It is desperate mode for Kiwi Formula E championship hopeful Mitch Evans as he could only muster ninth place in the third Berlin E-Prix while title protagonist Antonio Felix da Costa further extends his points advantage.
Evans benefited from a late turn in pace in the final stages of the 45-minute race having started from 19th in another frustrating qualifying session.
Meanwhile, Maximilian Guenther denied a hard-charging Robin Frijns victory in a frantic final lap to clinch his second win of the season and the third for BMW.
Initially, pole-sitter Jean-Eric Vergne looked to be the box seat for victory but again became a victim of mismanagement of energy consumption, allowing Envision Virgin’s Frijns to catch and overtake Vergne at Turn 1 in the final laps.
The Dutch pilot then reeled in Guenther throughout the final lap, offering audacious lunges for the lead at Turn 9 and again at Turn 10 but ultimately came up short on each occasion. That left Frijns, who started the race in fifth, to chase his rival home in second 0.128s shy at the line.
Vergne narrowly fended off a late challenge by his DS Techeetah teammate Da Costa who had battled back through the field after a disappointing qualifying session earlier in the day from ninth.
A five-car tussle for sixth over the final laps set up an enthralling finish but put an end to Stoffel Vandoorne’s race after the Mercedes driver picked up a puncture and suspension damage.
Behind Da Costa was Andre Lotterer, Oliver Rowland and Mahindra’s Jerome D’Ambrosio.
Lucas di Grassi and former championship hopeful Mitch Evans were eighth and ninth, while Alexander Sims completed the top 10 ahead of Sebastien Buemi.
Evans teammate James Calado had a more turbulent race after being spun by an unrestrained Sims just as Sergio Sette Camara suffered a drive train failure at the same corner.
Sette Camara then tagged an innocent Evans before being clashed into by Porsche’s Neel Jani, yielding the race’s one and only Safety Car period.
Evans can still realistically claim the championship despite being 78 points adrift of Da Costa with three races remaining granted the Kiwi can find a rapid change in fortunes in both qualifying and the race.
The Jaguar driver will need to score wins across all three of the final races as well as at least one pole position. A points finish by Da Costa tomorrow can ensure that he clinches a memorable title crown having decimated the field since the post season suspension restart.
Tomorrow’s race will also be the last held on the traditional anticlockwise configuration of the Berlin circuit before race officials construct an entirely new layout for the final two races of the year.
|Antonio Felix da Costa
|Lucas di Grassi
|Nyck de Vries
|Sergio Sette Camara