Nissan e.dams’ Oliver Rowland secured his first career ABB Formula E Championship race win in the Berlin E-Prix Round 10 to fire himself into second in the drivers’ standings, with Nissan extending its cushion in second place in the teams’ championship.
Yorkshireman Rowland led from lights-to-flag, heading home Envision Virgin Racing’s Robin Frijns and Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler’s Rene Rast, who pinched a first Formula E podium with an aggressive last-lap move on Andre Lotterer (TAG Heuer Porsche).
Pole winner Rowland started well, and Frijns followed suit. Lotterer was the sharpest off-the-line, however, climbing two spots to fifth on the opening lap.
Oliver Turvey (NIO 333), Nyck de Vries (Mercedes-Benz EQ) and Sam Bird (Envision Virgin Racing) were all caught up among 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 that earlier qualifying foul-up, Antonio Felix da Costa (DS Techeetah) managed the biggest gain — making his way up to 16th in the opening throes.
Lucas di Grassi (Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler) found himself in contact with BMW’s Max Guenther in mid-pack as the field concertinaed, causing a right-rear puncture which put the German out of the race on Lap 2 — stunting his standings push.
The lead trio of Rowland, Frijns and Neel Jani (TAG Heuer Porsche) strung out a gap to the group behind, with Lotterer progressing further with a dive up the inside of Alex Lynn (Mahindra Racing) into the final turn on lap five.
Jean-Eric Vergne (DS Techeetah), sitting 17th with 20 minutes gone, was finding progress tough and his hopes of points were quashed thanks to a time penalty with an infringement for battery overcooling, which was picked up by the FIA on the telemetry.
On Lap 7, da Costa and di Grassi were in a scrap for 15th as both looked to progress towards the points. The Audi man put the squeeze on the DS Techeetah driver into Turn 1 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. Another twist and another none-scorer in the battle for second in the standings.
On Lap 14, Stoffel Vandoorne’s quiet move through the pack continued with a pass on Felipe Massa (ROKiT Venturi Racing) for 11th, with the Brazilian losing a position a lap having run inside the top eight early on — finding himself struggling down in 15th on Lap 17.
Lotterer looked to be making the most of the strife suffered by the rest of the drivers vying for second and had caught team-mate 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 while Lotterer had yet to jump into the activation zone – moving third as a result.
Next through the zone was leader Rowland, along with Frijns and Lotterer, the latter having retained that third position by utilising a squirt of 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 1 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 Attack Mode boost to outdrive da Costa over the start-finish line for 11th. 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 line-astern in third and fourth 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 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 checkered flag fourth, with Alex Lynn (Mahindra Racing) highlighting his increasing energy management skills to steal fifth from Jani on the final tour. Mitch Evans (Panasonic Jaguar Racing), Edo Mortara (ROKiT Venturi Racing), Vandoorne and Buemi rounded out the points-paying positions.
Having sealed both titles last weekend, drivers’ champion da Costa and teammate Vergne both failed to finish. Rowland is now second in the drivers standings, three points ahead of Vergne, with Evans and Lotterer profiting from others’ misfortune to move up to fourth and fifth. Nissan e.dams’ extended its advantage in the teams’ running over BMW i Andretti Motorsport, while Envision Virgin Racing leapfrogged Mercedes-Benz EQ for fourth.