Winners and losers from FE’s incident-filled Berlin double-header


A revised layout and a host of new-ish faces – competing due to a combination of injury and World Endurance Championship clashes – gave Formula E’s Berlin E-Prix double-header something of a new look.

But once things got down to business on both Saturday and Sunday, it was an ever-familiar sight – although perhaps ratcheted up to 11 – as the pack racing, dubbed by new championship leader Nick Cassidy as Daytona 500-esque – took no prisoners, leaving drivers on edge, tyres punctured and front wing endplates scattered all over the track.

It was exactly the kind of weekend on which a season can turn – but did it?

Here are our winners and losers from the frantic Tempelhof double.

Winners

Nick Cassidy

The Kiwi’s agility and pure depth of understanding of how to get the best result in high-energy management E-Prix races is well-known – but his harnessing of consistent points is now looking metronomic.

Take his Sao Paulo and first Misano E-Prix misadventures out and he’s averaged 17.5 points per race. That’s guaranteed title form.

But even the ‘Prince of the Peloton’ (copyright to Formula E pundit Saunders CB) has to work at this particularly jeopardy-filled craft, which doesn’t always come off so sweetly.

“I had a bit of a lead in the championship after a few races, went to Sao Paulo, was a bit cautious and you just end up in the wrong places,” Cassidy told The Race, recalling his messy Brazilian race.

“So, I’ve just got a treat every race like it’s the first and keep my mind in the same window, which I think is the way that’s going to get me the best performance and results.”

The Jaguar driver struggled with aspects of his car balance at Tempelhof but overcame those neatly to arm himself with such a capable weapon on both days to attack when he wanted.

What Cassidy did in Berlin was to use every ounce of his astuteness and racing sixth sense to guide his way to a win, second place, and fastest lap as well as a notable (23-point) swing from Monaco to Berlin over Pascal Wehrlein in the title quest.

Antonio Felix da Costa

Antonio Felix da Costa, Porsche, Formula E, Berlin E-Prix

That it was Antonio Felix da Costa and not team-mate Wehrlein who brought Porsche its first-ever home victory at Tempelhof was an outcome laced with irony.

Here was a driver who has, with great dignity, ridden a rollercoaster of emotions over the past nine months that included a 50% reduction in his active racing programmes, endless questioning, internally and externally, of his suitability as a Porsche driver and whether he could ever win another E-Prix.

In reality he’s won two. He was the moral Misano winner and while that saga’s now put to bed, mentally it still stings.

“Absolutely it [the 25 points] would make a big difference [to title possibilities],” da Costa told The Race.

“And they’re more than 25 points because I gain 25 but you take points away from others so it’s actually, let’s say, 27-28-30 points even.

“It is what it is, again. When I’m at the sim, I do my job, when I’m at the races I focus only on winning, when I’m home I just try not to get angry about bad situations.”

Antonio Felix da Costa, Porsche, Berlin E-Prix, Formula E

Yet still his superiors at Porsche scan the data eagle-eyed and bring up the still-awkward question of his qualifying performances (one duels appearance in 10 attempts).

More irony. In approximately half of Formula E races this season, qualifying may as well not take place at all. You can win the things from halfway down the grid, and so da Costa has proved.

Where does it all leave his future in Formula E? Probably not at Porsche next season, although never say never.

He is highly likely to be back in the WEC, and the offers elsewhere in Formula E will come to his manager Tiago Monteiro readily because, as da Costa identified in Berlin, he can fight back brilliantly from a multitude of challenges from both inside himself and those around him.

Oliver Rowland

Oliver Rowland, Nissan, Formula E, Berlin E-Prix

Rowland has been one of the true masters of making up places in the pack at just the right time this season. It isn’t exclusive to high-energy management peloton races either, as was evidenced at Monaco two weeks ago.

At Berlin he was at it again and it was enormously impressive, as is his trend of not only staying in the championship hunt but seemingly positioning himself.

But sometimes there’s an element of a holistic approach to strategy and just getting things done, too.

“When I was sat on the grid I didn’t know what I wanted to do,” Rowland said of his Sunday run to third place, his sixth visit to the podium this season.

“I decided just before the three minutes: ‘Right, I’m going to save for five laps and then I’m just going to get stuck in and see where it goes’. It worked.”

It certainly did. As did the aggression in battle which left his car, like so many others, battle-scarred.

Did he care? Not really.

Oliver Rowland, Nissan, Formula E, Berlin E-Prix

“They [Nissan] told me, ‘Take a bit of margin, your front wing is loose’. I did and then lost three places from just not being aggressive enough.”

That Rowland has achieved what he has this season, with half a season of Gen3 racing experience less than those around him at the loftier end of the points table, is remarkable.

With similar peloton races expected at Shanghai and Portland to come in the next six weeks, an assumption on The Race Formula E Podcast recently that Rowland wasn’t really to be considered for a crack at the title is looking a touch premature.

Taylor Barnard

Taylor Barnard, McLaren, Berlin E-Prix, Formula E

Formula E’s youngest-ever starter became its youngest-ever points scorer with a 10th place at Berlin, then added an eighth place a day later for good measure.

