The ABB Formula E Race at Home Challenge in support of UNICEF reached its conclusion on Sunday at the virtual Berlin Tempelhof track as Stoffel Vandoorne showed his class to claim the Driver Grid victory. Here are your main talking points from the finale of the online racing series...
Victory for Vandoorne
Mercedes-Benz EQ’s Vandoorne overturned a 14-point deficit to Pascal Wehrlein in the final race of the season to be crowned the Driver Grid Winner.
It has been an incredibly consistent season for Vandoorne all the way up to the final race in which he has secured the Julius Baer Pole Position in four of the eight races and never finished below fifth despite winning just one race win in the series.
And the Belgian, an experienced sim racer who also participated in Formula One’s online racing series, proved his class to finish second in the race and also ensure the Mercedes-Benz EQ also became Team Winners.
The 28-year-old’s performance was enough to snatch the title from his Wehrlein with a winning margin of 24 points and be declared Formula E’s first online champion.
Opening corner chaos ends Wehrlein’s hopes
As with many of the races in the competition, the first corner was once again decisive in deciding the outcome of the race at the Tempelhof Track in Berlin.
Mahindra Racing’s Wehrlein began the race in second place behind Oliver Rowland and would have claimed the title if he had held his position from there.
However, the German became involved in a pile-up on the second corner after being the victim of a multi-car concertina and was sent right back down the grid and forced to play catch-up – only able to climb up to ninth place and blow his title chances.
Having secured a hat-trick of race wins yesterday, the most of any driver in the competition, the 25-year-old will be gutted to not to follow through with victory.
Rowland ends his fine second-half
The surprise package in the second half of the ABB Formula E Race at Home Challenge was Nissan e.dams’ Rowland and the Barnsley-born talent proved it again by winning his second race of the competition after victory in Round Five.
The 27-year-old’s light-to-flag victory, after securing the Julius Baer Pole Position, means he will claim a podium spot in the final standings – in third place.
Rowland admitted his lack of simulator experience had caused his slow start to the competition but he would have been a good bet for a challenge if there had been a few more races in the series.
Guenther back to form but no title
If Rowland has been the success story in the second half of the championship, BMW i Andretti Motorsport’s Maximilian Guenther was the man for the first half.
It looked like things were going to be easy for the 22-year-old in online racing, winning not only the pre-season test but also the opening two races of the competition.
But as the series went on, and his rivals gained sim racing experience, the young German was unable to maintain his high standards – as well as suffering some rotten luck in early collisions much like Wehrlein here – and failed to win another race.
A third-place finish in the final race and a second podium of the weekend will have undoubtedly pleased Guenther but his final standing of fourth, outside the podium places, will leave him wondering what could have been.
Siggy Stardust secures Gen2 drive with win
Kevin Siggy secured the title in the Challenge Grid with victory on the final day. The Slovenian has been by far the most dominant sim racer on the grid and topped off his impressive performances with a lights-to-flag win at the Tempelhof track.
Lucas Mueller put Siggy under the most pressure on the day, starting in second and almost dramatically taking the lead in the third lap of the race when attempting an inside overtake.
But Siggy – representative of his performances in the tournament – held off Mueller’s challenge and never looked back to race to victory.The win means he secures the prize of being the sim racer who will drive the Gen2 Formula E car at a real-life race, the exact details of which are still to be confirmed.
Why we race
The competition was established to support UNICEF’s global coronavirus appeal and it did just that with Formula E revealing the series had raised £100,000 for the charity.
Hannah Brown, Chief Strategy & Business Development Officer at Formula E said: “The ABB Formula E Race at Home Challenge marks the start of Formula E’s partnership with UNICEF and we are delighted to have reached our £100,000 fundraising target.
“We have seen exciting racing and mutual appreciation between the two grids for the skills that both Formula E drivers and those from the world of simulator racing bring. We cannot wait to see Kevin Siggy, the winner of the Challenge Grid, behind the wheel of a Formula E car very soon. Many congratulations also go to real-life Formula E racer Stoffel Vandoorne.”