Plenty of contacts and overtakes in Chile

The third round of the season of ABB FIA Formula E Championship 2019/20 was run in Santiago in Chile.

It had been nearly two months since the opening race was run in Saudi Arabia, so it was like a new start for all the drivers.

Panasonic Jaguar Racing driver Mitch Evans had taken Pole Position, ahead of BMW in Andretti Motorsport driver Maximilian Günther, while Pascal Wehrlein from Mahindra Racing qualified in P3. With ROKiT Venturi Racing driver Felipe Massa, Oliver Turvey in NIO 333, Sebastien Buemi in Nissan e.dams, we had to look all the way down to P7 before there was a second driver from a team, in the shape of Edoardo Mortara from ROKiT Venturi Racing.

Championship leader Alexander Sims in BMW in Andretti Motorsport had to start the race from the fifteenth position, while his closest competitor Stoffel Vandoorne in Mercedes-Benz EQ qualified in P9. Sam Bird in Envision Virgin Racing was in P16. There would be changes in the championship if these drivers finished in the same positions as to where they started.

Ma Qing Hua in NIO 333 couldn’t participate in the qualifying after wrecking the car in the practice, while Oliver Rowland in Nissan e.dams had to change his gearbox after the quali. So the two of them would start the race from the last row.

Mitch Evans
Photo: ABB FIA Formula E

Evans took the start, while Wehrlein came up to the second place by pushing past his fellow countryman Günther. Massa fell back from P4 to P6.

There was a commotion between some of the drivers down the field when they drove around one of the hairpins for the first time. Neel Jani took the shortest end of the straw and had to pit, due to some damage on his front wing. Alexander Sims was also involved, but it wasn’t so bad that he couldn’t continue.

Andre Lotterer and Alexander Sims got a little touchy with each other. First, Lotterer poked Sims a bit and went past, and the Englishman did a similar manoeuvre on the German two corners later.

Antonio Felix da Costa had been involved in something as he lost half of his diffusor.

Both Sims and Lotterer had damage on their cars so they both had to retire from the race. While Lotterer could drive back to the pits by himself, Sims stopped in the middle of the track, so that it required a Full Course Yellow in order to get his car removed. The stewards later announced that they would’ve looked into the two drivers’ behaviour, but since they both were out of the race, there was no reason to do it.

Andre Lotterer
Photo: ABB FIA Formula E

Oliver Rowland had also been in contact as his front wing flew in a spectacular way, in the middle of the straight. He had to pit as well to get a new front wing.

Sam Bird got turned around in one of the hairpins and fell back to P19.

The two Venturi drivers, Massa and Mortara, come to a fight with each other, but luckily it didn’t go worse than that.

But it didn’t stay that way. Mortara left no space for Massa, who then had to stop completely, and he got overtaken by both Jean-Eric Vergne and Antonio Felix da Costa.

Stoffel Vandoorne, Antonio Felix da Costa, Daniel Abt, Lucas Di Grassi and Nyck de Vries were the five drivers who got the most votes for Fan Boost in this race.

Massa went to attack Felix da Costa and managed to drive past before the Portuguese passed him again a few corners later. Massa lost another place when de Vries also got past.

Felipe Massa
Photo: ABB FIA Formula E

Halfway into the race, Günther had enough of being stuck behind Evans and took the lead. Evans tried to retaliate, but the German held on.

As always there was also Attack Mode, and even though people tried to use it to overtake, there were no big position changes in front of the field.

On the other hand, Di Grassi used the Fan Boost to come up to P12 – which surely wasn’t a position that the Brazilian would choose to be.

TAG Heuer Porsche had revived Lotterer’s car, even though he was so far behind the others. But it could give them some kilometres to test the car.

Massa wanted to go forward and did a desperate attempt to drive past de Vries from the outside, which almost sent him to the wall. Luckily, Massa managed to stop the car centimetres from the wall, but he’d lost so much time.

Even though Günther had taken the lead, he hadn’t really pulled away from Evans. There was under half a second between them, ten minutes after Günther’s overtake.

Vergne had slowly but surely worked himself up from P11, and fifteen minutes before the chequered flag, he snatched the third place from Wehrlein – even though Wehrlein had Attack Mode activated at that time! The defending champion was hungry for victory.

Stoffel Vandoorne
Photo: ABB FIA Formula E

Mortara fell back through the field, behind his teammate Massa again. In fact, Mortara dropped down like a stone and was quickly out of the top ten.

Despite the impressive progress Vergne hit the wall and damaged his front wing. It broke with ten minutes left of the race, sending him down the field with huge smoke from the car. The wheel arch fell off the car after a couple of laps, but the team chose to pit him, where he later retired.

There were some penalties to be handed out. Jerome D’Ambrosio, Nyck de Vries and Sebastien Buemi all got a five-second time penalty for breaking some technical rules under the race.

Antonio Felix da Costa was definitely not done with advancing as he fought himself past Mitch Evans, and then going to hunt down Günther. Felix da Costa had used less power than Günther, so the Portuguese could put maximum pressure on him.

Two minutes before the time run out, Felix da Costa did a very very late dive in the hairpin, pushed the German off the ideal line and got past. Surely it was something the stewards would look into.

However, three corners before the finish, Günther did a fantastic overtake on the outside of Felix da Costa – and thus the stewards didn’t need to do anything about the previous position change.

Maximilian Günther
Photo: ABB FIA Formula E

So Maximilian Günther won his first ABB FIA Formula E Championship race, ahead of Antonio Felix da Costa, while Nyck de Vries crossed the line in third place – but he got sent back to P5 due to his five-second time penalty. Instead, Mitch Evans took the last spot on the podium. Pascal Wehrlein finished in P4.

Daniel Abt got a Drive-through penalty after the race, for a collision with Felipe Massa. It sent him out of top ten, while Sam Bird got a couple of points: one for the inherited tenth place, and one point for being the driver in top ten who had the fastest lap.

Generally, it was a hard race, with a total of seven retirements.

Stoffel Vandoorne finished the race in P6, but it was enough to take the lead of the championship, ahead of Alexander Sims and Sam Bird, while Maximilian Günther had a big jump to fourth place.

BMW in Andretti Motorsport leads the team championship, in front of Mercedes-Benz EQ, while Envision Virgin Racing is still ahead of their driveline supplier, Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler.

The next round of ABB FIA Formula E Championship 2019/20 will be run on 15 February in Mexico City, again using some parts of the Formula 1 track.

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