The fact he has amassed the points so calmly and with such sharpness has gone way beyond anything ever expected of Barnard in each of the three races he has completed so far.

He knows he may not get another chance this season, as the injured Sam Bird hurries to get himself back into fighting shape, so there was an element of freedom to Barnard’s weekend in Berlin. Still, to claim McLaren’s most points single-handedly since Misano last month was stirring.

“I’m quite happy, honestly, with that result; starting from P18 to get these points in the kind of race that it was – quite fast, pushy race. I think actually the opposite to what it was yesterday,” Barnard told The Race on Sunday.

“I’m very happy with both races, a lot of experience learnt for not only this series and this specific track racing, but for my whole career.”

Edoardo Mortara

Edoardo Mortara, Mahindra, Berlin E-Prix, Formula E

Mortara and Mahindra have worked colossally hard to get into points-scoring positions this season only to be denied by a smorgasbord of issues ranging from accidents to technical maladies and, in the starkest and cruellest case, disqualification from sixth place in Tokyo.

It was going to come right one day and on Saturday in Berlin that day arrived, and in style.

An exquisite series of qualifying laps netted a well-deserved pole position and, on Eurovision day, finally laid to rest the nil points season for Mortara and Mahindra.

There is little likelihood in any racing situation that Mortara can challenge for a win or a podium with the present package he has. Scoring points is his current peak and he achieved that with an eighth-place finish, albeit one where his car was damaged and suffering by the chequered flag.

Despite the paucity of points this season, Mahindra has been a much happier place, so the positivity that is accruing puts it in a sound position to add more points in Shanghai, Portland and particularly the flat-out and qualifying-vital London finale.

Joel Eriksson

Joel Eriksson, Envision Jaguar, Berlin E-Prix, Formula E

To their credit, none of the WEC clash stand-ins looked out of place pace-wise during this round in Berlin – there were parts of the weekend where each of Envision’s borrowed Formula 2 driver Paul Aron, Abt ringer Kelvin van der Linde and sometime IndyCar starter Jordan King in the Mahindra all popped up in very credible sections of the timing screens.

But it was Joel Eriksson – who did have more prior FE starts than all of them combined thanks to his brief Gen2 stint with Dragon – who brought home the points, and that rightly underlined the fact he did seem most competitive by the end of the weekend.

Thwarted by a van der Linde collision that eventually broke the car on Saturday, Eriksson – Jaguar’s reserve, test and simulator driver – was a real threat for the duels the following day, and delivered on that promise in the race.

He was actually a little disappointed with ninth place despite describing Sunday as “definitely, 100%” his best day in Formula E yet.

Joel Eriksson, Envision Jaguar, Berlin E-Prix, Formula E

“The issue was basically – the second attack mode, it didn’t activate. I took the loops and everything but we had the same issue in FP3, that the first magnet didn’t react. Had the same issue in the race, I was really safe taking it, passed the loops and didn’t activate it basically.

“And that just sent us to a bad position in the race. Because then when I had to take it again, all the cars were bunched up and I lost a lot of places, and then I dropped back to all the jungle, with all the carnage and all the crazy things going on. And then I was stuck there. I couldn’t do anything.”

Ultimately, though, even this ninth place was enough to snap a four-race scoreless streak for Jaguar’s customer team Envision – and when The Race put it to Eriksson that he won’t have done his future FE prospects any harm this weekend, he concurred.

“Especially today [Sunday],” he said. “I think – also for my, let’s say, belief in myself. Really showed myself that I can do it, if I just have the right car, I know I can perform. That’s good for me as well. Just hope that everybody else sees it as well, and somebody sees the potential.”

Losers

Pascal Wehrlein

Pascal Wehrlein, Porsche, Berlin E-Prix, Formula E

It could’ve been much worse for Wehrlein, whose 22-point haul could easily have been zero had the considerable front wing damage on Saturday and the big collisions with the sister Andretti cars on Sunday proved race-destroying – as all of them so easily could’ve.

But ultimately Cassidy has now stolen a 16-point march on him, on a weekend where Wehrlein seemed to have decent speed but just wasn’t finding himself in the right positions.

The German deserved credit for continuing his qualifying excellence – he has now made the duels nine times from 10 attempts this season, in a spectacular turnaround in the very same area that effectively undid his title bid last year.

But this season qualifying just isn’t that big a deal. Wehrlein, to his obvious annoyance, is well-aware.

“It’s this kind of racing, that actually qualifying doesn’t really matter. Which I think is not correct,” he told The Race.

“I think none of us are enjoying that. If we look at the race yesterday, yeah, fair play to Cassidy on the win, but you know, spending half the race being almost last or saving energy and then coming to the front, at one point it’s just going too far.

“Honestly, there’s no reason to do qualifying apart from trying to score the three points [for pole]. Otherwise, actually sometimes – like yesterday, for example – it’s better if you just start last. That for me is not how racing should be.”

