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As before, the races included both professional esports as well as full-time Formula E drivers battling it out in a virtual format, with all proceeds going to UNICEF
Round three of the ABB Formula E Race At Home Challenge went underway on May 9 at the Circuit de Monaco (the Monaco street circuit), where Formula E has raced since its inception five years ago. The ABB Formula E Race At Home challenge features all the teams and drivers from the ABB FIA Formula E championship as well as a selection of the world’s fastest gamers.
As before, the challenge comprised two distinct grids, the Driver grid consisting of the stars of the Formula E Championship competing head to head, and the Challenge grid, formed in part by open online qualifiers, featuring a selection of the fastest gamers and influencers on the esports scene. Through the medium of the races, the Formula E manufacturers, drivers and fans aimed to raise funds for UNICEF to keep children around the world healthy safe and learning during the coronavirus crisis.
Interestingly, this year Formula E is launching Predict-a-Game, so you can play at home by picking a favourite driver and compete against others. You’ll be able to predict the race winner, fastest lap, the pole position, first driver eliminated, runner up, and even last finisher. You can click here to play.
But that’s not all, as viewers can also participate in the Bosch Trophy Design at Home challenge. Open to all, the best design will be 3-d printed and awarded to the winner of the Race at Home challenge. You will also get your own trophy. The deadline for the entries is the May 19, so click here and get drawing!
As before, the Race At Home challenge consist of point scoring rounds. The season will consist of seven point-scoring rounds, leading to a double-header grand final, to be held on the weekend of June 6-7, where it’ll be double points on offer for the winner and the honour of being the first Race At Home champion.
In the Challenge grid, the grand final race winner will also win a chance to drive in a Gen 2 Formula e car, along with a place in the BMW Sim M2 CS cup finals in Munich.
Qualifying at each event was a hurried fare. Both the Challenge and Driver grid set out in groups of six in a series of one-lap qualifiers to determine the order of the grid.
So far, Siggy, Peev and Nio 333's Petar Brljak had been trading fastest laps. They did so in the weekend as well as in the races, where they have been just around a tenth to a half of a second from each other. Siggy has a five-point lead in the championship over Brljak. This race also saw participation from two women (Mercedes-Benz EQ's Sophia Florsch and BMW iAndretti's Charlie Martin) on the grid.
It was stiff competition at the Drivers grid qualifiers, with Mahindra Racing’s Pascal Wehrlein setting the fastest time of 51.592 seconds. Mercedes-Benz Eq’s Stoffel Vandoorne was just a tenth of a second behind him, Rokit Venturi’s Edoardo Mortara was 0.29 seconds off, while Geox Dragon’s Nico Muller just seven-tenths behind Wehrlein. And, Nissan E. Dams’ Oliver Rowland was just a twentieth of a second behind Muller. In fact, a staggering twenty-one of the twenty-four drivers all set a time within a second of Wehrlein’s.
As always, the online events use the Race Royale format over 15 laps, where the last driver in the end of each lap is eliminated. The pressure will build until only 12 will remain, leaving a single-lap sprint to the finish line.
Race – Challenge grid
BMW iAndretti Motorsport's Kevin Siggy got a good start, as did the next three (Mahindra Racing's Lucas Mueller, Geox Dragon's Peyo Peev and Nio 333's Petar Brljak). Going into Sainte Devote (Corner 1), Peev clipped the wall. Taking advantage, Jacob Reid tried his best to pressurise both Peev and Brljak, but to no avail, finally having to settle for fifth place. At the back of the grid, Nio 333's Ye Yifei had fallen to the last place, with DS Techeetah's Scott Sovik and Geox Dragon's Kevin Morville taking up the places just ahead of him. This meant many of them will have to make up a lot of places, before the elimination hammer starts falling.
Going into Lap 2, and Rokit Venturi Racing's Gareth Paterson, who was not able to qualify on time. Had already climbed up to the 20th place. At the front, Panasonic Jaguar Racing's Remco Majoor smashed into the barriers going into the Piscine or swimming pool (Corner 14) and narrowly missing Nissan E.Dams' Niek Jacobs. Meanwhile, Virgin Envision Racing's Ben Hitz passed Audi ABT Schaeffler's Eric Stranne on the inside, climbing into the ninth place just behind Reid.
In Lap 3, Siggy was still out front, though Lucas Mueller was gaining on him, now just 0.837 seconds behind. However, Siggy was able to find some gaps in the twisties, and was soon 1.1 seconds ahead. By the end of the lap, the eliminations started, with Charlie Martin the first to be taken out of the race, partly because she had spun out in the opening lap.
Coming into the sixth Lap and Kevin Siggy’s lead had gone up to 1.7 seconds, a great effort considering the fact he had taken pole by less than a second. At the back, with the elimination closing in, Sophia Floersch (P 20) was in pitched battle with Ye Yifei (P 19), although to no avail.
With half the race done, Siggy’s lead was now up to two seconds on Lucas Mueller, with Peyo Peev in third spot, just in front of Petar Brljak. If Peev stays in front, that could move him to second place, and ahead of Brljak in the championship standings as well. At the back of the pack, Simona De Silvestro was eliminated as well, which meant both women on the grid were now out of the race, which now had only 17 drivers. The current back markers – Tag Hueur Porsche's Alisdair Irvine, Panasonic Jaguar Racing's Alex Lynn and Audi ABT Schaeffler's Axel La Flamme – were in pitched battle to get out of the dreaded last spot, which saw La Flamme momentarily spin out at La Rascasse (Corner 17), inadvertently suffering contact with Alex Lynn.
