Formula E Berlin E-Prix 2019
Berlin E-Prix 2019 – Attack Mode, Fanboost and Celebrate Change. Is electro-mobility in motorsports on the fast lane? The Formula E weekend in Berlin, including the Greentech Festival and the Automobile Exhibition, was a celebration for green technology enthusiasts, open-minded motor sports fans and people with enthusiasm for racy car designs.
The ABB FIA Formula E has long since left behind the pure experimental field status. Many skeptics have meanwhile been convinced by the action-packed racing series, which demands high driving skills from participating drivers. Marketing experts and entrepreneurs are increasingly recognizing the potential of the emission-free racing series. The trend is green. Like the adrenaline level increasing light that shines before every start of a Formula E race.
“A great race for Audi. It was a very strategic race with a lot of energy saving and our cars seemed to be very efficient today. I’m very happy.” Lucas di Grassi saved the Tempelhof field for Audi on May 25. That Saturday, the Brazilian was in a happy winning position at the very top of the podium of the BMW i Berlin E-Prix of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship 2019. Lucas di Grassi has been in Formula E since the beginning of this motorsports series – as a driver and in the early days, he has contributed as a consultant. The racing driver also manufactures e-bikes and is the CEO of Roborace – another forward-looking racing series that is about autonomous driving. Jean-Éric Vergne, reigning Formula E Champion, started from 6th place in Berlin and finished on the podium. The Frenchman in the gleaming gold DS Techeetah overtook the Swiss Sébastien Buemi, who started for Nissan with fascinating manoeuvres and finished third.
Sébastien Buemi, champion of the season 2015/16, went from pole for Nissan e.dams on the 2,375 km long track in Berlin Tempelhof. André Lotterer started for DS Techeetah in the last place position, but quickly made up ground. The Duisburg-born Lotterer, who grew up in Belgium, was able to prepare for 15th place in the first rounds. He activated the so-called Attack Mode with 32 minutes remaining. New in the 2018/19 season: Every driver can get an energy boost during the race if he drives through the designated activation zone and leaves the ideal line. The drivers can activate the mode twice, whereby the 25 kilowatt energy boost lasts four minutes. Drivers who secure this additional option for a higher speed can use the energy boost for a few laps, unless “Full Course Yellow” and/or the Safety Car is used just after activation. Attack Mode is also a strategic element that makes the races even more exciting for spectators and teams.
The German manufacturers BMW and Audi fought for victory in Berlin, but only one of them should be on top of the podium at the end. 20 minutes before the end of the race António Félix da Costa of BMW i Andretti Motorsport finished second and put pressure on the leading Lucas Di Grassi in his Audi. Buemi had meanwhile dropped back to third place. 17 minutes before the end of the race Buemi used his fan boost to make up ground. He overtook Da Costa. The fanboost gives 5 selected drivers more energy and Formula E fans a nice social media interaction with which they can influence the race a bit. The race series brings in fan engagement, gaining more reach. In the 6 days, up to 15 minutes before each race, Formula E fans vote via social media on which drivers will receive the extra energy boost that they can use in the second half of the race within a 5-second window.
About ten minutes before the end of the race, Alexander Lynn of the Panasonic Jaguar Racing team stopped on the start/finish line and reported problems with the rear axle. This was followed by “Full Course Yellow”, which means that all drivers must drive 50 km/h as long as the yellow flag is displayed. Alexander Lynn’s battered Jaguar was salvaged. Nine and a half minutes before the end – the race could be continued. Jean-Èric Vergne fought for a podium position. He managed to overtake António Félix da Costa in turn 10 and made it to the podium in third place.
At the lower end in the field, Vergne’s team mate Lotterer had difficulties with the battery. Although the German made up ten places since the start of the race, he had to park his car prematurely in the pits. Only one minute and one lap to the finish, Buemi fought. He managed to keep Vergne in third place while Lucas Di Grassi defended his lead in the final lap. “Today I wasn’t as fast as Lucas. It feels that we are not as efficient. We’re good in qualifying but we’re not strong enough in the race. We have to work hard to see what we can do better,” Sébastien Buemi said in the final press conference.
