BMW i Andretti Formula E 2019-2020 Season Summary and Berlin ePrix Report — Part I

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For Races V and VI, a new Berlin-Tempelhof track configuration was used — the first six turns are the same as in the classic counter-clockwise circuit, but the straight coming out of Turn 6 goes farther before developing into the Turn 7 through 14 complex, then rejoins the original circuit with its last two hairpins.

Unfortunately, Race V was another dull affair for the BMW Andretti team. But it was a mildly intriguing race overall simply due to the fact that all four of da Costa, Sebastien Buemi, Lucas di Grassi, and Vergne were unable to set lap times in the group stage of qualifying after leaving their laps to the last second and getting burned by the clock.

They would all start from the back of the grid, but things weren’t much better for Guenther and Sims, who would only start a few spots up ahead in 13th and 15th respectively. Guenther made a poor start, dropping a few spots after the completion of the first lap, then was rear-ended in Turn 10 by the charging di Grassi, picking up a puncture and then retiring with damage. Sims had a relatively uneventful race in the midfield, eventually finishing 11th, just outside of the points.

Could BMW Andretti salvage anything in the last race of the season? The team’s and drivers’ championship standings kept dropping as the poor results filed in. Ultimately, this race would be a huge disappointment as well, especially for Sims. Sims started in 15th, three spots ahead of Guenther (who was in Group 1 qualifying), but absolutely could not get any forward momentum going.

After a slick start saw him rise to 12th, Sims’s progress stagnated and he was passed by Guenther and other cars around him as he languished to a mediocre 13th place in the race. Guenther, on the other hand, drove a handy race and utilized some well-timed Attack Mode ventures to carve his way up the field. He was running in 8th place and about to take 7th place from Robin Frijns with mere minutes left to go in the race when the Dutchman understeered clumsily at the Turn 15 hairpin, driving Guenther into the wall.

That pushed Guenther down to 12th, where he would finish, and forced Frijns into retirement with a puncture. Another goose egg for the BMW Andretti team, which saw their constructors’ championship standing plummet to fifth to end the season.


So what exactly went wrong in Berlin? Well, it’s difficult to say. Other teams this season have had similar ups and downs during the season — the problem was that the DS Techeetah team only kept getting stronger and stronger all the while. As an example, the Envision Virgin team looked absolutely imperious in the first two rounds in Diriyah, with Sam Bird dominating the first race and showing very strong pace in the second race before retiring from a collision.

But after that, the team’s pace went away and Bird could often be found in the second half of the qualifying timesheets. Similarly, the Panasonic Jaguar team were unbelievably strong in qualifying in Santiago, absolutely blitzed the field in Mexico City, and demonstrated amazing race pace coming from the back of the grid at Marrakesh.

But they also struggled at Berlin, with Mitch Evans struggling to score points in a car that had battled for victories and should have been a championship contender. On the other hand, the Nissan e.dams team had a pedestrian start to the season before their package really woke up in Berlin, culminating in Oliver Rowland’s first career win and a rise to second in the constructors’ championship. And in the meantime, we have the DS Techeetah team, who were strong in every single race of the season.

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