Maximilian Günther (BMW i Andretti Motorsport) locked up his maiden win at the Santiago E-Prix, passing Antonio Felix Da Costa (Techeetah) on the last lap and becoming the youngest winner (22) in the history of the Formula E.
Poleman Mitch Evans (Panasonic Jaguar Racing) was third to make it to the podium in the third race of the season. On his victory, Günther said: “This is a dream come true. I am incredibly happy to take the first win of my Formula E career here in Santiago.” He added: “Second place in qualifying was superb. Having not made a great start on the dirty side of the track, which cost me a position, we used Attack Mode very cleverly to allow me to take the lead.”
Unbelievable last lap drama!
— ABB Formula E (@FIAFormulaE) January 18, 2020
Like last year, the scorching heat of the Chilean capital proved to test battery temperature management to the fullest. Teams had to prevent battery overheating in fierce all-electric race conditions with air temperatures of 34 degrees Celsius (93 degrees Fahrenheit) and track temperature even higher than that. At a battery temperature of 54 degrees Celsius the car can no longer fully recuperate. At 72 degrees Celsius, the Gen2 car will shut down and no longer drive.
Once again Lucas Di Grassi (Audi Abt Schaeffler) and Jean-Eric Vergne (Techeetah) proved to be the best drivers in a competitive field. Di Grassi managed to rally from P22 at the start to P7 and secure points for Audi. The reigning champion Vergne raced from 11th to 3rd place, until a damaged tire ended his comeback. With 7 minutes left to go, Vergne had to pull his car into the pits and retire early.
Starting from Pole position, Evans led for the first half of the race, until Günther slipped past him with the help of Attack Mode and 24 minutes left on the clock. “From the start, we had software problems that we had to deal with,” Evans said. “I over-consumed energy because I wasn’t getting any information, it left me blind and getting no guidance, it was extremely difficult to manage the race today.”
With three minutes left Da Costa claimed the lead from Günther. “Towards the end of the race, we saw that the two Techeetah cars were gaining rapidly, but we always knew that we were controlling the situation well and managing the temperature of the batteries better,” said BMW team principal Roger Griffiths. Günther stayed calm under pressure and waited for his chance. “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.”
Seven drivers didn’t make it across the finish line, including both Porsches and the previous championship leader Alexander Sims (BMW). The ‘Silver Arrows’ once again performed well, scoring a fifth and sixth place with Nyck De Fries and Stoffel Vandoorne. The Belgium now leads the drivers’ championship with 38 points. Thanks to Günther clinching the win BMW ranks on top of all teams with 60 points, slightly ahead of Mercedes (56 points). In four weeks, Formula E will continue in Mexico-City.
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