With his Audi e-tron FE.05 Lucas Di Grassi was the first to cross the finish line along an enthusiastic crowd and once again clinched Audi’s home victory. Last year his team-mate Daniel Abt won in Berlin. Sébastien Buemi crossed the finish line second ahead of Frenchman Vergne. Jean-Éric Vergne also clinched the championship lead with a 3rd place in Berlin. The DS Techeetah driver could win valuable points and had a lot of fun at the Berlin race. “It was really fun. It was a fantastic improvement. I have to thank my team because yesterday I was more than a second behind and had a big problem with the car. What we couldn’t find out during the day, they found it overnight,” explained the defending champion. And he continued: “This morning in qualifying I got into a brand new car feeling good with new brakes. I’m very happy with today’s result”. Team mate André Lotterer still could not win a race in the Techeetah, but with good overall placings he is third in the overall standings. This season, only a few races before the finale in New York, it is all open – almost everyone still has a chance of winning the title.
Formula E offers action-packed entertainment in a much shorter format than Formula 1. E-Prix races start, with a few exceptions, with a so-called standing start. The cars stop until the lights turn green. All drivers wait on a dummy grid – a short distance behind the actual starting line before slowly reaching the starting position. Smoke rises above the vehicles. When the green lights go out, the race has started. The E-Prix lasts 45 minutes. At the end, when the leader has crossed the finish line, another lap remains until the end of the race. Available power: 200 kW in normal race mode, 225 kW with fan boost and 225 kW in attack mode.
The interest in the electric racing series is not only growing among the public, the major media institutions are securing broadcasting rights, more and more companies are interested in Formula E – as sponsors, suppliers and vehicle manufacturers. In Germany, the races will be shown live on TV by ARD and ZDF. After Audi and BMW, Porsche and Mercedes will join Formula E Motorsport teams next season.
This year the audience seemed to be more businesslike and start-up scene recruited as it was the year before. The Greentech Festival, which was founded by ex-Formula 1 driver Nico Rosberg, among others, took place at Tempelhof Airport alongside the Formula E event. All visitors had the opportunity to see future-oriented innovations with a sustainable environmental focus: ideas for the environmentally friendly mobility of tomorrow – drone taxis, electric cars and motorcycles, the railway wagon of the future – moving people in an efficient, environmentally friendly and logistically sensible way is one of the great challenges of our time.
Emission-free electro-mobility is only one possible and currently obvious opportunity. However, the green benefit of this technology can only really be celebrated in the future if the necessary electricity is generated with clean energy. And if the batteries are produced in a fair way. It should be quite certain that people don not want to resign from valued comfort and habits. So it is important that courageous, innovative thinkers, entrepreneurs and engineers come together to develop products and solutions for a better, less destructed world of tomorrow. The Greentech Festival and the whole Formula E Championship event with its sporting and supporting programmes offer an ideal platform to promote new ideas and alternative technologies – to celebrate change.
As a motor sport, Formula E has definitely arrived in the perception of the media and the public. Perhaps at some point it will even leave Formula 1 behind. Next year the E-Prix will take place again at the Tempelhofer Feld. Then with two more new German manufacturers as rookies in the Formula E serie – Mercedes and Porsche. The list of results on the homepage of the FIA Formula E shows how a total of 5 drivers from Germany have performed at the Berlin E-Prix 2019.
The Berlin E-Prix 2020 is scheduled for 21st of June. In the next season the final will be held in London, for the first time.
Formula E races, drivers, teams: www.fiaformulae.com
All images: (c) Simone Fust – more Berlin E-Prix 2019 photos: https://simonefust.com/p5388732232 Likes