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Formula E – Abt and Audi unbeatable in Berlin


Lucas di Grassi completes perfect Berlin E-Prix for Audi while Jean-Eric Vergne extends lead with podium

For the second race in succession, the 2017/18 ABB FIA Formula E Championship provided a hometown hero, as Daniel Abt scored a hugely popular victory in front of the packed grandstands at the Berlin E-Prix today, 19 May.

Abt was closely followed by his Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler team-mate Lucas di Grassi, who extends his run of consecutive podiums to four, and rounds out a perfect day for the German team at its home race. Di Grassi quickly picked off his rivals from fifth on the grid but despite getting close following the pit stop phase couldn’t chase down the #66 car ahead.

While Audi looked unbeatable out in front, it was a fierce battle for third place at Tempelhof Airport between Oliver Turvey for NIO, Sebastien Buemi for Renault e.dams and Jean-Eric Vergne for TECHEETAH. Off the line, Turvey held his second-placed grid position and after losing out to Di Grassi on lap 13 was soon under pressure again.

Using more energy than his rivals, Turvey pitted a lap earlier for the mandatory car swap, and as a result in the latter stages began to fall back into the clutches of the drivers behind.  

Buemi and Vergne, who had been battling amongst themselves for most of the race, made it past Turvey with ten laps to go and continued their battle for the final podium place. Vergne made his move into turn one and, despite slight contact, managed to take the position.

Despite pressure from Buemi for the remainder of the contest, there was nothing the Swiss driver could do to get by the championship leader, and Vergne now has a 40-point advantage at the top of the table.

Buemi will be hoping that the home advantage extends for another round of the championship as Formula E brings circuit racing back to Switzerland for the first time in 55 years on 10 June.

With Turvey holding onto fifth place, Mitch Evans rounded out the top six with another strong drive for Panasonic Jaguar Racing making up three places from ninth on the grid. Sam Bird, who still sits second in the standings, followed Evans home in seventh, but with Vergne now capable of clinching the title in the next race, the pressure is definitely on the British driver to score big in Zurich.

There was more to cheer about for the German fans as the chequered flag fell, as the final three positions in the top ten were occupied by Engel, Lotterer and Heidfeld, meaning all four German drivers scored points today. It was an especially impressive drive from Lotterer – the TECHEETAH driver came through from last on the grid to score two points.

It was a busy day of action off the track as well as on it, as 2016 FIA Formula One World Champion Nico Rosberg gave the first on-track public demonstration of the FIA Formula E Gen2 Car ahead of its racing debut in season five, and another glimpse of the future in the form of the Jaguar IPACE eTROPHY car which will race in support of Formula E next season.

As part of the FIA’s Volunteers Weekend which is currently taking place, a number of special activities took place at the Tempelhof track, including a family photo with FIA President Jean Todt, some high-speed VIP laps, and the chance to take the Formula E drivers for a ride around the track during the drivers parade.

Click here to view a gallery of FIA Volunteers Weekend activities from around the world, and join the conversation on social media using #FIAVolunteersWeekend

Daniel Abt, Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler, said: “It’s super special. I keep saying I have these weeks where I just feel like good stuff is going to happen and I had this feeling here in my home round. There is so much positive energy from everyone around, from the fans to the staff. I felt confident today all of a sudden, in qualifying there was not much more in it and was spot on and from then on, I knew we could win it. To get a one-two with Lucas was so special for Audi, for everyone and the team.”

Lucas di Grassi, Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler, said: “First, congratulations to Daniel - I think he deserved the win today, he drove fantastically with no mistakes. Second, I think the Audi car today had a good advantage over the others. We were super-fast, and we could only challenge each other. In the first stint, I managed to pass Jerome, Turvey and JEV and then opened up the gap to them before the pit stop. After that we were very close and my second car had some problem that I have to analyse, but I was just happy to bring it home. The one-two is a dream come true for Audi after we started the year so badly and now we’ve recovered and are second in the team championship, and it was my fourth straight podium in a row - I can only be happy!”

Jean-Eric Vergne, TECHEETAH, said: “Well done to the Audi guys and Daniel, I know how it feels at home - it’s pretty amazing so I’m happy for him. I think I’m going to change my nationality at every race because it seems at every home race a driver wins, so in Zurich I’m going to be Swiss and in New York, American! The race went very well, I took it easy, I knew from this morning the Audi guys were out of reach. When Lucas was behind I didn’t even look, I let him by. Then I passed Buemi and he was quite aggressive in closing the door sometimes. The pit stop wasn’t bad, I lost a position to Buemi so I had to pass him again. Overall I’m extremely happy, last year this was our worst track performance-wise and I’m very happy with the job the team has done.”

2018 Berlin E-Prix (Rd 9)

1 - Daniel Abt, Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler, 55:35.546s (29)
2 - Lucas di Grassi, Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler, +6.758s (18)
3 - Jean-Eric Vergne, TECHEETAH, +12.894s (15)
4 - Sebastien Buemi, Renault e.dams, +17.282s (12)
5 - Oliver Turvey, NIO Formula E Team, +19.620s (10)
6 - Mitch Evans, Panasonic Jaguar Racing, +24.586s (8)
7 - Sam Bird, DS Virgin Racing, +34.610s (6)
8 - Maro Engel, Venturi Formula E Team, +37.814s (4)
9 - Andre Lotterer, TECHEETAH, +44.359s (2)
10 - Nick Heidfeld, Mahindra Racing, +45.931s (1)
11 - Felix Rosenqvist, Mahindra Racing, +46.381s
12 - Nelson Piquet Jr, Panasonic Jaguar Racing, +49.087s
13 - Tom Dillmann, Venturi Formula E Team, +50.150s
14 - Nico Prost, Renault e.dams, +50.381s
15 - Antonio Felix da Costa, Andretti Formula E, +52.715s
16 - Alex Lynn, DS Virgin Racing, +53.000s
17 - Luca Filippi, NIO Formula E Team, +53.302s
18 - Jose Maria Lopez, DRAGON, +53.611s
19 - Jerome D’Ambrosio, DRAGON, +54.289s
20 - Stephane Sarrazin, Andretti Formula E, +1:06:954s

Driver standings
Jean-Eric Vergne, TECHEETAH - 162
Sam Bird, DS Virgin Racing - 122
Felix Rosenqvist, Mahindra Racing - 86
Daniel Abt, Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler - 85
Sebastien Buemi, Renault e.dams - 82

Team standings
Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler - 161
DS Virgin Racing - 139
Mahindra Racing - 108
Panasonic Jaguar Racing - 96
Renault e.dams - 89
Venturi Formula E Team - 56
NIO Formula E Team - 45
Andretti Formula E - 20