Just weeks after Techeetah’s Jean-Eric Vergne cruised to victory in his hometown of Paris, German driver Daniel Abt (Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler) made waves at his home race in Berlin, leading his team and teammate Lucas di Grassi to the second one-two victory in the history of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship.
“I’m out of words – danke berlin!” screamed Abt over the radio as he crossed the line. “Thanks to all the fans – this means so, so much to me – what more could you ask for!” he added.
From the very start, Abt led the race while the pack followed closely, narrowly avoiding contact in the initial laps.
As one of the first to gain a position, Mahindra Racing’s Nick Heidfeld passed Panasonic Jaguar Racing’s Nelson Piquet on lap five, taking 13th. Shortly after, the German driver climbed again, passing Dragon’s Jose Maria Lopez, into 12th.
“We usually don’t get this kind of racing in single-seater motorsport,” said guest commentator David Coulthard, standing in for Formula E regular Dario Franchitti.
Ten laps in, Abt maintained his lead beautifully, desperate to claim his second victory in the series, especially on home turf.
Lap 11, di Grassi moved up to third, passing Techeetah’s Vergne before Renault e.dams Sebastien Beumi followed suit and took fourth, leaving Vergne in fifth.
Di Grassi, continuing his offense, powered past NIO Formula E Team’s Oliver Turvey on the back straight, moving into second behind teammate Abt.
Meanwhile, further down the pack, Techeetah’s Andre Lotterer, who started the race at the back of the grid, had climbed up to 16th by lap 15, with the German driver continuing to attack with aggression.
By lap 20, Abt had put 3.5 seconds between him and his teammate di Grassi in second.
Battling in fifth and fourth, Vergne brushed Buemi aside on Turn 2 to move up into fourth.
Approaching the midway point in the race, Turvey — short on energy — was the first to head into the pits on lap 23, switching cars and heading out into the second half of the race, emerging in third. For Vergne, a slow car change cost him a position, as he rejoined the race in fifth, giving way to Buemi who took fourth.
In the second half of the race, Abt was back at the front, leading the way with the home crowd cheering every time he passed the start/finish line.
For Mahindra Racing’s Felix Rosenqvist (third in the championship), the Swede was stuck in 12th. After such a strong start to the season, the second half of the season has been marked by a loss of momentum for the Indian team.
On lap 33, Turvey lost two places as Buemi and Vergne mounted a joint attack and powered past him on Turn 10. Vergne, still on the offensive, took Buemi on the inside of Turn 1 to move up into third, intent on defending his potential championship title. After overtaking Buemi and eventually finishing the race in third, this will be the seventh time in nine races that a customer team (Techeetah) has placed higher than its works team (Renault e.dams).
On his first appearance in Formula E this season, Venturi Formula E’s Tom Dillmann took two places on lap 38 to move into a point-scoring 10th. But Dillmann, intent on attack, lost his focus and left the door open, being overtaken by both Piquet and both Mahindra drivers.
With Vergne finishing in third and both Audi drivers taking first and second, Techeetah teammate Lotterer, who started from the back, bided his time and benefited from Dragon’s Jose Maria Lopez’s spin going into Turn 3, which enabled him to move back into point-scoring tenth.
“An incredible home race — Berlin was a fantastic event,” added an emotional Abt, moments before his teammate came over to celebrate with him.
“A fantastic day for Audi and a fantastic day for all the Audi fans,” added di Grassi.