Brazilian driver Lucas di Grassi took a dominant win in the first ever DHL Berlin ePrix. This was his second win of the season, the first having come in Beijing on 13 September last year, at the inaugural Formula E race. This time, the victory came at the home race for his team, Audi Sport ABT. Behind di Grassi came Jerome D’Ambrosio in second place, the Belgian thus securing his first podium of the season. Third was the Monaco ePrix winner, Sebastien Buemi; the Swiss driver thus making it four top-three finishes.
Thanks to today’s victory, di Grassi consolidates his lead in the drivers’ classification, extending it to 17 points over Nelson Piquet Jr, who finished fifth. Nelsinho scored the 10 points that come with that position, plus the two that go with taking the Visa Fastest Lap Trophy. In the teams’ classification, Audi Sport ABT has closed the gap to e.dams-Renault down to 35 points (140 to 175.) Dragon Racing now moves up into third place: the 30 points picked up by D’Ambrosio and Loic Duval (fourth) means that in one go, the team moves ahead of Virgin Racing and NEXTEV TCR.
Just as in Monaco, here too, in the iconic setting of Tempelhof airport, a large enthusiastic and inquisitive crowd turned up to see the first race for electric single-seaters to be held in Germany – 21,000 of them attending the event, which ended with a concert from DJ Felix Jaehn, currently topping the German charts.
Qualifying threw up a big surprise, with Jarno Trulli securing an unexpected, but well deserved pole position. Running in the first group, the Italian made himself at home in the seat destined for the fastest driver in the FIA garage and stayed there right to the end, when it was time for the media interviews. At the start, Jarno managed to keep ahead of di Grassi, but the Brazilian pounced when the Italian made a mistake at the second corner and took the lead. From then on, the Audi Sport ABT driver had a pretty solitary race. Trulli, who was already beginning to struggle with energy management, kept everyone behind him for the first five laps, before dropping back, but in the meantime, Lucas had already built up a lead of around 10 seconds, which meant he was able to manage the race from then on.
On lap 10, Buemi was second, with Nick Heidfeld and D’Ambrosio behind him. By lap 17, 18 drivers had pitted to change cars: only the NEXTEV TCR pair stayed out for one further lap. After the run of stops, di Grassi still had a comfortable lead, while D’Ambrosio managed to get past Buemi in the pits, to move up to second.
The Swiss had to focus more on fending off Heidfeld than on attacking D’Ambrosio, at least up until the German Venturi team driver had to slow the pace. The final laps saw the top three manage the situation easily enough, while behind them Piquet was fighting back, with his usual ability to be a protagonist in the closing stages, thanks to his skill in managing the remaining energy in the best way possible. The Brazilian had struggled in qualifying (13th on the grid) but managed to secure a fifth place that means he is still in the hunt for the title.
While he was first past the chequered flag, di Grassi was last to come back to the pits, because his car stopped on track with a technical problem: it meant he had to wait just a little bit longer before being greeted by his team as they celebrated this important win.
The inaugural Formula E season is now on the home straight. After the German capital, it will be the turn of the Russian one, which hosts the Moscow ePrix on 6 June, against the backdrop of the walls of the Kremlin itself.
FIA Formula E Championship – DHL Berlin ePrix (Rd 8) – Race results:
1. Lucas di Grassi, Audi Sport ABT, 48:18.890
2. Jerome D’Ambrosio, Dragon Racing, +7.586s
3. Sébastien Buemi, e.dams-Renault, +10.019s
4. Loïc Duval, Dragon Racing, +11.094s
5. Nelson Piquet Jr, NEXTEV TCR, +11.561s
6. Nick Heidfeld, Venturi, +20.632s
7. Stéphane Sarrazin, Venturi, +20.921s
8. Jean-Eric Vergne, Andretti, ++21.264s
9. Sam Bird, Virgin Racing, +21.641s
10. Vitantonio Liuzzi, Trulli, +23.222s
11. Nicolas Prost, e.dams-Renault, +24.188s
12. Antonio Felix da Costa, Amlin Aguri, +24.833s
13. Jaime Alguersuari, Virgin Racing, +28.180s
14. Scott Speed, Andretti, +28.735s
15. Daniel Abt, Audi Sport ABT, +31.274s
16. Charles Pic, NEXTEV TCR, +33.077s
17. Salvador Duran, Amlin Aguri, +51.743s
18. Bruno Senna, Mahindra Racing, +53.843s
19. Karun Chandhok, Mahindra Racing, +1:00.289s
20. Jarno Trulli, Trulli, +2 laps
Lucas di Grassi – 118
Nelson Piquet Jr – 101
Sébastien Buemi – 98
Nicolas Prost – 77
Jerome D’Ambrosio – 70
Sam Bird – 66
Antonio Felix da Costa – 45
Jean-Eric Vergne – 34
Jaime Alguersuari – 30
Bruno Senna – 28
e.dams-Renault – 175
Audi Sport ABT – 140
Dragon Racing – 106
NEXTEV TCR – 105
Virgin Racing – 96
Andretti – 86
Amlin Aguri – 48
Mahindra Racing – 46
Venturi – 30
Trulli – 16