Stoffel Vandoorne

Stoffel Vandoorne, DS Penske, Berlin E-Prix, Formula E

Berlin wasn’t a total wash for Vandoorne – two duels appearances, some points, some pace – but it clearly wasn’t what you’d call good.

On Saturday, the Belgian looked in a good position to strategise something special with DS team-mate Jean-Eric Vergne – eventually on the podium – out front, only to be shuffled down the order and be considerably delayed by the bottleneck Lucas di Grassi/Dan Ticktum collision.

Sunday was more of an obvious disaster, as he plowed into Sacha Fenestraz’s Nissan after inadvertently creating a three-into-one situation into the hairpin, crunching his front wing in the process. If that damage hadn’t been race-ruining, the 10-second penalty would’ve been anyway.

None of that overwrites the Monaco podium, and Vandoorne does seem in a tangibly better place with the car now than in that brutal first season, but Berlin offered a lot more for the Formula E champion still looking for his true Gen3 breakthrough.

Norman Nato

Norman Nato, Andretti Porsche, Berlin E-Prix, Formula E

Nato is obviously under pressure at Andretti, and coming into the weekend his team boss Roger Griffiths emphasised two things: that the team was delighted with everything Nato was providing outside of the pure results, and that it could only take him so far in terms of 2024-25 decisions if the results weren’t coming.

And Berlin followed that exact trend to a tee.

In qualifying, Nato was effectively unimpeachable across the two days. On Saturday, he was within a tenth of Dennis – it just didn’t matter as the Andrettis were uncompetitive over one-lap.

But Nato played a part in working out that particular issue with some in-race-testing once his Saturday E-Prix had gone awry – and come Sunday, both Andretti cars were in the duels, with Dennis only denying Nato a spot in the final by the slimmest of margins.

Except, well, all that is well and good but Nato didn’t score. “For some reason, this year it’s really difficult to race,” he lamented, speaking to The Race.

“Honestly, you need luck. Now, to finish the race, and to do really good results, honestly, you need some luck.”

And, yeah, luck wasn’t on his side – he got a puncture, seemingly from van der Linde, on Saturday, and was punted down the order on Sunday. But he also didn’t make his own luck – a good result was still very much on the cards when he tried an opportunistic move on former Nissan team-mate Sacha Fenestraz and put both of them in the barriers.

Andretti keeps talking of a deadline for Nato to deliver. In Berlin, it will have seen a proof of concept – but no points, and it’s the points that do the talking.

Abt Cupra

Lucas di Grassi, Abt Cupra, Berlin E-Prix, Formula E

The heroics of Abt Cupra’s sensational 2023 qualifying front-row wet-weather lockout in Berlin felt a long-time ago after a seventh non-score weekend this season.

Its resurgence at Misano and in Tokyo has dissipated points-wise and on home turf last weekend all it had to show for its efforts was some qualifying flash.

Stand-in van der Linde had accrued a large amount of simulator time prior to re-engaging with Formula E after a year away. It showed as he hit the ground running with some strong showings in the free practice and qualifying sessions.

His races though were compromised with issues, notably damage to his wing on Saturday, although he did survive for a hard-fought 11th.

A largely anonymous run to 15th followed a day later, but in the context of coming into one of Formula E’s more challenging technical packages he did a fine job.

Team-mate Lucas di Grassi was left to rue several shunts with competitors on Saturday – and was left retired, and particularly unhappy with the application of penalties for some of his competitors.

A day later he fought strongly throughout and was on the edge of the points for much of the second half in what was actually one of his strongest races of the season to date. Frustratingly though, di Grassi ended up with nothing to show for it and remains on just the single point he acquired at Misano.

Abt Cupra should really have brought home some points to make more inroads into the four-point gap to ERT for ninth in the teams’ standings.

Maximilian Guenther

Maximilian Guenther, Maserati MSG, Berlin E-Prix, Formula E

Two very painful races, literally and metaphorically, for Guenther and Maserati MSG in Berlin.

Both races started positively for the Tokyo winner as he was top five in all the free practice sessions and started both races from fifth, too.

The races themselves though very much did not go to plan with both of his drives ending in the wall, the first after his damage-ridden front-wing failed beneath him and then on Sunday via hitting the back of Nato’s Andretti.

The latter in particular was a shame as he was on the move after banking decent energy from 14th position.

“We had an energy advantage compared to the others and we thought, ‘OK, now it’s the right moment to go, to move forwards’ and it’s what we did,” Guenther told The Race.

“I gained quite a few places; I don’t know exactly which position I was in but we were back in the points. Then I went into Turn 1, saw a late move from a DS car [Vandoorne] on my inside and basically in the moment when I watched the mirror I was on the gearbox of the Andretti in front so it was a bit concertina effect.”

Guenther avoided another hand injury but initially thought he was going to be added to the casualty list, saying that “it was very painful and I couldn’t move my hand because I was hitting myself [arm] on the monocoque, but I’m happy enough that nothing serious happened”.

Consequently, and in context of what should have been achievable, Guenther lost out on a potential hatful of points at his home track.





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