HANKOOK DEBRIEF: Seven things we learned in Berlin

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HANKOOK DEBRIEF: Seven things we learned in Berlin

Championship Journalist Katy Fairman picks her biggest talking points from a weekend of racing around the German capital.


Our time at Tempelhof has come to an end for another season, with Jaguar TCS Racing’s Nick Cassidy and TAG Heuer Porsche’s Antonio Felix da Costa the best of Berlin with victories across Rounds 9 and 10. 

It was a weekend full of action, amazing overtaking and a lot of damaged front wings as the grid tackled the familiar German circuit that was given a new look for this season. 

Porsche win on home soil 

There’s always pressure on you for your home event. Big sponsors and shareholders are often present, alongside families, friends, and of course the grandstands cheering you on.

Since Porsche entered the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship in 2019, they have yet to win at home in Germany – until this weekend. Antonio Felix da Costa managed to climb from 10th on the grid to the top step of the podium, for his first official win of Season 10. Not only does this make him the eight different winner over the first 10 rounds, it also marks a huge milestone for the German giants of manufacturing. 


Da Costa has tasted the sweet Taittinger Champagne before now, crossing the finish line in first place last month in Misano. However, he was later disqualified from Round 6 as the throttle damper spring on his car was not found in conformity with one of three optional declared items. Although Porsche protested the result, this still remains his first classified win of Season 10. 

INTERVIEW: Da Costa on his 'amazing' Berlin blockbuster victory

This marks Da Costa’s third win around Tempelhof, becoming the first driver in Formula E’s history to do so. The Portuguese driver previously won here back-to-back in Season 6, on his way to his first Formula E championship title. He also led 22 laps of the SUN MINIMEAL Berlin E-Prix to reach 119 career laps led at Tempelhof, another Formula E record for a single venue. 

Double DNF for Guenther

From the highs of winning at home, to the lows. It was a tough weekend for Maserati MSG Racing’s Maximilian Guenther. The German driver failed to finish either of the Berlin rounds, a big knock to his season which until this weekend had seen him score points at all but one race. 

On Saturday for Round 9, Guenther started in fifth after making the Duels. After moving down the grid at the start for a more conservative approach to the race, he also managed to miss one of the ATTACK MODE loops which failed to activate it. Later in the race, he was forced to retire with damage when his front wing broke, and subsequently slid under his car which impacted his steering and saw him hit the barriers. 

gunther incident replay s10 r10

For Sunday, he qualified in the same position but was also unable to make the chequered flag. A loss of power on the first lap cost him places, and under consuming meant he was able to send it later on – gaining six positions in one lap alone! He was able to get back into the top 10 but had an almost identical incident to his contact with the barriers the day before. 

“I’m not happy with the outcome, but that’s racing and it’s part of a season – there are always moments like this,” he said after the weekend. 

RESULTS: The full SUN Minimeal Berlin E-Prix Round 10 classification

Things were better on the other side of the Maserati garage, as his teammate Jehan Daruvala was able to lock in his best Formula E result to date. The Indian rookie finished Round 10 in seventh, picking up an important six championship points!  

What a difference a day makes 

Although this might not have been the case for Maximilian Guenther, Andretti had one of the biggest turnarounds in performance from day-to-day in Berlin. 

The American team, home to reigning World Champion Jake Dennis, have struggled with their qualifying performances this year. Although the style of racing has allowed Dennis four podium positions this season, it has been a big issue for the squad. For Saturday’s race, Dennis and Norman Nato were last of both their respective qualifying groups, and started in 21st and 22nd. 


However, the team worked their magic and the following day had an unbelievable quali with Dennis achieving the Julius Baer Pole Position. Even for Nato, he managed to start third and gave Andretti a great chance for strategy opportunities when it came to lights out. 

Dennis ended up finishing fifth, but after a retirement on the Saturday he’ll be happy with the haul of points. Unfortunately for Nato, he wasn’t so lucky and crashed with Nissan’s Sacha Fenestraz during the race which saw him handed a 10-second time penalty and placed him 19th. 

Brilliance from Barnard 

One of the biggest stories of the Berlin weekend came from the NEOM McLaren camp. 19-year-old Taylor Barnard managed to score championship points in both rounds, showing his impressive talents when covering for an injured Sam Bird. 

Bird, who broke his hand in an incident during Monaco practice, was ruled out of both the Monaco and Berlin E-Prix, meaning Taylor had to make the step up. Not only has he got the crown of youngest-ever Formula E starter, he now boasts the title of youngest points scorer too. 


