Santiago, FE: Günther secures maiden Formula E victory with last lap overtake
BMW i Andretti Motorsport move to top of team standings
BMW i Andretti Motorsport’s Maximilian Günther clinched a hard-earned victory in the scorching heat of Santiago after a fierce battle with DS Techeetah’s Antonio Felix da Costa. Finishing third was Panasonic Jaguar Racing driver Mitch Evans.
Starting from pole position, Evans led the way into the opening laps of the 2020 Santiago E-Prix followed by Mahindra Racing’s Pascal Wehrlein who passed Günther, now positioned in third.
Championship leader Alexander Sims, Günther’s team mate at BMW i Andretti Motorsport, came to a halt on track causing a full-course yellow period. His car was retrieved quickly and racing restarted with 37 minutes left on the clock.
Heading through turn 10 and 11, Nissan e.dams’ Oliver Rowland made contact with Envision Virgin Racing’s driver Sam Bird, damaging his front wing which broke away from the car. As a result Bird spun, loosing precious places and dropping to 19th. Rowland subsequently received a drive through penalty for causing the collision.
Picking up attack mode, Günther advanced on Rokit Venturi Racing driver Edoardo Mortara, using the extra power to blast past the Venturi driver and move into third. With Mortara in fourth and his teammate Felipe Massa in fifth, the two Venturi cars trailed the podium sitters, biding their time.
Heading into turn 10 together, Massa was forced wide by his teammate, hitting the wall and dropping to seventh. Taking advantage of the situation, reigning champion and DS Techeetah driver Jean-Eric Vergne slipped past into fifth.
With 25 minutes left on the clock, Evans maintained the lead with Günther now in second, Wehrlein in third. Still in attack mode, Günther went for the lead slipping past Evans on the approach to turn 9.
Ten minutes later, Wehrlein slowed allowing Vergne to pass into third as well as his teammate da Costa. With the two DS Techeetah drivers in third and fourth, reigning champion Vergne’s front left tyre started rubbing on the wing, leaving a trail of smoke behind him. Regardless, Vergne continued - now in sixth - before the wing broke off. With just seven minutes to go, Vergne pulled into the pits with his damaged car leaving his teammate battling on track for the top step of the podium.
Making a break for second, da Costa passed Evans on the long turn 8, now hunting Günther for the win. Holding out, Günther maintained the lead with less than three minutes left on the clock. With both cars coming into turn 10 together, da Costa forced the BMW driver wide, passing on the inside and into first.
Entering the last lap Günther was back on the attack as da Costa led the way. Both with a similar level of energy, Günther stormed past da Costa going into turn 9, regaining his hard-earned lead. Once around turn 10 and 11, the BMW driver clinched the win with da Costa in second and Evans in third.
A time penalty left Nyck de Vries of Mercedes-Benz EQ Formula E Team classified in fifth position, while Wehrlein gained twelve points for fourth place. De Vries team mate Stoffel Vandoorne finished sixth, with Audi’s Lucas di Grassi taking seventh having started 22nd after his qualifying issues.
James Calado of Panasonic Jaguar Racing was eighth ahead of Massa, with Bird completing the top ten.
After another searing showdown in Santiago, Formula E now heads to Mexico City and the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez for round four of the 2019/20 ABB FIA Formula E Championship on 15 February.
Maximilian Günther (BMW i Andretti Motorsport)
“Today is a dream come true. For all of us it was about managing the race in hot conditions and it was a straight fight for the win. Having not made a great start on the dirty side of the track, which cost me a position, we used the attack modes very cleverly. That allowed me to take the lead. In that heat, it was also important to keep an eye on the temperature of the batteries. We did that really well. On the final lap, Antonio had to coast a little earlier than me on the straight. I thought to myself ‘now or never’ and went for the overtake. Fortunately, it came off.”
Antonio Felix da Costa (DS TECHEETAH)
“So much has happened during the race. It’s a bit of an awkward situation losing the win to BMW i Andretti but congratulations to Max. A lot of positives to take away but I lost out on the start as I got a massive hit from Sims and my steering was never straight for the rest of the race. However, we have speed in the car and that made all the difference. I lost a lot of time behind JEV and fed some of the wrong information on temperatures and it all came down to the last lap and these guys just managed it better.
Mitch Evans (Panasonic Jaguar Racing)
“The execution of the race sort of slipped from our hands, it was a bit of a strange one. Looking at the positives we’ve got some good points and a podium after having a bad start of the season, so I am happy with that. Starting from P1 I wanted to walk away with a win, but we still have work to do.”
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