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21st May 2018

Awesome Abt and Audi reign supreme in Berlin

Morgan Lowrie

In Partnership with Formula E

Round 9 began with Daniel Abt starting his home race on pole on a wonderfully sunny day in the German capital, with Felix Rosenqvist appearing to sky dive into Berlin greeting Nico Rosberg at the track.

After an exciting qualifying session , the Audi driver was ahead of Oliver Turvey, and championship leader Jean Eric Vergne on the grid, whilst Turvey’s British counterpart Sam Bird, who before the race, was breathing down the neck of Vergne in the standings, started the day in tenth.

Berlin is famed for being one of the most competitive courses, having the longest and widest track on the circuit and the action did not disappoint. Vergne who was looking to add another victory to the three he has amassed in season four, started the race poorly as he was almost instantaneously overtaken by Dragon driver d’ambrosio. The Tempelhof airfield was about to host a very eventful day and Felix Rosenqvist, potentially still a bit dizzy from his skydiving antics, span on the very first turn, but fortunately he and his car were undamaged, and the race continued.

Vergne was feeling the pressure early, to give his championship ambitions a real chance, DS Virgin Racing’s Sam Bird had to finish ahead of the Techeetah speedster, and he was doing everything in his power, jumping from tenth to seventh as the Frenchman Vergne had slipped down to fourth thanks to d’ambrosio’s electric start. Unfortunately for the Dragon driver, he was not able to maintain that fantastic level, as he started to slip down the pack, and engage in an enthralling battle with Audi’s Lucas di Grassi and Renaults Sébastien Buemi. It wasn’t the last we were to hear of two former Formula One stars.

Leading the charge through lap ten, Daniel Abt was in no mood to spoil his own party, as he pulled almost three seconds ahead of second placed Oliver Turvey. The Audi pacesetters day was about to get better as the fan boost results came in, as he, with Mahindra racing counterpart Rosenqvist and Swiss Buemi, were the three to receive the potentially race changing accolade.

Lap twelve came around with di Grassi and Buemi showing smart moves to overtake Vergne as he dropped to down to fifth. Sam Bird had also dropped to eighth place but was now closer than he had been at any point to challenging his closest championship rival. di Grassi’s eventful afternoon was only just beginning, as he showed sensational skill and focus to overtake Turvey, consequently giving Audi a one-two through lap fourteen.

d’Ambrosio promised so much with his start, but his day was going from bad to worse, as he slid down the grid thanks to Panasonic Jaguar’s Mitch Evans, jumping ahead of him into sixth place. For the first time in the whole race Daniel Abt looked like he may be facing a challenge, as di Grassi continued his brilliant drive, giving pursuit to the sensational Abt, but the 23 year old showed amazing consistency to hold off the challenge.

NIO’s Turvey pitted a lap earlier than most of the competitors due to his high amounts of energy consumption through 22 laps, but he did so with such seamless ease he was almost instantly back in contention for a podium finish. It wasn’t such fun for New Zealander Mitch Evans, as he almost crashed into team mate Nelson Piquet Jr as he came in for his pit stop. Fans showed their appreciation to the German Abt in what was a fantastic atmosphere, as he pulled back out of the pit lane, in his second car. This would be the last time the home crowd would see a car change, as the higher power vehicles will require no changeovers in season five.

The Techeetah engineers were starting to get a little tense, as their championship leader Vergne still lingered in fifth place over half way through the race, Sam Bird still hadn’t managed to cut the gap closer, but with slightly more energy in the tank, they knew his car had the potential to do it. Abt was still looking unstoppable through lap 30, but a battle was emerging elsewhere, as Alex Lynn was heading a fight at the rear of the pack that also involved Lotterer, who started the day in flat last after a ten grid place penalty from the previous race. Techeetah’s anxious eyes were turning towards their man Lotterer as he was performing miracles slowly edging up the grid.

Buemi and Vergne were not ready to concede to Abt and di Grassi still out in first and second. They both jumped ahead Turvey in lap 34, with Vergne relentless in his pursuit, as he steamed ahead of Buemi in the next corner, but all his effort would still keep him 15 seconds behind both Audi’s. A sense of bemusement rang around the stadium in the final three laps as Rosenqvist used his fanboost to ill effect, as he just managed to hang on in 15th, despite his advantage. This was the beginning of a crazy final few minutes. Desperate for a top ten finish and points, Lopez, Dillmann, Piquet and Heidfeld battled and strived with Heidfeld the victor squeezing into tenth place.

The final lap looked a formality. Abt and di Grassi were streets ahead, Heidfeld had won the battle of the middle whilst Lotterer had pulled off the spectacular after starting the day last, he had climbed to ninth! Piquet and Lopez were determined to make sure the action did not stop there. Both span off in lap 44 doing everything in their power to get points, but it wasn’t to be. Pulsating driving to end the race, but there was only one man on fans lips. Daniel Abt. The Germans most dominant performance of the season, and at least on a level with Vergnes in Punta Del Este, but rather than Vergne taking the spoils, Berlin belonged to Abt.

A fantastic day for German racing, that witnessed a home victor, an Audi One-Two, all Germans in the top 10, whilst a third place for finish for Vergne, stretched his championship lead to 40 points. Amazing scenes took place at the podium, fans cheered and chanted their compatriot’s name. Abt was overcome with emotion as he explained “what more can you ask for, thank you so much”. The interviewer replied, “you could ask for a party”, Abt, in his typical way, exclaimed, “I’m not going to ask, I’m going to do!”

Abt has set the standard for the final three races of the season, next stop Zurich, with a double header in NYC to close out what has been a spectacular season four. Expect fireworks.


Formula E