Gunther takes maiden Formula E victory in Santiago classic
Maximilian Gunther scores his first ePrix victory, taking the win in Santiago in a typically exciting race.
Denied a podium finish in Saudi Arabia for passing under safety car conditions, Gunther more than made up for his error by scoring a sensational victory in the Santiago ePrix.
Pascal Wehrlein (Mahindra Racing) made a perfect start to climb up a spot from third into second behind pole sitter Mitch Evans (Panasonic Jaguar Racing). For championship leader Alexander Sims (BMW i Andretti Motorsport) it was an entertaining and chaotic opening lap.
Having started in P16, Sims climbed to P11 by the end of lap one, but contact involving the majority of the midfield looked to briefly have given him a few problems. A brief fight and further contact with Andre Lotterer (TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team) ultimately put both drivers out of the race after just five laps.
An extremely brief full course yellow was needed to reverse Sims's car off the track, but almost immediately there was another accident characteristic of Formula E - Oliver Rowland (Nissan e.dams) spinning Sam Bird (Envision Virgin Racing) but severely damaging his own front wing. Rowland would later pit to replace the damaged part.
At the front, Maximilian Gunther (BMW i Andretti Motorsport) had used his Attack Mode perfectly, using the system to pass Wehrlein. With just one minute of Attack Mode remaining, Gunther got aggressive with leader Evans.
Having set the move up in the early part of the lap, the extra power at his disposal gave Evans no hope of defending his position as Gunther sailed around the outside of turn-eight with ease.
Battling in the points positions, the two Venturi cars of Edoardo Mortara and Felipe Massa were busily destroying their teams race. Both using Attack Mode at different times but following each other around, Mortara made a bold lunge on Massa.
The move didn't go well and put Massa in the wall. The Brazilian was able to continue but the red mist had descended and errors throughout the rest of the race saw Massa plummet down the order.
With 13-minutes remaining, Jean-Eric Vergne (DS Techeetah) became the latest driver to pass a clearly struggling Wehrlein. Having climbed eight-places from his grid slot, damage to Vergne's front wing finally appeared to be costing the Frenchman.
Continuing for two-laps while the carbon fibre wheel-arch was rubbing against the front-left tyre, Vergne pitted and retired after the wing flew off in the middle of the track.
As one Techeetah car retired, the other took the fight to Gunther. Antonio Felix da Costa had considerable late-race pace and was lapping over a second a lap faster than Gunther and with three minutes remaining on the clock, it seemed to be more a matter of if and not when the move would be made.
When it did come, it was far from clean - Da Costa locking both fronts into the turn-10 hairpin and bumping along the side of the BMW.
Gunther had the last laugh however. Da Costa was struggling with battery temperatures from having powered through the order, and was unable to pull away at the front.
On the last lap, Gunther surged back past and took the win from the Techeetah, scoring his first victory in Formula E.
A sixth place finish for Stoffel Vandoorne sees the Mercedes driver climb to the top of the points standings while Sims drops to second. Such is the closeness of the championship however, that Sam Bird remains inside the top three despite a non-points finish.
Santiago ePriex Results 1 Maximilian Gunther BMW i Andretti Motorsport 40 Laps
2 Antonio Felix da Costa DS Techeetah +2.067
3 Mitch Evans Panasonic Jaguar Racing +5.119
4 Pascal Wehrlein Mahindra Racing +7.050
5 Nyck de Vries Mercedes-Benz EQ Formula E Team +9.883
6 Stoffel Vandoorne Mercedes-Benz EQ Formula E Team +11.237
7 Lucas di Grassi Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler Formula E Team +14.437
8 James Calado Panasonic Jaguar Racing +18.255
9 Felipe Massa ROKiT Venturi Racing +20.430
10 Sam Bird Envision Virgin Racing +21.780
11 Nico Muller GEOX Dragon +23.786
12 Oliver Turvey NIO 333 FE Team +27.778
13 Sebastian Buemi Nissan e.dams +43.257
14 Daniel Abt Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler Formula E Team +47.198
15 Robin Frijns Envision Virgin Racing +1 Lap
16 Ma Qinghua NIO 333 FE Team +1 Lap
17 Oliver Rowland Nissan e.dams +4 Laps
18 Jerome d’Ambrosio Mahindra Racing NC
19 Brendon Hartley GEOX Dragon NC
20 Jean-Eric Vergne DS Techeetah NC
21 Edoardo Mortara ROKiT Venturi Racing NC
DNF Andre Lotterer TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team NC
DNF Alexander Sims BMW i Andretti Motorsport NC
DNF Neel Jani TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team NC
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