24 May 19

Pre-Berlin round-up: Tempelhof 'tough on tyres,' Audi face 'impossible challenge' & DS Techeetah on top  

Testing Tempelhof track set for Gen2 debut in Germany, while home race heroes go head to head in the capital. With just hours until we go green in Berlin, here's what to look out for in the 2019 BMW i Berlin E-Prix presented by CBMM Niobium on May 25.

Competition in the capital 

Between German brands BMW i, Audi and HWA, and German drivers Pascal Wehrlein, Andre Lotterer, Daniel Abt and Maximilian Gunther, the race in Berlin certainly isn't lacking in homegrown heroes. After a sensational performance from Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler last season, where driver Abt led a one-two finish with teammate Lucas di Grassi, picking up the maximum number of points in a 'perfect' race, the German team will be looking for a repeat performance.
  

"That race was incredible - it's impossible to top that," said Abt. 

"Now people think we can do it all over again but that's not the case - it's a big challenge. It's a new car, a new season but I think we have everything we need to do well on this track." 

Alongside Abt, DS Techeetah's Andre Lotterer will be hoping to improve on last year’s ninth-place finish in his first Berlin E-Prix. Currently second in the standings, one point behind teammate Jean-Eric Vergne, Lotterer will be hungry for his first win in Formula E. New to the Berlin track is Mahindra Racing's Pascal Wehrlein and Maximilian Gunther who will both be keen to secure a place on the podium in front of a home crowd. 

the statue of liberty
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DS Techeetah at the top

After breaking the streak of eight different winners in eight races with the first double victory of the season in Monaco, reigning Champion and DS Techeeath driver Jean-Eric Vergne leads the way into Berlin. Back at the top of the standings for the first time since claiming the title in New York City last July, the Frenchman is still far from complacent. "I'm happy to be in this position but I don't feel I'm leading Championship," said Vergne.

"I'm one point ahead which is absolutely nothing. Everything can be reshuffled after Berlin. As a team, we are all in a good place, feeling calm and relaxed." 

Behind him in the standings - albeit, by only one point - is his teammate Andre Lotterer, who joined the outfit at the start of the 2017/18 season. With both DS Techeetah drivers leading the way into Berlin, the pressure is on as the two drivers go head to head in Tempelhof. 

"Having Andre behind me changes nothing - it's not like I'm fighting one guy in the championship, I'm fighting 20!

"May the best man win and we'll see at the end. We're very much still friends - we joke that we're brothers from a different mother, just 10 years apart. 

"We both know that when we're on track, we're going to fight like dogs - like animals but outside the track, we're the best of friends," says the champ with a smile. 

Concrete jungle 

Back in the historic surroundings of Berlin's Tempelhof Airport, the ABB FIA Formula E Championship returns to the venue for the fourth time in the series' history. With 10 turns, the 2.375 km track is situated on the giant apron of the terminal building, which proudly stands as Europe’s largest monument. With it's high-grip concrete track, the Tempelhof Circuit is a difficult beast to master.

"Racing in Berlin is going to be very interesting," said Vergne.

"It's going to be demanding on energy and tough on the tyres. But I like this kind of race. You can be a bit if a strategist, depending on where you start.

"You can overtake more, especially when compared to Monaco or Paris." 

After JEV set the lap record of 01:09.438 seconds during Practice 2 last season, expect times to tumble as the new, faster, longer-lasting Gen2 cars make their debut in the German capital.