BERLIN, Germany – Nissan e.dams’ Oliver Rowland secured his first Formula E victory during Wednesday’s round at the Tempelhof Airport.
Rowland led from start to finish in the penultimate round of the season, beating Envision Virgin Racing’s Robin Frijns and Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler’s Rene Rast to the checkered flag.
Rowland started from the pole and got off the line well and Frijns followed suit. Lotterer was the best off-the-line, climbing two spots to fifth on the opening lap.
Oliver Turvey, Nyck de Vries and Sam Bird were all caught up amongst themselves midway through the field, spitting Bird into a half spin. Each took a hit but were able to carry on without trouble.
Of the four champions starting from the back of the pack following an earlier qualifying issue, Antonio Felix da Costa managed the biggest gain – making his way up to 16th in the opening laps.
Lucas di Grassi found himself in contact with BMW’s Max Guenther in mid-pack, causing a right-rear puncture which put the German out of the race on lap two.
The lead trio of Rowland, Frijns and Neel Jani strung out a gap to the group behind, with Lotterer progressing further with a dive up the inside of Alex Lynn into the final turn on lap five.
On lap seven, da Costa and di Grassi were in a scrap for 15th as both looked to progress towards the points. The di Grassi put the squeeze on da Costa into turn one and contact was inevitable with the Portuguese unable to disappear. Di Grassi was once again sent spinning down the order in Berlin – this time with a puncture for good measure.
On lap 14, Stoffel Vandoorne’s quiet move through the pack continued with a pass on Felipe Massa for 11th.
Lotterer looked to be making the most of the strife suffered by the rest of the drivers vying for second and had caught teammate Jani, running third, by lap 18. The German moved by the Swiss a couple of laps later, with Jani taking his second helping of the 35 kW Attack Mode boost whilst Lotterer had yet to jump into the activation zone – moving to third as a result.
Next through the zone was leader Rowland, along with Frijns and Lotterer, the latter having retained that third position by utilizing a bit of the FanBoost to ensure he’d remain ahead of Jani, but Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler’s Rast surprised the both of them to sneak by into third. It would only last a lap though, as into turn one with 14 minutes plus one lap to run, Lotterer regained the position. This wouldn’t be the last of it, though.
Rowland was cool and calm out front – keeping Frijns, Lotterer, Rast, Jani and Lynn honest without much trouble in a Nissan IM02 that has become increasingly attuned to the demands of Tempelhof.
Buemi in the sister Nissan, meanwhile, was carving his way through the field. First, an opportunistic move on Alex Sims for 12th, then, he utilized that Attack Mode boost to outdrive da Costa over the start/finish line for 11th – on the cusp of scoring some crucial points. Just two laps later, Buemi had reached the Jaguar Panasonic Racing of Blomqvist, slicing by in quick-time for 10th.
Lotterer and Rast were the last of the front-runners to use their second dose of Attack Mode, staying in third and fourth, respectively, with just over five minutes plus a lap to run. The pair scrapped hard through every one of the final few tours, with Porsche instructing Lotterer to switch his 99x Electric into a more defensive energy deployment mode.
Rast threw all sorts of shapes in a bid to get by. On the last lap, an aggressive dive saw him finally get the move done, and he was able to hold off the Porsche over the line for his first Formula E podium, following Rowland and Frijns home.
“It’s hard in this game,” said Rowland. “If you lose confidence it can really hit you with the field as close as it is. There’s been many times this year I’ve lacked a couple of tenths and I’ve slowly built it up.
“Super Pole was another step and everything’s now coming together. The car’s fantastic and I can’t thank the team enough. To win against 23 other guys in an enviroment as competitive as this is just unbelievable.”
Lotterer took the chequered flag fourth, with Alex Lynn (Mahindra Racing) highlighting his increasing energy management nous to steal fifth from Jani on the final tour.