The first of three double-header Formula E weekends culminated on Sunday at the Tempelhof Airport in Berlin with a savvy win after a timed penalty for Felix Rosenqvist saw the Swede cross the line first but ultimately finish second.
35 degrees and two extra laps on top of yesterday’s race put thermal control at a premium for teams as a slow start from Buemi allowed Rosenqvist to steal an early march and in so doing, both DS Virgins to close on the Swiss driver. Buemi appeared to be conserving energy early, but Rosenqvist was in no mood to wait, having pulled a lead of two second within one lap.
Di Grassi meanwhile was still mired in 8th position and making little progress on his title rival, but the big mover was Nick Heidfeld; having started last due to a throttle sensor issue in qualifying, the Mahindra driver had already made up eight spots and looking to prove a point.
Up front, Rosenqvist was lapping in the 1 min 8 second bracket compared to team mate Heidfeld’s 1 min 12’s. Whether Felix was hoping to build a gap or traffic was a telling issue for Nick remained to be seen. That said, engineers were already on the radio by lap seven, telling their respective drivers to lift and coast.
Like Saturday’s race, the winners of the #FanBoost were once again Sebastien Buemi and the ABT Schaeffler duo of Daniel Abt and Lucas Di Grassi, suggesting Cher’s concert wardrobe changes had more variety than the Formula E voting procedure.
Lap thirteen and fastest lap went to Maro Engel’s Venturi who might have hoped to follow in Mitch Evans footsteps on Saturday in taking the category’s biggest consolation prize – the VISA Fastest Lap. Meanwhile, marbles were beginning to form within the confines of the circuit walls, inviting an unwary driver into an unsavory meeting with the concrete barriers.
Sam Bird came off second best after misreading a move from team mate Lopez, which forced the Brit wide and losing two spots in the process. As Bird fell down the order to 8th the sarcasm in his helmet more palpable than an episode of Tosh.O.
The game up front meanwhile was beginning to turn in Buemi’s favour, who had closed the gap to Rosenqvist to around 1.3 seconds with three laps remaining before the pit window opened. The Swede was fully aware of the situation, checking his mirrors to be sure he had enough insurance for a clean and calm stop.
A lap later and the leaders pitted, however a slip-up in the Mahindra garage saw Rosenqvist released right into the path of Heidfeld. Knowing that an unsafe release could be on the cars, Felix hi-tailed it up the road to build a steady gap over Buemi. If consistency was to be upheld, then the 5-second penalty handed to Jean-Eric Vergne for committing the same crime yesterday should also have been offered out to Rosenqvist.
This put Buemi into the box seat with title rival Lucas Di Grassi back in 4th, who was nipping at the heels of third-placed Jean-Eric Vergne. A sucker-punch from the Brazilian into turn one forced Vergne offline under brakes and allowed a clean passage for Di Grassi. Aby activated #FanBoost in the hope of making a similar move but the Frenchman was a wake-up and maintained his position.
Meanwhile, Rosenqvist’s penalty finally came through, albeit 10 seconds to the 11 second advantage he currently held over Buemi. It would now potentially be a race won on aggregate. Buemi though would close within 2 seconds of Rosenqvist, but the gap to Di Grassi was enough to secure second and a remarkable weekend for the super Swede and the strengthening Mahindra outfit.
“It was an awkward penalty”, said Rosenqvist. “But these things happen, it was a fantastic performance from our team.
The big story however, was the seesawing battle between title rivals Buemi and Di Grassi, ebbing and flowing as it has done since the inception of the series.
Images: Fia Formula E, Amlin Andrett and Audi ABT Schaeffler
300-101 400-101 300-320 300-070 300-206 200-310 300-135 300-208 810-403 400-050 640-916 642-997 300-209 400-201 200-355 352-001 642-999 350-080 MB2-712 400-051 C2150-606 1Z0-434 1Z0-146 C2090-919 C9560-655 642-64 100-101 CQE CSSLP 200-125 210-060 210-065 210-260 220-801 220-802 220-901 220-902 2V0-620 2V0-621 2V0-621D 300-075 300-115 AWS-SYSOPS 640-692 640-911 1Z0-144 1z0-434 1Z0-803 1Z0-804 000-089 000-105 70-246 70-270 70-346 70-347 70-410