Till this point, La Flamme had had a solid race, making it all the way till 14th position and making up a few places but unfortunately loses out to Alex Lynn on this occasion, which means Irvine's was the next car out, going into lap 11. With damage at 80 per cent, La Flamme’s car definitely underwent quite a bit of damage, and as he was nursing the car, his pace was dropping and he was already a second behind Lynn.
By Lap 13, however, both Lynn and La Flamme were out of contention, with Mahindra Racing’s Marcus Keller now the back marker. Shifting our focus back to the head of the pack, and Kevin Siggy was leading, with Lucas Mueller, 2.8 seconds back, in the second spot. Then was Peyo Peev in third place, just three-tenths of a second behind Petar Brljak, so a really tight fight for third place.
Ultimately, it was Kevin Siggy who took the crown in the Challenge race winning a total of 27 points (for pole position as well as fastest lap), with Lucas Mueller in second place and Peyo Peev rounding off the grid, coming in just four-tenths of a second ahead of Petar Brljak.
With a third-place finish in Hong Kong (round 1), second place at Electric Docks (round 2) and the victory in round three, Siggy extended his lead at the top of the championship.
Race – Drivers grid
As the race gets underway, BMW iAndretti motorsport’ Max Gunther has a 20-point lead over Envision Virgin Racing’s Robin Frijns, who has an eight-point lead over Stoffel Vandoorne and a 12-point lead over Wehrlein. Wehrlein’s teammate Jerome D’Ambrosio is currently in 12th place, with just two points.
As the green flag dropped, Wehrlein was able to get a good jump, and start making some distance. This was immensely helpful as just after Sainte Devote (Corner 1) Mortara ploughed into Vandoorne, causing a bottleneck which then led to Panasonic Jaguar Racing’s Mitch Evans suffering sustained contact with Mortara, cultimating in a series of crashes that basically turned the grid upside-down. Taking advantage of this Gunther to climbed to third place, while Mortara to drop to twelfth within the next two corners!
Going into harbour hairpin and Wehrlein in the lead, with Vandoorne second, and Frijns in fifth place. Rokit Venturi Racing’s Felipe Massa in thirteenth place, followed by Panasonic Jaguar Racing’s James Calado.
Lap two saw Wehrlein make up a lead of more than two seconds over Vandoorne, while Evans was eliminated in the next lap, no doubt as a result of the damage he sustained during the crashes. One more lap down, and DS Techeetah’s Antonio Felix Da Costa was the next to be eliminated.
By Lap 5, Wehrlein was close to two seconds ahead of Vandoorne, followed by Gunther, Tag Heuer Porsche’s Neel Jani, and Envision Virgin Racing’s Robin Frijns. Meanwhile back marker Mercedes-Benz EQ’s Nyck De Vries went out of the race. The never-ending crash in the start ended up spreading out the field quite a bit.
For his part, Wehrlein was continuing on his offensive, going lap after lap with metronomic precision. Envision Virgin Racing’s Sam Bird was slapped with a drive-through penalty, and in twentieth place, was soon eliminated. In the middle of the back, Panasonic Jaguar Racing’s James Calado, on his debut Formula E season, was having a bit of trouble passing Geox Dragon’s Brendon Hartley.
Half the race finished, and Wehrlein was going from strength to strength, and set yet another fastest lap and widening his lead over Vandoorne to over 2.6 seconds. Meanwhile, after patiently shadowing Hartley for almost half a lap, Calado finally made his move at Sainte Devote (Corner 1), managing to bump-and-grind his way past.
The next lap saw Felipe Massa trying to get past BMW iAndretti Motorsport’s Alexander Sims, as Massa (P15) was just two laps away from the elimination stakes and needed to make a move fast. Wehrlein’s lead over Vandoorne was 3.1 seconds, and Gunther too seemed to have fallen an additional second behind him.
Meanwhile James Calado was now almost charging ahead, and had Mahindra Racing’s Jerome D’Ambrosio in his crosshairs. Just up ahead, Nio 333 FE’s Qinghua Ma (P7) was doing his best to keep Tag Heuer Porsche’s Andre Lotterer at bay. However, Lotterer made his move by driving right into Xinghua, a calculated risk, as though it gave him a momentary lead (pushing Xinghua two places down), it also undoubtedly played hob with his car. Not to mention, Lotterer’s actions will definitely be scrutinised by the stewards for any applicable penalties, once the race concludes. That said, an unintended consequence of the crash was Geox Dragon’s Nico Muller getting a push into P8.
With two laps to go, while Wehrlein was in front with a hefty three-second lead, his teammate D’Ambrosio, was facing elimination. In the middle of the pack, Brendon Hartley tried his luck to get out of P13 with a pass and a sudden burst of speed, momentarily making contact with Alexander Sims.
The final lap started off with Hartley eliminated, Nico Muller (P8) doing his best to keep up with Andre Lotterer, Gunther (P3) falling behind from Vandoorne, while Wehrlein was enjoying his 3.5-second lead with a Zen-like focus on the finish line, finally taking victory, with Stoffel Vandoorne and Maximilian Gunther coming in second and third respectively.
From the very start, Wehrlein (much like Kevin Siggy in the Challenge race) was able to get away from the chaos and keep his confidence up. Not only did he lead throughout, he also had the fastest lap in the race. This was the Mahindra driver’s first win at the FIA ABB Formula E Race At Home Challenge.