The BMW i Berlin E-Prix presented by CBMM Niobium, the fourth of the five races in the 2019 voestalpine European Races, has become the race of champions: in the end the winner, Lucas di Grassi, was joined on the podium by Sébastien Buemi and Jean-Éric Vergne, all of them champions in ABB FIA Formula E Championship. Reigning title holder Vergne came in third place with an impressive charge up the field, not only extending his lead in the current championship, but also moving to the top of the driver rankings in the voestalpine European Races. That makes the Frenchman from the DS TECHEETAH team the favorite to take the honors in the final race in Bern.
Audi wins its home race again
In the exciting atmosphere at the former Tempelhof airport there was plenty for the German fans to celebrate. The fourth race, the BMW i Berlin E-Prix presented by CBMM niobium was a repeat of last year, with the race won by a driver from the Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler team: in 2018, the driver was Daniel Abt, but this year’s win went to Lucas di Grassi. This is the tenth win in the Brazilian’s Formula E career to date, the second this season, and the first in a voestalpine European Race. Di Grassi now lies in second place in the ABB FIA Formula E Championship rankings, allowing him to continue his sensational performance—to date the Audi pilot has finished in 3rd, 2nd, 1st, and 2nd place in the overall rankings, putting him in the top three in every championship season. The Brazilian, who also won the first race in the history of the championship, in Beijing in 2014, also secured the additional point for the fastest race lap. “It feels so good, we’ve worked so hard over the past races,” says an elated Di Grassi who is “overjoyed.” Di Grassi’s victory was the result of a strong overtaking maneuver, taking him past Sébastien Buemi (Nissan e.dams) who had started in Julius Baer pole position and ended up finishing second. With Jean-Éric Vergne crossing the line in third place, in the end the drivers standing on the podium, set against an impressive background of thousands of fans, were all champions. Although this has been an extremely varied championship, it would appear that, in the end, it is once again the legends of this motorsport who have succeeded in drawing on the benefits of their experience.
Ten (!) drivers are still in the running to win the voestalpine European Races trophy
For many, Vergne was the most exciting driver in the race. Once again this Parisian and renowned motorsport duelist drove convincingly, with excellent overtaking maneuvers taking him from his 8th place starting position to cross the finishing line in third. It was just the placing he needed to take the lead in the voestalpine European Race rankings, stealing it away from his unfortunate DS TECHEETAH team mate André Lotterer who was forced to start in last place due to technical problems, and then had to finish early after a strong race. As a result, at the final in Bern ten (!) drivers are in with a chance of winning the trophy for the best performance in the voestalpine European Races:
- Vergne (one 1st place, one 3rd place)
- Lotterer (two 2nd places)
- Di Grassi, Evans, Frijns (each one 1st place)
- Rowland, Buemi (each one 2nd place) sowie
- Vandoorne, Abt and Massa (each one 3rd place).
The fact that ten different drivers managed to secure the 12 total podium placings over four races demonstrates the balanced nature of the series. The winner of the trophy will be decided in Bern on June 22. Perhaps di Grassi’s dream will come true: the Berlin winner said during the presentation back at the beginning of April that, if he could, he’d love “to take the trophy home immediately.” Perhaps it will be in his hand-luggage after Bern.
Podium comeback immediately before the home race
Sébastien Buemi is just slightly ahead of Di Grassi as the most successful driver in the history of this race series. Now the Swiss driver will be delighted with his pole position and second place in the race. Unbelievably, this is only his first (!) podium placing in season five and in a Gen2 car. At the same time, it was his 13th pole position, putting him far in the lead in the all-time winners list of starters. Behind him in these statistics come Vergne and Felix Rosenqvist, with 8 and 6 starts from the front respectively. This surge has come at just the right time for Buemi, before his home race in Bern. He recently drove there in a show event: “I think it’ll be a very exciting race on a spectacular circuit, and with lots of changes in altitude.”
A touch of Hollywood in Formula E
There was a (very) good reason why many of the leading players in the ABB FIA Formula E Championship only arrived in Berlin on Friday morning; on Thursday they were still at the film festival in Cannes, for the presentation of the documentary about last season (2017/18). The film was produced by Hollywood director Fisher Stevens and titled “And We Go Green.” Formula E Founder & CEO Alejandro Agag celebrated there with Leonardo DiCaprio, Orlando Bloom, Brooklyn Beckham, Hana Cross, Adriana Lima, Pixie Lott, Oliver Cheshire, and Dua Lipa.
Commemorating Niki Lauda
Speaking of Hollywood: Niki Lauda, whose life was also the subject of a Hollywood film, was naturally in the thoughts of many of the drivers. Winner Lucas di Grassi reminded us that Lauda had been a huge inspiration for generations of drivers and Gary Paffett, once a team colleague of Lauda’s son Mathias, explained the impression Lauda’s personality had made on him. There was a minute’s silence for the Austrian legend before the race.
The final of the voestalpine European Races will take place in Bern, on June 22, 2019.