Monday, June 24, 2024

Berlin E-Prix: Stoffel Vandoorne Makes Perfect Start to Double-Header Weekend

Reigning World Champion Stoffel Vandoorne made the perfect start to the Berlin E-Prix double-header by topping Free Practice One, with the Belgian having finished the session as the fastest driver, with Jake Dennis less than a tenth behind.

As the sun shone at the famous Tempelhof Street Circuit, it was Edoardo Mortara who led the field out to kickstart the second double-header of the 2022/23 ABB FIA Formula E World Championship, with Free Practice One representing Round Seven of the campaign. With it being a venue that all the teams and the vast majority of the drivers know extremely well, it was no surprise to see several drivers get up to speed quickly, despite the Gen3 cars and the hard Hankook rubber.

There were, though, several complaints early on of no grip, as the drivers attempted to gain an understanding of how the Gen3 cars feel on the odd airport surface. To no surprise, the times tumbled in the opening minutes of the first session of the weekend, as São Paulo winner Mitch Evans and double Formula E Champion Jean-Éric Vergne became the first to enter the high 1:06s.

They were quickly joined by several other drivers, with Dan Ticktum having been fastest after the opening ten minutes, with the Briton having set a 1:06.730. Not too long after Ticktum set his time, a brief yellow flag was flown after Mortara suffered from what appeared to be a technical problem at Turn Four, with the Swiss driver having gone straight into a barrier, despite having been trying to brake. The Maserati MSG Racing driver broke his front wing in the process; however, he was able to return to the pits.

As the first session of the Berlin weekend moved into its second half, it was Sébastian Buemi who sat at the top of the leaderboard, on a solid 1:06.135. His time initially put him three-tenths ahead of both Avalanche Andretti Formula E drivers, with Dennis having been narrowly ahead of André Lotterer at the German’s home event. Dennis soon moved to the front as the session entered its final ten minutes, with the championship contender having become the first to enter the 1:05s, after setting a 1:05.888.

Dennis was closely followed instantly by another driver celebrating their home E-Prix this weekend, Maximilian Günther, who went 0.003s slower than the Andretti driver. Dennis remained at the top from Günther as the session entered its final five minutes; however, several drivers began to push much harder. Evans jumped to third but still found himself over a tenth behind Dennis, whilst 1.7 seconds separated the entire field. Reigning World Champion Vandoorne replaced Evans in third as the session entered its final minute, in what was a solid effort by the Belgian.

Sam Bird then demoted Evans down a further place, after the São Paulo podium finisher moved into fourth. Just 0.028s separated second to fifth as the chequered flag was flown, as a few drivers attempted one final lap. One of those drivers was Mortara, who after recovering from his early issues, managed to go third fastest right at the end of the session, putting him exactly a tenth of a second behind Dennis.

It was Vandoorne, though, who ended the opening session on top, with the Belgian having gone quickest with a 1:05.803. Vandoorne was the penultimate driver to take the flag, with him having done well to top the session from Dennis, Guenther, Vergne who set a good lap right at the end, and Mortara who rounded off the top five. Championship leader Pascal Wehrlein had a slow start to the weekend after ending FP1 in seventeenth, meaning he has work to do in Free Practice Two on Saturday morning.

1 1 Stoffel Vandoorne BEL DS Penske 1:05.803
2 27 Jake Dennis GBR Avalanche Andretti Formula E +0.085
3 7 Maximilian Günther DEU Maserati MSG Racing +0.088
4 25 Jean-Éric Vergne FRA DS Penske +0.152
5 48 Edoardo Mortara CHE Maserati MSG Racing +0.185
6 10 Sam Bird GBR Jaguar TCS Racing +0.211
7 9 Mitch Evans NZL Jaguar TCS Racing +0.222
8 13 António Félix da Costa POR TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team +0.260
9 36 André Lotterer DEU Avalanche Andretti Formula E +0.298
10 58 René Rast DEU NEOM McLaren Formula E Team +0.312
11 16 Sébastian Buemi CHE Envision Racing +0.332
12 33 Dan Ticktum GBR NIO 333 Racing +0.444
13 3 Sérgio Sette Câmara BRZ NIO 333 Racing +0.504
14 11 Lucas di Grassi BRZ Mahindra Racing +0.618
15 5 Jake Hughes GBR NEOM McLaren Formula E Team +0.668
16 4 Robin Frijns NED ABT CUPRA Formula E Team +0.691
17 94 Pascal Wehrlein DEU TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team +0.721
18 23 Sacha Fenestraz FRA Nissan Formula E Team +0.769
19 51 Nico Müller CHE ABT CUPRA Formula E Team +0.786
20 37 Nick Cassidy NZL Envision Racing +0.941
21 8 Oliver Rowland GBR Mahindra Racing +1.086
22 17 Norman Nato FRA Nissan Formula E Team +1.355