Berlin has always been something of an anomaly in Formula E. It’s partially the nature of the circuit, with its long wide corners, something which is unusual in a series usually populated by tight twisty turns. It’s also partially the track surface, concrete laid almost one hundred years ago, which is very different to the usual asphalt that adorns city streets. As a result, there were varying fortunes last weekend.
In the second race in Berlin, Mercedes-EQ powertrains filled the top four positions at the end of the E-Prix, with both the factory team and their customer team ROKiT Venturi Racing performing exceptionally. It means Stoffel Vandoorne is the Drivers' championship leader and has now picked up three podiums in a row, to go 12 points clear at the top of the standings.
The man chasing him is Edoardo Mortara (ROKiT Venturi Racing). He picked up the most points of anyone in Berlin, with a win, a second place and two pole positions in a weekend that put his title challenge back on track. He was fifth coming into the weekend, somewhat cut adrift from the top four, after retiring in Monaco and Rome, but has launched back into the championship battle.
Jaguar TCS Racing and Envision Racing are two teams that have traditionally struggled in Berlin, and it was no different last weekend. Jaguar's Mitch Evans missed out on the qualifying duels on Saturday, but raced through to finish fifth which were solid enough points. On the Sunday, though, he could only manage tenth. It’s the third time in three seasons that Evans has fallen away from a title fight in Berlin, but the good news for him this year is that it isn’t the season finale!
Robin Frijns (Envision Racing) was nowhere on Saturday. He qualified 20th after making a mistake in the Groups running, and although he managed to come back through to 12th it wasn’t enough to collect any points. So miserable was Envision’s pace after free practice on Sunday, they decided to change Nick Cassidy’s entire powertrain, and take the back of the grid penalty that came with it. The logic was that they would be qualifying at the back anyway, so this was the best place to take the penalty. All of a sudden, both cars were in the Duels! Frijns even managed to take second on the grid behind Mortara.
It was a shame for Cassidy, as it was his best qualifying performance of the season but he was unable to even take that position at the start. Frijns was pessimistic about keeping up with the Mercedes-EQ powered cars, and was ulimtately satisfied to finish ‘best of the rest’ in fifth, but missing his ATTACH MODE activation was an error from the Dutchman that may have cost him a position or two.
A late title defence?
We are at the half way mark in the season now, and after coming out of the blocks in his championship defence by winning the first race of the year in Diriyah, Nyck de Vries (Mercedes-EQ) disappeared for a few months. He picked up two points in four races, and would often qualify well but drop backwards as he struggled with the car's balance.
Suddenly, in the second race in Berlin, it all came right. It was the type of dominant drive that we had come to expect from last year’s champion. He is admittedly 46 points behind his teammate Vandoorne who is leading the championship, and he himself doesn’t particularly believe that he is back in the fight, but if he can pick up some more big results then it’s not an impossibility for him to defend his title, although it looks pretty unlikely.
On to Jakarta
This will only be the third new track in three years for the teams and drivers to learn in the hot and humid Indonesia. It’s also only a single header, so there’s just one day for them to get up to speed and bag points, so preparation for this race is going to be absolutely vital, and everyone will see Jakarta as the weekend to kick start their second half of the season.
Published on 20th May 2022
5 min read