Friday, July 19, 2024

Jakarta E-Prix: Maximilian Günther Storms to Victory, Cassidy Loses Championship Lead

Maximilian Günther destroyed the field to claim his first win of the 2022/23 ABB FIA Formula E World Championship, following a mesmeric performance at the eleventh round of the season in Jakarta. Rounding off the podium at the Jakarta E-Prix was Jake Dennis and Mitch Evans, whilst Pascal Wehrlein reclaimed the lead of the Drivers’ Championship after Nick Cassidy failed to score points.

Starting Grid

Günther claimed position for the second day in a row in the Indonesian capital, with the German having defeated Dennis in the Final in what was a replica of Saturday. Championship leader Cassidy had another nightmare, with the Kiwi having qualified tenth.

Günther and Dennis Hold Position

With Cassidy’s championship lead having been cut from twenty points to just two on Saturday, it was clear just how important the race on Sunday was, given that the season is rapidly approaching its close. There was drama even before the race had started though, as Sérgio Sette Câmara was wheeled off the grid and into the pits, due to a reported “intermittent electrical issue”. The Brazilian failed to start the race.

Astonishingly, it wasn’t just Sette Câmara suffering an issue, as Sam Bird was also wheeled off the grid moments before the start. With the duo having been set to start fourteenth and fifteenth, it left a huge gap on the grid.

After the pair were wheeled off the grid, it was finally time to get underway, as Günther looked to convert pole position into victory. As the lights went out, Günther and Dennis both made excellent starts and remained in first and second, whilst Evans also held on to third. The big mover on the opening lap was Sacha Fenestraz, who gained three places on the opening lap and climbed to fourth, from seventh on the grid.

Günther Fights Back, Cassidy Makes Progress

Lap Four and Günther became the first of the frontrunners to activate their Attack Mode, with the German having fallen to third as a result. Interestingly, Dennis activated his first one a lap later, but rejoined the racing line ahead of the Maserati MSG Racing driver. Second became first for Dennis on Lap Six, as Evans activated his first Attack Mode. At the back and debutant David Beckmann was forced to retire from the race, as a result of damage sustained following a collision with Lucas di Grassi.

Lap Nine and Evans pulled off a great move on Günther for second at the opening corner, whilst directly behind Edoardo Mortara successfully pulled off a late dive on Stoffel Vandoorne for fourth. Günther wasn’t prepared to give up easily though, as he reclaimed second lap later with an exceptional move through Turns Nine and Ten.

Jean-Éric Vergne‘s title chances took a huge turn for the worse on Lap Fourteen, as the Frenchman pitted for a new front wing. Elsewhere, Cassidy was on the move towards the front, with the Kiwi having risen from eleventh to eighth in the space of two laps. Back at the front and it was all change, as the leaders all activated their second Attack Mode.

Cassidy and Wehrlein Collide, Günther Breaks Away

Having lost the net race lead whilst taking his first Attack Mode, Günther reclaimed the net race lead whilst activating his second Attack Mode after he built a big enough gap to Dennis prior to activating it. Dennis seemingly made a tactical error taking his second Attack Mode before Günther, given that he lost track position. In the midfield and there was huge drama, as title rivals Cassidy and Saturday’s race winner Pascal Wehrlein made contact.

Cassidy came from far behind and tried to dive up the inside of Wehrlein; however, he was simply too far back and made contact with the German driver. Cassidy was forced to pit for a new front wing as a result, meaning he was certainly going to lose the lead of the Drivers’ Championship. Lap Twenty-three and huge gaps were starting to appear at the front, with Günther and Dennis having broken away at the front after Evans activated his second Attack Mode.

Likewise, Evans then had a comfortable advantage in third over Vandoorne. Günther was clearly on an absolute mission, as the German suddenly built a big advantage over Dennis, as he pushed for his fourth career Formula E victory. By Lap Twenty-Nine and Günther led Dennis by almost four-seconds, an advantage not seen since Dennis won at the season-opener in Mexico City.

Günther Claims Famous Win

Ten seconds behind Günther, Evans in third was coming under huge pressure from Vandoorne in fourth, with the Jaguar TCS Racing driver having been caught by those behind. The fight for third was where all the action was, as both Nissan Formula E Team drivers suddenly overtook Vandoorne, as did Wehrlein. Evans was defending for his life to retain third, given how much he needed the result for his title chances.

All of a sudden and it was the final lap of the race, with Günther and Dennis having still been a mile ahead of the field. The real fight was still for third, with Fenestraz having been all over Evans. Nobody though, could stop Günther from winning in unbelievable fashion, to cement what has been an astonishing weekend for the German. Dennis claimed third whilst Evans held on for third, with Fenestraz in fourth, Norman Nato in fifth and Wehrlein in sixth.

Günther has been stunning this weekend in Jakarta, with the German having topped every single session, with the exception of Saturday’s race. Günther’s win was a huge moment for Maserati, with the victory having been their first in single-seater racing since Juan Manuel Fangio in 1957.

Günther’s win and Cassidy’s woes saw Wehrlein return to the top of the championship, with Cassidy having fallen to third. Just six points now separate Wehrlein in first and Cassidy in third, with Evans being twenty-five points behind in fourth. In the Constructors’ Championship and the TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team extended their lead, as a result of Envision Racing failing to score a point.

After a weekend full of action, yet remarkably no Safety Cars, Formula E now takes a three-week break before returning for round twelve of this brilliant season, with the inaugural Portland E-Prix.

Full Results to Follow…