing driver Alex Lynn.

He resumed the position on the next lap down the inside into Turn 6, as both DS Techeetahs responded by taking their first of two attack mode power boosts. Although Vergne narrowly rejoined in first place, it hurt da Costa as he was knocked to fourth by Rowland and Lynn.  

With one-minute more of the boost, da Costa regained his second spot after passing Rowland on the main straight into Turn 1 to quickly close back up to the rear of Vergne. On lap 13, a radio message for da Costa to “swap and attack” with Vergne allowed him to maintain a constant margin of 0.4s through the middle phase of the race.

With both cars running with 1% less useable energy than the Nissans, the pre-emptive move gave da Costa a buffer to Rowland and Buemi. Although the Nissans did close in a top-five chain trailed by Nyck de Vries, Rowland in third did not attempt an overtake.

That meant on lap 30, DS Techeetah ordered another uncontested change for position on the approach to Turn 1, from where Vergne led to the spoils to climb to second place in the points - having been only 12th after race two at the Tempelhof Airport circuit.

Nissan also asked its drivers to swap over, with Buemi holding an energy advantage over Rowland, but as Buemi passed into Turn 6 he missed the apex to delay the pair and ease the pressure on the top two. 

Buemi would retain his third place to the flag, as a late and aggressive lunge from de Vries on the final lap promoted him to fourth ahead of Rowland.

Lucas di Grassi was a distant sixth for Audi ahead of Jaguar’s Mitch Evans and Andre Lotterer. Lynn and Felipe Massa completed the top 10 ahead of Sam Bird, whose team-mate Robin Frijns failed to start the race after Envision Virgin Racing could not fire up the car.

Stoffel Vandoorne, after qualifying 20th, would climb to 12th ahead of Alexander Sims. 

Cla Driver Team Laps Time Gap Interval Points
1 France Jean-Eric Vergne China Techeetah 37 46'24.803     25
2 Portugal Antonio Felix da Costa China Techeetah 37 46'25.300 0.497 0.497 18
3 Switzerland Sébastien Buemi France DAMS 37 46'26.195 1.392 0.895 15
4 Netherlands Nyck de Vries Germany Mercedes 37 46'28.594 3.791 2.399 12
5 United Kingdom Oliver Rowland France DAMS 37 46'29.821 5.018 1.227 10
6 Brazil Lucas di Grassi Germany Team Abt 37 46'34.608 9.805 4.787 8
7 New Zealand Mitch Evans United Kingdom Jaguar Racing 37 46'39.617 14.814 5.009 6
8 Germany Andre Lotterer Germany Porsche Team 37 46'40.558 15.755 0.941 4
9 United Kingdom Alex Lynn India Mahindra Racing 37 46'45.804 21.001 5.246 2
10 Brazil Felipe Massa Monaco Venturi 37 46'47.612 22.809 1.808 1
11 United Kingdom Sam Bird United Kingdom Virgin Racing 37 46'47.714 22.911 0.102  
12 Belgium Stoffel Vandoorne Germany Mercedes 37 46'48.191 23.388 0.477  
13 United Kingdom Alexander Sims United States Andretti Autosport 37 46'48.378 23.575 0.187  
14 Switzerland Edoardo Mortara Monaco Venturi 37 46'48.692 23.889 0.314  
15 Belgium Jérôme d'Ambrosio India Mahindra Racing 37 46'48.717 23.914 0.025  
16 Germany René Rast Germany Team Abt 37 46'49.184 24.381 0.467  
17 United Kingdom James Calado United Kingdom Jaguar Racing 37 46'51.403 26.600 2.219  
18 Germany Daniel Abt United Kingdom NIO Formula E Team 37 46'53.924 29.121 2.521  
19 Switzerland Neel Jani Germany Porsche Team 37 46'54.330 29.527 0.406  
20 Switzerland Nico Müller United States Dragon Racing 37 46'59.234 34.431 4.904  
21 Brazil Sergio Sette Camara United States Dragon Racing 37 47'01.118 36.315 1.884  
22 United Kingdom Oliver Turvey United Kingdom NIO Formula E Team 37 47'26.276 1'01.473 25.158  
23 Germany Maximilian Gunther United States Andretti Autosport 0 0.000      
24 Netherlands Robin Frijns United Kingdom Virgin Racing 0 0.000      
Berlin E-Prix: Vergne pips teammate da Costa to take pole

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About this article

Series Formula E
Event Berlin ePrix IV
Author Matt Kew