Who to watch out for in the epic six-race finale in Berlin

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Who to watch out for in the epic six-race finale in Berlin

Heading into the six-race finale in Berlin, DS Techeetah's Antonio Felix da Costa is currently sitting at the top of the driver standings, but with half a season's worth of races to come, the title is still up for grabs.

Who to watch out for in the epic six-race finale in Berlin

When the ABB FIA Formula E Championship gets back underway on August 5, any one of the 24 drivers on the grid can lift the trophy at the final round on August 13.

Here we pick out some of the key protagonists heading into the epic season finale...

Antonio Felix da Costa - DS Techeetah: 1st, 67 points

Antonio Felix da Costa is the benchmark to beat in the triple double-header in Berlin as the Portuguese driver and DS Techeetah has proven to be a hot combination in the 2019/20 season.

Starting from Round 3 at Santiago, da Costa was on an impressive podium run having claimed trophies in the last three rounds, including his first win with the Franco-Chinese outfit last time out in Marrakesh.

If da Costa can pick up where he left off, this momentum and DS Techeetah's winning know-how is a worrying prospect for the rest of the field. As the Portuguese driver demonstrated in the last three rounds, he was only getting faster.

Mitch Evans - Panasonic Jaguar Racing: 2nd, 56 points

The Mexico City E-Prix is a shining example of how competitive the Panasonic Jaguar Racing package is in Mitch Evans' hands. The man from New Zealand stormed to the front and never looked back, taking a huge win in front of the cheering fans in the legendary Foro Sol.

A mistake in qualifying left the Jag frontman languishing at the back of the grid, but in a demonstrating his perseverance Evans fought through the field to end the race in sixth and keep any championship hopes alive. The Kiwi will need to find this grit again for the tough title fight that is to come.

Alexander Sims - BMW i Andretti Motorsport: 3rd, 46 points

Alexander Sims is currently sat unassumingly in third place in the standings. The BMW i Andretti Motorsport driver fired on to the scene in the 2019/20 season with two Julius Baer Pole Positions and his debut Formula E win to be an early contender for the title.

Since then, the British driver has fallen out of the limelight. He put in a mercurial run of performances in the last three rounds, from a non-finish in Santiago, followed by an impressive drive from down the field to fifth in Mexico City and then to another DNF in Marrakesh.

Maximilian Guenther - BMW i Andretti Motorsport: 4th, 44 points

Across the opening rounds this season, Maximilian Guenther has demonstrated that he is one of the top emerging talents in Formula E.

The German driver has immediately gelled with BMW i Andretti Motorsport, taking his debut victory in Santiago and becoming the youngest race winner in Formula E.

At 23, Guenther is one of the younger drivers on the grid, but throughout this season he has demonstrated that he has the raw speed and tactical nous to take on his more experienced rivals. Even out-foxing two-time champion Jean-Eric Vergne last time out in Marrakesh with a pass worthy of the highlight reels.

Lucas di Grassi - Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler: 5th, 38 points

Lucas di Grassi is one of a select group of drivers to have competed in every Formula E race to-date and has a wealth of experience to lean on in his bid to string a title charge together.

Currently fifth in the running, 29 points back from current table-topper da Costa, the Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler driver - and 2016/17 champion - will feel he is firmly in with a shout with his consistency and propensity for a late-season charge. When the pressure’s on, di Grassi comes into his own.

Di Grassi and Audi have a strong record at Tempelhof, too, which should work in their favour. The Brazilian won there last season in spectacular style and he’s made the podium on four of the five occasions Formula E has raced in the German capital.

Jean-Eric Vergne - DS Techeetah: 8th, 31 points

The Frenchman is outside the top ten in the standings, but as demonstrated by his on-track performances, the two-time champion can pull it out of the bag when needed. Case in point was his drive last time out in Marrakesh, coming from the sick bed to the podium after missing the opening practice session.

On the way to his championship defence in 2018/19, last season's race in Berlin saw Vergne step on to the podium in third after starting down in fifth, making his way through the field with some inspired passes, including an impressive move out of the ATTACK MODE zone to immediately retake two positions.

