Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Berlin E-Prix: Nick Cassidy Wins Tactical Race to Throw Title Fight Wide-Open

Nick Cassidy finished the Berlin E-Prix double-header in the best way possible, by claiming a sensational victory in the German capital, with Jake Dennis and Jean-Éric Vergne completing the podium in the eighth round of the 2022/23 ABB FIA Formula E World Championship. Championship leader Pascal Wehrlein could only manage seventh, meaning his championship lead took a huge hit.

Müller Sticks With Leading Group

With the sun having come out at the Tempelhof Airport Circuit, it looked set to be another thrilling race, especially with one-hundred and ninety overtakes having taken place in race one on Saturday. The big question, though, was whether polesitter Robin Frijns and Nico Müller could hold on to first and second, after locking-out the front row on the grid for ABT CUPRA Formula E Team, following a dramatic wet qualifying.

After a brief delay to the start due to protesters on the circuit, the red lights finally came on, as the entire grid got ready for the eighth round of the championship. As the lights went out it was Frijns and Müller who remained first and second after making a sublime start, whilst several championship contenders battled behind. Similar to Saturday, the vast majority of the drivers activated their first Attack Mode early on, with the two ABT CUPRA drivers having activated their first on Lap Four.

By the time all the leading drivers had activated their first, Frijns remained in the lead but from Saturday’s winner Mitch Evans, who was yet to activate his first. Behind Evans was Vergne and Müller, who had activated theirs. Frijns fell back to fifth on Lap Seven, though, after deciding to take his second Attack Mode. Fifth soon became eighth on Lap Nine, with the faster drivers having made their way towards the front. The Dutch driver was outside the top ten by Lap Ten.

ABT CUPRA still had hope, though, as Müller found himself in the lead after all the frontrunners had take both of their Attack Modes. He soon fell behind Wehrlein, as the championship leader moved to the front on Lap Twelve. André Lotterer became the first driver to hit the wall on Lap Thirteen, with his broken front wing from his incident having been scattered across the circuit, causing mayhem behind.

Cassidy Moves to the Front

All the leading drivers suddenly slowed to avoid debris, with Sébastian Buemi having found himself in the lead all of a sudden. On Lap Seventeen, Buemi led from Wehrlein, António Félix da Costa and Cassidy; however, this soon changed. Just like Saturday, the running order was constantly changing, whilst there was drama for Sam Bird who was forced to pit for a front wing change, as was Edoardo Mortara a few laps prior.

Buemi became another driver to lose their front wing, ending the Swiss driver’s hopes of victory, with him having tumbled down the order as a result. Wehrlein inherited the lead as the race moved onto Lap Twenty-Three, with the top eighteen having been separated by just seven seconds. The man on the move was Maximilian Günther, who was on the hunt for back-to-back podiums. The German found himself in fifth despite having started twenty-first, marking a great recovery drive.

Elsewhere, Müller slipped outside the top ten, with ABT CUPRA having simply not had the pace. Back at the front, and Cassidy was suddenly into the lead from Jake Dennis, with Vergne and Wehrlein in third and fourth. It was remarkable that despite all the action, a Safety Car still hadn’t been needed during the race. Evans was clearly hungry to claim a third consecutive win and complete the double in Berlin, with the New Zealander having made his way to fourth, after seemingly copying whatever Da Costa did ahead.

Cassidy Claims Famous Win

With all the leading drivers having done all their energy saving, the field began to ramp up the piece, with overtaking having become much more aggressive. There was suddenly a gap between the top three and Evans in fourth after Da Costa clipped the New Zealander at Turn Nine, meaning Evans had to use more energy to catch the leading trio.

As the race entered its final four laps, Cassidy remained in the lead from Dennis, Vergne and Evans, with next to nothing having separated the top seven. Elsewhere, Müller had done fantastically to get himself back into the top ten, with the Swiss driver having been in ninth with three laps remaining. On the penultimate lap the top seven remained as they were, with Wehrlein in seventh having looked set to lose a significant amount of his championship lead.

As they started the final lap, the fight for the win was still absolutely on; however, Cassidy remained in the lead out of Turn Six. Cassidy’s final lap was absolutely mega, with the Envision Racing driver having held on right to the end, to claim a huge win. Dennis held on for second with Vergne finishing third, whilst Evans finished fourth. Championship leader Wehrlein finished seventh, whilst Müller held on to ninth to claim his and ABT CUPRA’s first points of 2023, in what was a brilliant moment for the Germans. ABT CUPRA also claimed three points for Frijns’ pole position.

Following Cassidy’s incredible victory, Wehrlein’s lead in the standings was cut from twenty-three points to just four, with Cassidy now being within striking distance of the German in the championship. So after a remarkable weekend in Berlin, Wehrlein and TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team do both remain at the top of the championships; albeit, by a reduced number ahead of the next round in Monaco!

Berlin E-Prix Round 8: Full Race Results

1 37 Nick Cassidy NZL Envision Racing 46:34.509
2 27 Jake Dennis GBR Avalanche Andretti Formula E +0.442
3 25 Jean-Éric Vergne FRA DS Penske +1.292
4 9 Mitch Evans NZL Jaguar TCS Racing +1.769
5 13 António Félix da Costa PRT TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team +2.460
6 7 Maximilian Günther DEU Maserati MSG Racing +2.981
7 94 Pascal Wehrlein DEU TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team +3.545
8 1 Stoffel Vandoorne BEL DS Penske +4.851
9 51 Nico Müller CHE ABT CUPRA Formula E Team +6.612
10 33 Dan Ticktum GBR NIO 333 Racing +7.822
11 23 Sacha Fenestraz FRA Nissan Formula E Team +9.461
12 11 Lucas Di Grassi BRZ Mahindra Racing +9.462
13 58 René Rast DEU NEOM McLaren Formula E Team +9.678
14 8 Oliver Rowland GBR Mahindra Racing +11.780
15 3 Sérgio Sette Câmara BRZ NIO 333 Racing +13.687
16 17 Norman Nato FRA Nissan Formula E Team +13.749
17 4 Robin Frijns NLD ABT CUPRA Formula E Team +22.937
18 5 Jake Hughes GBR NEOM McLaren Formula E Team +29.580
19 10 Sam Bird GBR Jaguar TCS Racing +34.381
20 16 Sébastian Buemi CHE Envision Racing +1:03.532
21 36 André Lotterer DEU Avalanche Andretti Formula E +1:04.102
22 48 Edoardo Mortara CHE Maserati MSG Racing +3 Laps