For Round 9, Barnard managed a single point by finishing in 10th. Despite the great accomplishment, he was sure there was room for more and he delivered on his word the following day when he clinched eighth place in just his third race. 

With the expectation being that Bird will be back for the Shanghai double-header next time out, rest and recovery permitting, the young Brit was sure to thank the NEOM McLaren team for the opportunity once his race was over. 

Cassidy’s comeback masterclass 

Nick Cassidy pulled off one of the most ambitious victories we have ever seen in the 10 seasons of Formula E, when he managed a strategy masterclass to win Round 9 despite being down in 21st at one point during the race. 


The Jaguar man started in ninth, but struggled with pace early on and dropped back. Despite this, he kept his head down and stayed out of trouble to soar past several members of the grid and work his way up to the front. Cassidy's winning move came on Lap 43, slicing past the Nissan of Oliver Rowland and DS PENSKE’s Jean-Eric Vergne on the same lap. 

The collection of silverware didn’t end there, as the next day Cassidy found himself back on the podium – only this time in second. Still, it was still a super strong weekend for the Kiwi and now moves him to the top of the Drivers’ World Championship standings with six rounds left to go. 

FEATURE: The major automotive manufacturers' that formed Formula E's history  

“It’s been a successful weekend - my most successful to date in my Formula E history - and we leave Berlin leading the Drivers’ World Championship,” Cassidy explained. “It felt like we’d adapted the car to be well suited for this track, so feeling really proud of the team for that. Hoping to take this positive momentum into the next race weekend in Shanghai.”

New kids on the block 

Several of our regular faces were absent this weekend in Berlin, due to a previous commitment in the FIA World Endurance Championship. Nevertheless, the opportunity meant that several teams up and down the grid needed to source some talent to fill their slots. 

SUPER SUBS: Meet the drivers set for Berlin call ups

Envision Racing had the biggest shake up, with both of their regular drivers unavailable to race. Sebastien Buemi and Robin Frijns were at track on the Sunday, but FIA regulations prevented them competing in Round 10 - with the two races being considered part of the same event. 

Instead they called upon Joel Eriksson, who had Formula E race experience before this – and total rookie Paul Aron. For Eriksson, a great ninth place on Sunday resulted in his career-best finish in the all-electric championship. Aron was also very impressive considering his lack of testing and prep, with the F2 title contender getting some great experience over the double-header weekend. 


“It was crazy,” the 20-year-old Estonian said after finishing his first Formula E race. “Definitely not something I am used to before and I have never been side-by-side with that many cars for that long to be honest! This race, the amount of time I spent by the side of other cars was the equivalent to what I have done in the past three years of my career.”

Jordan King of Mahindra also got his Formula E debut, in addition to Kelvin van der Linde marking his comeback with ABT CUPRA.

Consistency is king in title fight 

Okay, so this one isn’t a new thing we’ve learned. However, now we are over half way through the season and talks of championship favourites are starting to heat up. Naturally, there are still six races to go – two each in Shanghai, Portland and a finale in London – which means anything could happen between now and the end of Season 10. 

You could suggest Nick Cassidy is the firm favourite as he now has a healthy gap to second-placed Pascal Wehrlein (Porsche), but he wasn't the standings leader coming into Berlin which just shows how the tables can turn. Cassidy has seven podiums this season and is the only two-time race winner alongside Wehrlein so far this year. Although there have been challenges such as his two DNFs in São Paulo and Misano, he has shown that there’s strength in numbers with his impressive haul of points so far. 


The same has to be said of Nissan’s Oliver Rowland. He did an incredible job in Berlin to also double up on podiums, despite starting in 15th and 16th over the two days. Since the season opener in Mexico City, the Yorkshireman has totalled up four third places, a second position and the win in Misano which he inherited from Da Costa’s disqualification. Although he has played down the idea of a championship win, there’s no denying that the idea of a World Championship title will be playing on his mind as we approach the final stretch of Season 10. 

STANDINGS: How things look after Round 10

Although Pascal Wehrlein sits second in the standing, his run of podiums have been significantly less than his rivals. For the German, his only two podium appearances have come from his wins in Mexico City and Misano. Despite this, he has been very consistent in finishing races and doing so in decent points-scoring positions. Even in Round 10, when his teammate won, Wehrlein was just short of the top three when he finished in fourth. 

It’s going to be fascinating to see how the championship works itself out!