After disappointing demotion from his first podium in Diriyah, Maximillian Gunther, the youngest driver on the grid, takes his first Formula E win in Santiago.
With many retirements from different places on the grid and overtakes happening left, right and centre, the Santiago E-Prix was a fantastic way to start the year. We saw our 3rd different winner for Season 6 and a change of Championship leadership.
As the lights turned green, Mitch Evans, who was on Pole Position, managed to keep the lead and even found himself pulling away as far as 1.2 seconds in front of the pack. As for the drivers behind him, Pascal Wehrlein managed to overtake Gunther to gain 2nd place. It all got a bit close at the hairpin as we saw cars almost collide into one another with a big scuffle but the driver who benefitted the most was Championship leader, Alexander Sims, who got himself up into 11th place. Sims’ fortune did not last long as after the scuffle, we found out he had damage on the front left.
Sims was not the only one with a spot of bad luck as Neel Jani was recorded as going into the pits after only 2 minutes into the race and, unfortunately, that is where he stayed. It was also reported that Robin Frijns had a puncture and he also made a visit to the pit lane remaining but, unlike Jani, Frijns did renter the race.
With 40 minutes and 30 seconds remaining, Brendon Hartley, Jerome D’Ambrosio and Frijns were the first three cars to use Attack Mode once activated. The race continued to take a bad turn as Andre Lotterer was seen in the pits with 39 minutes remaining which, ultimately, ruined his race. Sims had dropped all the way down to 21st and then suddenly, a Full Course Yellow was announced so that the stewards could retrieve his car as he stopped on track. As the FCY was called, Stoffel Vandoorne and Jean-Eric Vergne were seen tussling but neither cars were put under investigation.
The race was free to get going again 30 seconds later and we saw Nyck De Vries overtake Daniel Abt at the hairpin but, much like earlier on in the race, cars began bumping one another. It was reported that Abt and Oliver Rowland hit into each other which, in turn, caused Abt to knock into Sam Bird. We then saw Bird spinning and he dropped down the pack. Rowland was then seen to have tdamage and the next minute, part of his front wing was flying over the circuit. The other half had got stuck under his car which caused him to pit and became another victim of the race.
Moving away from of the doom and gloom, further up the pack, Edoardo Mortara overtook Oliver Turvey who had done a fantastic job in qualifying to start 5th. Turvey had made it up to 4th during the race but dropped back down after Mortara’s overtake. Mortara continued to climb further up the grid by stealing 3rd place from Gunther by using Attack Mode but 1 minute later Gunther managed to regain his place after Mortara locked up at turn 1. The Venturi driver then lost out to Felipe Massa who was in Attack Mode with just over half an hour to go. Mortara then decided to try and gain what he had lost by retaking Massa and while they were fighting, Vergne decided to attempt to overtake both which saw Massa very nearly in the wall and dropped down from 4th to 7th.
At 25 minutes remaining, Gunther also fought back to retake 2nd from Wehrlein and then realised what was possible and pushed hard to steal 1st position only 2 minutes later. Antonio Felix Da Costa was the first to use his Fanboost to try and take Mortara but the Venturi driver managed to continue his good job of keeping his position. Vergne then fancied a podium a place by trying to take Wehrlein and eventually gained 3rd place with 15 minutes remaining.
After Mortara had done a phenomenal job of keeping close to the top of the pack, we saw him drop down to 13th place and eventually had to enter the pits. Unfortunately, Mortara became another victim and did not finish the race. Someone else whose race took a turn for the worse was reigning champion, Vergne. With just over 10 minutes to go, we saw smoke billowing from the back of Vergne’s car. The DS Tcheetah driver then found himself in the wall and eventually lost part of his front wing. Vergne was running in 3rd but due to his issue, he came into the pits for what we thought was a nose change but Vergne decided to exit the car and become another retirement from the E-Prix.
Through all the retirements and bumps along the way, we had Gunther in 1st, Evans in 2nd and Da Costa in 3rd. With only 5 minutes remaining, Da Costa found some extra power and overtook Evans to take 2nd place. Da Costa then decided to push harder and steal 1st place from the BMW driver and, despite coming out on top from the overtake, the two drivers did bump into one another. The final lap was a nail biter with Da Costa and Gunther pushing each other to the limit but Gunther flew past the DS Tcheetah to take his first ever Formula E victory and his first points of the season.
This changed the Championship standing slightly with Vandoorne overtaking Sims for the top spot and is clear of him by just 3 points. Bird is 3rd still but now 10 points away from the lead and Gunther now finds himself in 4th place. BMW I Andretti Motorsport takes the top spot in the Team Championships from Mercedes-Benz EQ but only 4 points split the two. Who will be on top after the next race? Will we see another new winner? Check back with us at Overtake Motorsport to find out.
Due to unforeseen circumstances, we were unable to compose a Santiago Qualifying report and the E-Prix report is late being published but, rest assured, normal service will resume for the Mexico City E-Prix on Saturday 15th February 2020.
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Feature Image Credit: Andretti Autosport Twitter Page