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While Siggy won the Challenge grid race outright, Vandoorne’s second-place finish sealed the deal for the Mercedes-Benz EQ racer
The grand final round of the FIA ABB Formula E Race At Home Challenge was held at the Berlin Templehof circuit in Berlin, Germany, a 2.4km circuit with 10 corners that had quite a few overtaking opportunities, courtesy the wide track built on the Templehof airfield.
Being the conclusion of the Race At Home challenge consisting of point scoring rounds, there were double points on offer for the winner and the honour of being the first Race At Home champion at the end of this round. Additionally, the winner of the Challenge grid 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.
Mahindra Racing’s Pascal Wehrlein was now leading the championship with 130 points, 14 points ahead of Mercedes-Benz EQ’s Stoffel Vandoorne, with Maximilian Gunther still a distant third with 88 points.
For the Driver’s grid qualifiers, the racers went out in reverse championship order. Nissan E.Dams’ Oliver Rowland set the fastest time of 1:09.139 minutes and won the two points that go to the pole position. Behind him was Wehrlein, with a time of 1:09.380 minutes, and just three-thousands of a second behind Wehrlein was Vandoorne (1:09.383). Though Wehrlein still holds onto his 14-point lead over Vandoorne, but talk about close competition!
In the Envision Virgin Racing team, Alice Powell filled in for Robin Frijns, while Sam Dejonghe made his debut in the Mahindra Racing team, filling in for Jerome D’Ambrosio.
For the Challenge grid, it was the championship standings deciding the starting positions. Hence, the final race consisted of only 17 drivers who had scored points so far. BMW iAndretti’s Kevin Siggy, leading with 148 points, was at the head of the grid. However, it was Mahindra Racing’s Lucas Mueller, now in second place with 99 points, who looked poised to win it all. The third place went to Geox Dragon’s Peyo Peev, with 84 points.
As mentioned, there were double points on offer here, with 54 points going to the winner, 36 to second place and 30 to third place. And as always, both the races used the Race Royale format over 15 laps. Here, post Lap 3, the last driver in the end of each lap is eliminated. The pressure builds until only 12 racers remain, leaving a single-lap sprint to the finish line.
Race – Challenge grid
Going into Corner 3 of Lap 1, Panasonic Jaguar Racing’s Petar Brljak was able to pass Peev and climb to P3, with Siggy and Mueller holding the 1-2 spots, though with only a quarter of a second separating them. There was quite a bit of contact between both throughout the duration of the lap. Brljak, too, was now closing in on Mueller, from just under half-a-second away. Just behind him now was Tag Heuer Porsche’s Joshua Rogers, with Peev dropping another spot. Going into Lap 3, and Siggy had widened his lead to seven-tenths over Mueller, who himself was over half-a-second ahead of Brljak. The next lap saw Siggy pull further away, now to just under a second.
The first third of the race done, and the positions remained unchanged, the sequence being Siggy, Mueller, Brljak, Rogers and Peev. Down the line, Mueller’s Mahindra Racing teammate Markus Keller had just got past Envision Virgin Racing’s Ben Hitz, to grab P11. His target, it seemed, was Tag Heuer Porsche’s Marius Golombeck, currently in P10, the last point-scoring position.
Siggy was now 1.5 seconds ahead of Mueller, who himself was almost 5 seconds clear of Brljak. Down the line, BMW iAndretti’s Cem Bolukbasi passed Nissan E.Dams’ Jan Von Der Heyde to bag P9. Going into the final third of the race and Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler’s Alisdair Irvine was eliminated. The gap at the front was still 1.5 seconds, with a yawning four-second gap separating Mueller (P2) and Brljak (P3).
In the penultimate lap of the race, Peev was doing his best to nick the final podium place from Brljak, from a scant 0.4 seconds away. Mueller, too, had cut down his gap with the leader to 1.2 seconds, though it seemed quite late for a charge now.
So there it was: BMW iAndretti’s Kevin Siggy was now the champion of the Formula E Race At Home Challenge grid, followed by Mahindra Racing’s Luca Mueller and Panasonic Jaguar Racing’s Petar Brljak.
Siggy’s win in a virtual Formula E car now gets him, as mentioned, a drive in the real thing, as well as a place in the BMW Sim M2 CS cup finals in Munich.
Race – Drivers grid
Setting off, polesitter Nissan E.Dams’ Oliver Rowland was able to hold on to the lead, with Mahindra Racing’s Pascal Wehrlein warding off attacks from Mercedes-Benz EQ’s Stoffel Vandoorne. However, the Corner 1 scramble saw third-placed BMW iAndretti’s Maximilian Gunther fall down to P10, with Nissan E.Dams’ Sebastien Buemi climbing up to P4, leapfrogging Rokit Venturi Racing’s Edoardo Mortara as well. Almost simultaneously, there was contact between Buemi and Vandoorne, which caused Wehrlein to spin out and drop all the way down to the back of the grid. Going into Lap 2 and Rowland was still leading with Vandoorne now 2.7 seconds behind and Gunther in P3. Wehrlein, meanwhile, had marginally remedied his situation, climbing to P16.
Despite losing a lot of places in the start, Gunther was now back to P3, pushing Buemi to P4, while Wehrlein was up to P13. Up front, Vandoorne was 2.4 seconds behind race leader Rowland. The next lap saw Wehrlein pass DS Techeetah’s Jean Eric Vergne and get to P12 and close in on Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler’s Kelvin Van Der Linde. As it stood, for Wehrlein to maintain his championship lead, he’d need Vandoorne to finish second, while he himself would need to finish at least fourth.
At the halfway point, the top four were still very spread out, with Buemi and Mortara the closest, at ‘just’ 3.5 seconds apart, while Buemi at P4 was now under a lot of pressure from Mortara. Lap 10 and it was confirmed that there was no penalty for Buemi for the Lap 1 carnage that put Wehrlein out of contention. Meanwhile, Wehrlein was still at the back, albeit in P11 after passing Tag Heuer Porsche’s Andre Lotterer. Up ahead, Mortara finally passed Buemi, picking up P4, with his eyes naturally set for at least the final spot on the grid.
With two laps to go, Vandoorne was still 2 seconds adrift of Rowland. Down the pack, Kelvin Van Der Linde got a second wind, lunging through a gap ahead of DS Techeetah’s Antonio Felix Da Costa, and picking up P9, leaving behind Wehrlein, still in P11. However, Da Costa was able to regain his position a few corners down, pushing Van Der Linde back down to P10. Finally, Wehlein was able to pass both going into the final lap.
Ultimately, Nissan E.Dams’ Oliver Rowland won the race, but it was Stoffel Vandoorne, who’s second-place finish gave him just enough points to topple Wehrlein off the lead and claim the title of the first ever Formula E Race At Home champion. BMW iAndretti’s Maxmilian gunther rounding off the podium.
Vandoorne has got the highest number of pole positions in this championship, and though there is no doubt he was ‘helped’ to accrue this final and crucial win, his consistent pace was the main reason he was consistently ahead otherwise as well.