2020 Berlin ePrix III

The ABB Formula E Series is closing out its 2019–2020 season with six races over the course of nine days at Tempelhof Airport in Berlin. Maximilian Günther in the #28 i Andretti iFE.20 won the third race, run on August 8, but both Günther and his teammate Alexander Sims struggled in races one, two, and four. With two races remaining on August 12 and 13, DS Techeetah’s António Félix da Costa, Sims’ teammate at i Andretti last season, has clinched the drivers’ championship, and DS Techeetah has won the team title.

Félix da Costa, who had finished just ahead of Günther at Marrakesh on February 29, just before the series went on hiatus because of the coronavirus pandemic, kept his winning form in the first two Tempelhof races run on August 5 and 6. Günther finished eighth in the first race, but was later disqualified for using too much energy. Sims finished tenth on the circuit, but was promoted to ninth when Günther was disqualified. In the second race, Sims finished nineteenth, while Günther did not finish after a collision with another car.

Günther’s fortunes changed dramatically on August 8, when the racers returned to Tempelhof to run on an altered circuit configuration. He scored a convincing win, holding off a hard-charging Robin Frijns, running for Envision-Virgin; Günther‘s margin of victory was a scant .128 seconds. Sims scored a point on Saturday with a tenth-place finish, while Félix da Costa finished fourth.

But the team’s fortunes changed again on Sunday, as neither of the iFE.20s had adequate qualifying pace. Sims started sixteenth and Günther qualified twenty-first. Günther’s race ended on the first lap when he was caught in a collision, running into the dramatically slowing NIO of Oliver Turvey. Sims was unable to get into the points; he finished thirteenth. Félix da Costa finished second, behind his DS Techeetah teammate Jean-Eric Vergne. The one-two finish clinched the team title for DS Techeetah and the drivers’ championship for Félix da Costa.

BMW i Andretti team principal Roger Griffiths said, “How things can change within the space of 24 hours. We were all on a high after our win yesterday, but today was hugely disappointing, firstly due to Maximilian Günther’s accident. Before that, he was unable to take his good pace from the practice session, in which he finished second, with him into qualifying. Alexander Sims was unable to find a real rhythm throughout the entire day and had difficulties moving up out of the middle of the field in the race. We have two days off now. We need to use them to repair Maximilian’s car and to understand how we can win one day and not have the pace for the leading positions the next.”

Going into the final two races, Günther is third in drivers’ points behind Félix da Costa and Vergne, and Sims is eleventh. BMW i Andretti Motorsport is third in team points, behind DS Techeetah and Nissan E.Dams. The gap to Nissan is just three points, so second in team standings is a real possibility if performance in the last two races is good.—Brian Morgan

[Photos courtesy BMW Motorsport.]

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