BERLIN, Germany – Jean-Eric Vergne returned to the top step of the podium in Formula E competition Sunday at Berlin’s Tempelhof Airport while Antonio Felix da Costa locked up his first Formula E title with a runner-up result.
Vergne launched well from from the pole with da Costa following suit. Oliver Rowland fired off the line nicely and took a look at the lead pair on the run into turn one, but thought better of a move, whilst Mahindra Racing’s Alex Lynn completed a switchback on Felipe Massa to pinch sixth two turns later.
Down the order, da Costa’s closest rival Max Guenther got caught unsighted as the field bunched ahead of him, smashing the nose off of his iFE.20 and forcing the BMW i Safety Car into the fray.
A fairly calm restart followed with just more than 35 minutes to go. Thunderstorms were in the air as the field held station, as drops of rain fell in the pit-lane. The weather did hold off, though, leaving the drivers to it.
Rene Rast, Lynn and Felipe Massa were the first to jump into the Attack Mode activation zone, with Nyck de Vries following a lap later. The quartet fought over fifth with Lynn leading the way from de Vries, Rast and Massa when it all shook out.
The Nissan e.dams’ were next, with Rowland and Sebastien Buemi next opting to take the 35 kW boost, leaving them to slot back into that pack whilst Vergne and da Costa did likewise a lap later – the lead pair emerging first and third, now split by a charging Rowland.
Da Costa had enough in hand to retake second with a minute’s Attack Mode left to use, and sliced by Rowland on the next tour. The teamwork that both DS drivers referenced before the race was clear for all to see when the standings leader was allowed to trade places with Vergne for the lead at the half-way stage.
A little further back, Edo Mortara managed to squeeze by Panasonic Jaguar Racing’s James Calado into turn one for 12th, with BMW i Andretti Motorsport’s Alex Sims pulling the exact same move to pass Sam Bird for 14th – the BMW driver also sneaking by Calado to take 13th for good measure a lap later.
Mahindra’s Jerome D’Ambrosio was among the first to take a second dose of Attack Mode and made it count by stealing 10th and the final points-paying position from Rast. Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler’s Lucas di Grassi was also making up good ground – his latest move on Mitch Evans for seventh.
It was status quo at the head of the pack during the second phase of Attack Mode activations with the DS Techeetah duo of da Costa and Vergne leading the Nissan e.dams pairing of Rowland and Buemi, with di Grassi quietly dispatching Lynn to round out the top six with 10 minutes plus one lap to run.
The lead pair once again switched road order as they sought to optimise their remaining energy and fend off the Nissans just behind. Vergne now had the race lead from da Costa, Rowland and Buemi with de Vries joining the party. Di Grassi, meanwhile, was in a race of his own in sixth.
Massa flew up the inside of Evans into the final turn, repaying the Jaguar driver for a similar move earlier on lap 28. Tidily done from the Brazilian for seventh but Evans was able to make it back past as the clock ticked down, leading home Andre Lotterer and Lynn, whilst the ROKiT Venturi Racing man slipped to an eventual 10th.
Nissan e.dams employed the same team ethic as DS had displayed, as Rowland moved aside for Buemi who had more usable energy remaining and felt best placed to set about chasing the leaders.
Rowland was pipped by De Vries, however, with the Mercedes-Benz EQ man finding his way into fourth with a late dive half way around the final lap.
Vergne and da Costa were able to hold station under pressure from Buemi to take a DS Techeetah one-two, deciding the final destination of both the Drivers’ and Teams Championships in the process.
“I’m speechless. Sometimes I’ve been so close to giving up during the tough times, and thanks to the people around me I never did,” said da Costa. “I’m very grateful to these guys who believed in me and my capabilities, even when I was finishing nowhere near the podium. Massive thanks to JEV, I know this is hard for him, but he pushed me all the way and helped me out a lot and it’s mainly thanks to him I settled so quickly in the team. Today we had a plan and we executed it perfectly. JEV and myself helped each other out, but it was very intense at the end since both Seb and Oli were always there. Everyone was very fair today and raced as the champions they are.”