Wehrlein hat-trick sets up intriguing finale
Mahindra Racing’s Pascal Wehrlein became the first driver to take a hat-trick of victories in the ABB Formula E Race at Home Challenge to take the lead in the standings ahead of tomorrow’s Grand Final, which will be shown live on Eurosport 2 from 3.30pm BST.
Julius Baer Pole Position sitter Wehrlein never looked troubled from main rivals Stoffel Vandoorne of Mercedes-Benz EQ and BMW i Andretti Motorsport’s Maximilian Guenther, who both finished behind third-placed debutant Kelvin van der Linde in the Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler.
The Saturday Formula E race in New York City
Image credit: Eurosport
It means the 25-year-old will start Sunday’s race the favourite to be crowned winner of Formula E’s inaugural online racing competition by usurping previous standings leader Vandoorne.
But with double-points available in tomorrow’s final, things are still all to play with the gap at just seven points between first and second.
Vandoorne loses ground
Vandoorne finally ended his spell of being unable to convert qualifying dominance into race victories last weekend when he secured his first online victory in Round Six of the competition.
But for the first time this season it was his qualifying lap which let him down as he started in fifth but quick made a fantastic double overtake on the first lap to move up into third but hit the wall in the process to fall back one place – a position he was unable to improve on.
The Belgian had claimed Julius Baer Pole Position in four of the six races staged up to that point but had to wait until that sixth round to break his duck, which had also included a runner-up finish in Formula One’s online series.
A fourth-place finish in Round Seven means the Mercedes-Benz EQ driver will start seven points behind drivers’ standings leader Wehrlein in the final.
Rowland emerges as late contender
Nissan e.dams’ Oliver Rowland upset the odds again to finish runner-up and put his name in the hat for an unlikely chance to claim the competition title.
While Guenther, Wehrlein and Vandoorne had been the standout drivers in the early stages of the series, Rowland’s victory in Round Five shocked the punters and the Barnsley-born racer has only gone from strength to strength since.
While the race lacked the chaos seen in other rounds Rowland had enough time for a robust move on Van der Linde on one of the final corners to sneak into second place in the final seconds.
And his good performance means he could mathematically be joint winner with Wehrlein if he scores the maximum points and all his rivals finish pointless.
Max-imum efficiency needed for Guenther
There was further frustration for Guenther as he again fell back in the standings to limit his chances of claiming the title ahead of tomorrow’s final.
The 22-year-old won the opening two races of the competition to put himself in a fantastic position to win the title, however a fifth-place finish will leave the German lagging in third in the standings.
Although the title is still mathematically possible, Guenther will be left wondering how rivals Wehrlein and Vandoorne surpassed him after such a strong start in the competition.
Mueller puts pressure on in Challenge Grid Lucas Mueller’s victory in the Challenge Grid secured his second-placed starting position behind Kvin Siggy.
The lights-to-flag victory in the Mahindra Racing car was the German’s second race win in the online acing series and puts the pressure on heavy favourite Siggy heading into the last race. It also ecured a double victory for Mahindra on a good day for the Indian manufacturer.
Slovenian Siggy finished second in the race but had already guaranteed he will start on pole in the inale for the chance to drive the Gen2 Formula E car at a future race.
Joshua Rogers, Peyo Peev and Petar Brjlak complete the top five and will be the other likely ontenders, but Mueller’s win will undoubtedly send the strongest warning signs to Siggy ahead of the finale.
Round Eight of the ABB Formula E Race at Home Challenge in support of UNICEF will be broadcast live on Eurosport 2 on Sunday, June 7 at 3.30pm BST.