Formula E preview: Berlin
Written by Olly Radley, Edited by Sasha Macmillen
We’re approaching the halfway point of the Formula E season, and so far it’s been a thriller. We have four drivers beginning to emerge as championship contenders but a bad weekend at any point could see someone fall behind completely. Mercedes’ Stoffel Vandoorne leads the championship by six points to two-time champion Jean-Eric Vergne. Mitch Evans has scored 71 of his 72 points in the past three races which puts him in third with Robin Frijns a point behind in fourth. The top four have finished no lower than fifth in the past three races, and have built a 22-point buffer to the previous championship leader Edoardo Mortara in fifth.
The Berlin E-Prix has held a Formula E event every year since the inaugural season without fail, even hosting six races in nine days to close the Covid-affected Season 6. In every year bar 2016, the race has been held on the apron of the historic Berlin Tempelhof. The airport was one of the oldest airports in Berlin before it was shut in 2008 and repurposed for multiple different uses, one of them being the home of the Berlin E-Prix. The open space has allowed for the FE to use multiple different layouts with three layouts being used in 2020 including a reverse configuration of the current layout. The 10-corner circuit features multiple long straights as well as several heavy braking zones, providing us with lots of action.
Antonio Felix da Costa, Sebastien Buemi, and Lucas di Grassi are all two-time winners of the Berlin E-Prix with Buemi having four podiums at the Tempelhof circuit - the performance of his car this season, however, will probably prevent the Swissman from adding another trophy to his cabinet. All of the current top four in the championship have previously got a podium at Tempelhof with Evans and Vandoorne both getting a podium at the season finale in Berlin last season.
The Monaco E-Prix two weeks ago saw Vandoorne swoop the championship lead with a win ahead of Mitch Evans in second. While Mortara and the Porsches dropped points, the top four in the championship made up the top four at the end of the E-Prix. Stoffel Vandoorne, who has signed for DS Penske ahead of next season, won his first race of the season after capitalising on Pascal Wehrlein’s retirement from the lead with 20 minutes to go. The Belgian jumped previous leader Mitch Evans from the first attack mode and cruised home to the win and the championship lead.
Mitch Evans did the double in Rome and followed it up in Monaco with a 2nd place which skyrocketed the Kiwi from nowhere, to third in the championship. If Jaguar’s star driver can continue his form in Berlin he’ll surely swoop the championship lead away from Vandoorne, but it would be difficult to keep up his immense form.
Frijns and Vergne are both still winless this season but find themselves in the championship fight after six races. The pair have six podiums between them with Frijns getting two at Rome. Vergne has previously won at Berlin. While it’s highly likely we’ll see a couple of rosterums for the top four, I reckon we’ll see a new winner this season.
As I mentioned earlier, the top 4 is already 22 points clear of the rest of the pack. The point spread from 5th-10th is just 19 points with five quality drivers making up the rest of the top 10. Three champions: De Vries, Da Costa, and Di Grassi make up eighth to tenth, in that order, with the Porsches in 6th and 7th. Had Wehrlein’s Porsche not broken down from P1 in Monaco, he may have been the fifth man in the hunt for the championship. His teammate Andre Lotterer has been the most consistent driver this season. Edoardo Mortara led the championship for the first three rounds but after six points in three rounds, is in fifth overall. While Wehrlein’s car broke down, Lotterer was put in the wall at Saint-Devote by Mahindra’s Ollie Rowland, ending the race for the German. Mortara also failed to finish after a collision with his teammate Lucas di Grassi which the cameras unfortunately didn’t catch. The Swissman then came out and labelled his teammate “the butcher of Formula E”. Di Grassi went on to finish sixth despite the incident.
Nick Cassidy scored another good amount of points in seventh for Envision. While Nissan’s car has not been good enough to compete for points too often, Sebastien Buemi has been doing a tidy job collecting points wherever he can. The Season Two champion has collected 10 points so far this season, 4 of which at Monaco, while his new teammate, Maxi Gunther has only netted two points. While Jake Dennis isn’t yet at the level he was last season, the Brit finished in 9th at Monaco, and is beginning to work his way into the top 10 pack.
Berlin always has and always will provide us with plenty of action and I’m sure we’ll get our fair share this weekend. That’s it from me, though, so goodbye for now.