Guenther denies Da Costa with last-lap pass in Santiago

Formula E

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Max Guenther scored his first Formala E win after a thrilling scrap in Santiago with Antonio Felix da Costa in Santiago.

High temperatures in the Chilean capital made for an intense race in which many drivers struggled to save energy. Guenther’s last-lap pass on Da Costa secured a second consecutive win for the BMW Andretti team.

Pole sitter Mitch made a clean getaway at the start while Pascal Wehrlein moved up from third to second at the start at the expense of Guenther. The pair continued to battle, keeping both occupied for the first 10 minutes of the race, letting Evans steadily draw away.

High temperatures in Santiago meant that drivers were under pressure to use Attack Mode early, the higher power mode being an additional stress on battery and powertrain temperatures. When Formula E cars begin to overheat, drivers have no choice but to lift-and-coast. Despite slightly lower temperatures than last year’s race, the 35C heat meant energy management was always going to prove a significant factor here.

A brief Virtual Safety Car period was triggered when Guenther’s team mate, pre-race points leader Alexander Sims, stopped on the track. After the restart, driver tensions seemed to be running high. First Daniel Abt spun Sam Bird, sending him down the order, then a clash on the main straight destroyed Oliver Rowland’s front wing.

With just under half an hour to go, Venturi hit trouble. Both Felipe Massa and Edoardo Mortara looked to be moving up the order to challenge for a podium but the two collided at the hairpin, in an incident that ultimately led to Mortara retiring from the race.

With 23 minutes remaining, Guenther had one minute of his second Attack Mode activation left, having dispatched Wehrlein he hunted down Evans – and made a clean, decisive move for the lead with seconds of the higher power mode remaining.

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Maximilian Guenther, Mitch Evans, Formula E, Santiago, 2020
Guenther passed pole sitter Evans
Vergne had moved up to threatening for third place with eleven minutes remaining, when a gigantic plume of smoke started streaming from his from left tyre, right into the face of teammate Da Costa behind him. Although it lookied terminal, Vergne stayed out, seemingly trying to bash his front wing off on the walls of the track, refusing to pit and holding up his team mate until it became clear he was losing too much pace. He eventually retired.

Da Costa had a significant energy advantage on the cars ahead of him, crucial as systems hit critical temperatures and drivers are forced to turn down regeneration to save the battery. He was easily able to overtake Wehrlein for third, then hunted down Evans – seemingly in quite significant energy trouble – a lap later.

Da Costa made a robust pass round the hairpin with two and a half minutes remaining, taking the lead by nudging Guenther, who was unwilling to let go of the lead. With cars reaching critical temperatures both drivers were on less than 6% on the final two laps, with few regeneration opportunities remaining as they fought nose-to-tail.

Guenther stayed with the DS Techeetah car and on the final lap – while most drivers in the top 10 dipped under 1% on their energy levels – was able to cleanly pass a stricken Da Costa, before lifting and coasting to nurse his car home.

Stoffel Vandoorne’s sixth place finish, added to his two Diriyah podium finishes, means he leaves Chile leading the championship for Mercedes, while BMW Andretti narrowly lead the teams championship.

1. Max Guenther – BMW Andretti
2. Antonio Felix da Costa – DS Techeetah
3. Mitch Evans – Jaguar
4. Pascal Wehrlein – Mahindra
5. Nyck de Vries – Mercedes
6. Stoffel Vandoorne – Mercedes
7. Lucas di Grassi – Audi
8. James Calado – Jaguar
9. Felipe Massa – Venturi
10. Sam Bird – Virgin
11. Nico Mueller – Dragon
12. Oliver Turvey – Nio
13. Sebastien Buemi – Nissan EDams
14. Daniel Abt – Audi
15. Robin Frijns – Virgin
16. Ma Qinghua – Nio
17. Oliver Rowland – Nissan EDams
DNF Jerome D’Ambrosio – Mahindra
DNF Brendon Hartley – Dragon
DNF Jean-Eric Vergne – DS Techeetah
DNF Edoardo Mortara – Venturi
DNF Andre Lotterer – Porsche
DNF Alexander Sims – BMW Andretti
DNF Neel Jani – Porsche

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Author information

Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a motorsport and automotive journalist with a particular interest in hybrid systems, electrification, batteries and new fuel technologies....

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  • 13 comments on “Guenther denies Da Costa with last-lap pass in Santiago”

    1. Dutchguy (@justarandomdutchguy)
      18th January 2020, 20:44

      Very nice move by Günther, deserved win

    2. Great race, but you can say that every time about FE, its never boring!

    3. First FE race I’ve seen in a while. Most definitely not boring, though was surprised at the amount of contact and pretty crazy moves going on! Great move on the last lap by Günther, well deserved win!

    4. Great race today and a Gunther deserved the win for his move and defending. I’m also enjoying the fact that contact doesn’t mean you’re out which I wasn’t sure about at first but it does encourage racing.

    5. Both of Gunther’s moves for the lead were great and without contact. Should get even more credit for that given the way Da Costa got past him originally. Great drive, managed the pace and the heating brilliantly, and got the win he deserved.

    6. Steve Matchett, sending out a whole lotta love to Bob Varsha was real class; fun race, a way more TV friendly venue than a lot of the races, things are looking up.

    7. Will be watching highlights in evening, looks like the race was much more tolerable than opening rounds.

    8. Tried to watch on Fox Sports, but it was a total joke. No pre-race, missing many key passes, no interviews, no podium, commercials constantly. I don’t even care about the series now.

    9. GtisBetter (@)
      19th January 2020, 7:34

      This was quite exiciting. Wide tracks are always better. Just two things i didn’t like. Vergne who was allowed to stay out with damage. He basically drove till it broke. That can’t be safe. And the the way Da costa overtook Guenther. I know he left a gap, but Da Costa went in PSX gran turismo style. Just brake way to late, collide and take the place. Well done by Guenther on the clean pass for the win.

      1. @passingisoverrated

        Fully agree. Apparently it’s all fair game. The old-timers surely have developed some dirty racing tactics which help them to muscle their way through the field, and surprise the rookies.

        It’s funny, since in F1 exactly the opposite happened, where fresh drivers like Leclerc and Verstappen shook up the old guard with 50/50 moves and risky defences. But In F1 there is at least some collective idea of what fair racing is.

    10. First Formula E race i’ve watched in a while & there’s still far too much bumper cars for my liking. The hairpin especially was a total joke.

      the drivers eye camera was practically unwatchable. they hype it like its the coolest thing ever & that it’s a totally new thing there the 1st to be doing, but it isn’t & there not & it isn’t even anywhere near as good as when that same kind of in helmet drivers eye level angle was been used in indycar some years ago.

      1. +1.

        Like touring cars/banger racing in single seaters. I know it’s been said before, but the fan boost and attack zone are completely contrived. The whining noise (cars not complaints) and car park racing don’t help.

        I think I watched highlights of this race last year, but will give up now. Helmet cam made me feel nauseous.

        Regarding the “no pre-race” comment above, we had an hour of repetitive flannel on the BBC. Buemi’s “these are the best drivers in the World” comment reminded me of NASCAR (you don’t need to tell anyone if you’re the best, it’s obvious). I switch off at the checkered flag.

    11. Nyck de Vries got P3 on track yet not even mentioned.. Great review…

    Comments are closed.