Young German racers Maximilian Guenther and Pascal Wehrlein look set to be the frontrunners once again as the Formula E Race at Home Challenge returns this weekend.
The ABB Formula E Race at Home Challenge in support of UNICEF - an eight-race esports competition featuring the teams and drivers from the ABB FIA Formula E Championship, as well as a selection of top gamers - returns this Saturday. The race will be shown live on Eurosport 2 from 3.30pm, and here we look at the major talking points ahead of round five.
After BMW i Andretti Motorsport’s Maximilian Guenther cruised to victory in the opening two races, there were fears the 22-year-old would leave his rivals in his wake and wrap-up the ABB Formula E Race at Home Challenge with some races to spare.
It has proven not to be, as fellow German driver Pascal Wehrlein (Mahindra Racing) has demonstrated his sim racing talents to take victory in rounds three and four. The 25-year-old overtook Julius Baer pole-sitter Edoardo Mortara (ROKiT Venturi Racing) after he crashed out from the lead in a chaotic race on the Hong Kong harbourfront.
Pascal Wehrlein takes another win in Formula E virtual racing series
Wehrlein now leads the standings with 71 points, followed by Guenther in second on 65 points. Mercedes-Benz EQ’s Stoffel Vandoorne continues to be the nearly man of the online racing series in third with 58 points, despite failing to win a race so far. The sim racing veteran will need a strong performance on Saturday to keep touch with the two young Germans.
Who will break the German streak?
Guenther, Wehrlein and Vandoorne have underlined their reputation as the three most talented sim drivers in the world, holding the top-three spots in the standings.
However, their apparent dominance has not gone unchallenged with flashes of brilliance shown by their rivals. Venturi’s Mortara produced a magnificent drive in qualifying to take pole position last Saturday, only being denied a shot at victory after mistiming turning into a chicane a few laps into the race.
Another who impressed last Saturday was Panasonic Jaguar Racing’s James Calado, taking third position in the race – his first podium in the competition – as the Briton shows improvement with each round. Robin Frijns (Envision Virgin Racing) has quietly kept pace with the leaders, scoring points on a consistent basis to take up fourth position in the leaderboard on 48 points.
Highlights: Wehrlein avoids huge crash on opening lap to win Round 3
Race at Home touches down at Tempelhof
As well as the impressive sim racing on show, the ABB Formula E Race at Home Challenge has reminded us of the incredible locations Formula E races in.
The ABB Formula E Championship races in the heart of the world’s most iconic city centres, with the flagship Hong Kong harbourfront and Monaco circuits already shown-off in the online racing series.
This week, the online race comes to Tempelhof, a now abandoned airport in the heart of Berlin that has been used as a location for Hollywood movies The Hunger Games and Bridge of Spies. Wehrlein and Guenther will be eager not to be unseated by one of his rivals in the nation’s capital.
Siggy providing stardust on Challenge Grid
Sim driver Kevin Siggy will be aiming to continue his accelerated momentum heading into Saturday’s race of the Challenge Grid.
The Slovenian lost out to German Lucas Mueller in last week’s race, but continues to hold a comfortable lead in the standings on 76 points, with Mueller second on 58 points and Bulgarian Peyo Peev in at third with 54 points.
A victory for Mueller or Peev on Saturday will cut Siggy’s lead in the standings as the sim racers battle it out for a chance to drive the real fully-electric Gen2 Formula E car at a future race weekend.
The points won by the drivers in the Challenge Grid will count towards where they start on the grid in the Grand Final on June 7, rather than traditional driver standings to determine the overall winner.
Mortara can't wait to get behind the wheel
ROKiT Venturi Racing driver Mortara has admitted that he can’t wait to get back behind the wheel in real life but is staying sharp through the ABB Formula E Race at Home Challenge, after making a splash last time out.
The Swiss-Italian driver had been struggling to get a foothold in the online competition, accruing just two points in the opening three races, but as the action returned to Hong Kong – a track that Mortara knows well after securing his team’s maiden Formula E victory on last season – the Venturi man secured a surprise Julius Baer pole position to mix up the standings in round four.
He was eventually surpassed by Wehrlein, who went on to win the race for the second-successive week, but Mortara recognised the positive impact the esports initiative is having during this period off the racetrack.
“Once or twice a day I am riding my bike or spending some time in the gym, and of course I am spending time every day on my simulator, so it is keeping me sharp and keeping my mind in motorsport,” he said. “As a driver I am happiest when I am behind the steering wheel, and at the moment its painful to wait so much. In the end, all the jobs that we have in motorsport are to entertain the fans. If we are not racing and we do not entertain, we lose our jobs.
“Every championship is working closely with governments to understand what is possible, but if the only way to go back to racing is to go through quarantine then I think that we are all willing to do it.”
Round five of the ABB Formula E Race at Home Challenge in support of UNICEF will be broadcast live on Eurosport 2 from 3.30pm BST this Saturday, May 23