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Lucas di Grassi brings home Audi's 12th win and 40th podium as the German manufacturer flexes its muscles against BMW in Berlin. JEV secures second in a 'fun' race for the Frenchman while Buemi clinches his first podium finish of the season but is still far from top form. As the dust settles on the concrete of Tempelhof Airport, we take a look at the highs, lows and blows of the battle for Berlin.
Just over a year ago, the picture of the podium at Tempelhof Airport was a similar scene, save for one key difference: the driver. A year on from Daniel Abt's sensational full-points victory in his home race in Berlin, his teammate Lucas di Grassi brought home yet another win for the Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler squad on home turf.
"An amazing race for Audi. It was a very strategic race with a lot of energy saving and our cars seemed very efficient today, so I’m super happy," says the former champ while coming to terms with Audi's 12th win and 40th podium in its 55 races in Formula E.
"It just shows that you have to work hard and do the best we can - surprises can come and this is a very nice surprise to me.”
With teammate Daniel Abt also securing solid points in after finishing sixth, the team move up to 2nd in Teams’ Championship. For the second successive year Audi have taken the victory in Berlin, laying down a marker to their German rivals BMW i and HWA Racelab – as well as future contenders Porsche and Mercedes – sitting just 25 points behind DS Techeetah in the Teams’ Championship.
One of the undisputed masters of Formula E, Nissan e.dams' Sebastien Buemi - with a total of 12 wins and 22 podiums in the series - finally made it into the top three for the first time this season. But, after starting the race from the very front, it was a slightly subdued celebration for the former champ. "Lucas appeared to be quicker than me, so I didn't want to over-consume," said the Swiss driver.
"I feel like I've done the most I could today, so there was not much left...I just wasn't efficient enough and at the start, I was not quick enough. I was not bad today but Lucas was better and I think JEV was better too."
Now with 61 points to his name, Buemi sits just inside the top ten in the standings, albeit still one place behind his rookie teammate Oliver Rowland.
"I'm satisfied because I think we're not quick enough in the race to aim for better, so at the end, I'm happy to take 21 points today - I think it's good. I really feel like P3 for the team in the Championship is possible.
I think I was always there this season but I have always been unlucky this season! Today, I was able to show strong pace in Quali, but I'm looking forward to Bern - hopefully, things will just be a bit better there. I just want to give my home crowd a good result."
Spot some familiar faces on the podium in Berlin? Well, with three out of the four former ABB FIA Formula E Champions sitting pretty on the top three steps, it's clear experience is key in Formula E. For reigning champion and current season leader Jean-Eric Vergne (DS Techeetah), a "fun" race for the Frenchman sees him extend his Championship lead - albeit by a mere five points - while 2017/18 season champion Lucas di Grassi moves up to second place in the standings.
“It is still very early to say for the title because there are still five or six drivers very near," says the Brazilian in the moments after the race.
"Basically anyone who wins a race comes straight back into the Championship. You can probably go down all the way to eighth and if they win then they’re straight back into the fight. I think there will be five to seven people still fighting for the title when we get to New York.
After a devastating home race for DS Techeetah's Andre Lotterer, where a technical issue forced his early retirement, the German driver drops one place to third - 16 points behind his teammate. But despite leading the Championship for the second time this season, Vergne is far from complacent.
"I am feeling good about the Championship but there is Bern first - a lot can change very quickly in Formula E. We just need to keep our head cool, keep working from one race to the next and not change anything."
Quick to claim he'd go after a second title just moments after securing his first in New York City last season, the Frenchman's chances are looking good but are far from certain.
"I had a lot of confidence in the car today. I was just enjoying myself," says the DS Techeetah driver with a smile. "I love to be in this mood in these conditions - it was a fun race for me and best so far this season."
After starting in eighth, the reigning champ slid through the pack, passing five drivers to secure his 19th podium in the series.
"I love it here in Berlin - firstly, there are so many people here and although the track is difficult in terms of energy management and tyres, it gives a lot of opportunities to overtake, so I love it."
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