Edoardo Mortara was the star of Formula E‘s double-header in Berlin as he took a win and a second place to put himself back into championship contention at the halfway mark of the season.
Mortara trailed championship leader Stoffel Vandoorne by 32 points going into the weekend, but is now just 12 points behind the Mercedes driver after two exceptional performances.
It was a mixed weekend for the other title protagonists, as Vandoorne and Mortara took double podiums and a huge haul of points.
Efficiency is the name of the game
So often in Formula E, the leading drivers react to each other with their use of attack mode but Mortara drove his own race on Saturday and wanted to dominate his way to victory.
As the likes of Jean-Eric Vergne, Andre Lotterer, Antonio Felix da Costa, Alexander Sims and Vandoorne battled each other, Mortara was able to drive cleanly and efficiently.
It was a classy drive and one that defined the cool, calm and collected Mortara. Even when Vergne dived the inside of him with a few laps to go, Mortara had the nerve to let the Techeetah driver slide by and duck back underneath to retake the lead and scamper away.
“We had a great car in qualifying and the race,” said Mortara. “I had a plan at the beginning of the race and nothing went to plan, that’s the thing about Formula E.
“You have to adapt and the others are trying to destabilise you but it all worked out very well for us.”
Having taken his first ever Formula E pole position on Saturday, Mortara repeated his qualifying result for race two. This time, he was beaten into Turn 1 by Nyck de Vries and couldn’t do anything to stop the defending champion from winning.
That said, 49 out of a possible 58 points is a magnificent weekend and more performances like that will see Mortara at the top of the championship standings very soon.
Mercedes powertrain sets the benchmark
We saw a glimpse of the strength of the Mercedes powertrain at the season-opening Diriyah E-Prix, but that incredible form hasn’t been seen since until Berlin at the weekend.
Mercedes and Venturi use the Mercedes powertrain and they locked out the top four places in Sunday’s race which was won by De Vries.
The field spread was huge, by Formula E standards, with fifth-placed Robin Frijns finishing 13 seconds behind De Vries to underline the pace advantage Mercedes had.
“We were dominant in Saudi Arabia then went through a bit of a slump and now we’re back,” said championship leader Vandoorne. “But it’s not straightforward. There’s a lot of hard work going into this.
“Berlin is one of those circuits which we have historically been good at but you just don’t know what’s going to happen because of the conditions. I’m just pleased we got through the weekend with two podiums.”
Having the best powertrain makes everything so much easier because you give yourself more options in terms of strategy and you can be on the offensive in the race.
Mercedes and Venturi should also be commended for the way they set their cars up too, it wasn’t entirely down to the powertrain.
Finding the sweet spot for the old surface at the Berlin Tempelhof Airport is very tricky, especially with the sunlight which causes the track temperature to go sky-high.
It seems Mercedes and Venturi have an edge over everyone to be versatile on all types of tracks so Vandoorne is in an excellent position, along with Mortara, going into the Jakarta E-Prix.
De Vries bounces back
It’s been a relatively tough season for De Vries who has struggled this season against a flying Vandoorne, particularly in the races.
After winning the first E-Prix of the season, De Vries had finished just one race in the top nine prior to Sunday and he was desperate to end his run of poor form.
He started from third and launched it up the inside of Mortara at Turn 1, taking the Swiss driver by surprise, and the win never looked in doubt from there as he blitzed the field.
“I hate losing,” De Vries said after his second victory of the season. “It eats me when I lose, especially when you know there is nothing wrong.
“We just struggled so much in the last four races to execute, I don’t think there was anything fundamentally wrong.
“Everything was there and it just didn’t really work out. It starts to build up and as other people score points you lose momentum.
“I just felt like it was time for us to come back and turn it around so to do it now was very important.”
De Vries is still an outsider in the championship, as he is 56 points behind teammate Vandoorne, but there is still a long way to go so we shouldn’t completely rule out the reigning champion yet.
Very clean racing
Usually, there is lots of contact and incidents in your average Formula E race, but the double-header in Berlin saw lots of clean wheel to wheel action throughout the field.
There were also no safety cars or full course yellows which underlined the clean nature of the weekend which was nice to see given how chaotic Formula E can be.
It probably won’t remain that way for the rest of the season as rivalries are renewed and emerge, but the big question is whether anyone can catch Mercedes and Venturi because they have become the teams to beat.