With racing resuming in Berlin, JEV started this season as the hunted man, but now the reigning champion is on the hunt.

Sam Bird - Envision Virgin Racing: 10th, 29 points

Sam Bird flew out of the blocks to take the race win in the season-opening SAUDIA Diriyah E-Prix but since then, points have been hard to come by for the Brit. 

Rounds 2-5 saw two DNFs with a fastest lap in Mexico City indicating that pace may not be Sam’s problem.

Bird finds himself down in 10th in the standings, with his aim being consistency, after an unprecedented and enforced break filled with mountains of preparation by the team.

He might be seen as something of a dark horse, but double champion Jean-Eric Vergne backs Bird as ‘one of the best’ on the grid, and the Greater Londoner will want to end his relationship with Virgin on a high before his move for 2021 to Jaguar Panasonic Racing. 

Sebastien Buemi - Nissan e.dams: 11th, 27 points

The opening throes of the 2019/20 Formula E season didn't quite go to plan for the Swiss driver, it's probably fair to say.

To-date, he's just a single podium to his name - earned in Mexico City - and he finds himself down in 11th spot in the Drivers' standings, almost 40 points back from Antonio Felix da Costa whose DS Techeetah currently tops the tally.

Buemi is no stranger to comebacks though. He was 13th in the championship heading into the final five rounds last season. A storming run of four consecutive podiums, with victory in New York for good measure, saw him mount a real challenge, just falling short to finish runner-up to champion Jean-Eric Vergne at the last race.

Stoffel Vandoorne - Mercedes-Benz EQ: 6th, 38 points

Coming off the back of his success in the ABB Formula E Race at Home Challenge, Stoffel Vandoorne will be aiming to continue that glory when racing returns to the real world.

Vandoorne has been the leading man in bringing the Silver Arrow success in its debut in all-electric street racing. Taking two podiums on the bounce in the opening double-header at Diriyah. He's since fallen short of that pace with two DNFs, but much like in sim racing he can now hit restart on his season.

The Mercedes-Benz EQ man has numerous FANBOOST wins to his name but is still missing that elusive E-Prix victory. The Belgian is cool and consistent, and with six-races squeezed into such a short timeframe, this kind of consistency will be key to success.

Andre Lotterer - TAG Heuer Porsche: 12th, 25 points

Andre Lotterer is already running ahead of the goals set by TAG Heuer Porsche in their debut season in Formula E. He took the team's first podium in the very first round in Diriyah and followed this up with the Julius Baer Pole Position in Mexico City.

Lotterer may be down the order in the standings, but as past drives show the German is a fierce competitor who isn't afraid to rough up his rivals. Then factor in his experience of racing in challenging conditions from winning the gruelling 24 Hours of Le Mans an impressive three-times.

The 2019/20 season might be a learning year for Lotterer and Porsche, but the ultimate prize is still within their grasp, especially with the unpredictable nature of all-electric street racing.

Daniel Abt - NIO 333: 17th, 8 points

After parting ways with Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler during the season break, Daniel Abt was thrown a lifeline by NIO 333 as the German was brought in as a substitute for the team's regular driver Ma Qinghua.

Without a drive for 2020/21 season, Berlin is the perfect location for Abt to showcase his abilities and highlight his long-standing experience in the ABB FIA Championship. The Tempelhof Airport, in particular, brings to mind fond memories for the German, as it is the location of not only a home win in 2018 but also the only 'Grand Slam' in Formula E history.

Abt is going up against a tough lineup, but his past successes in Berlin will stand him in good stead.

Rene Rast - Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler: Not classified

Two-time DTM champion Rene Rast takes the vacant seat at Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler, returning to all-electric street racing after a brief introduction at the Berlin E-Prix back in 2016.

Rast not only faces the unique challenge of tackling Formula E's one-day race day, but he joins when the series is about to face one of the most intense schedules in the history of motorsport.

But Rast was selected for a reason. Not only does he have a long-standing and successful partnership with the four rings of Audi Sport, but the German driver is also quick to adapt and has been dominantly consistent in DTM. Winning the title in the German touring car championship in his first full season and claiming 18 wins in only three seasons.