Rowland takes first Race At Home Challenge win for Nissan e.Dams in Berlin

Round 5 of the ABB Formula E Race At Home Challenge took us to Tempelhof Airport in Berlin, a recently-added circuit to the game.

Last time out in Hong Kong, Mahindra Racing’s Pascal Wehrlein sought a second consecutive victory after making most of the chaos and battling behind to bring in the win.

Heading into the weekend, he led the championship by 6 points ahead of Maximilian Gunther of the BMW i Andretti Motorsport team, who has also claimed 2 consecutive wins.

Fellow Race At Home Challenge title contender Stoffel Vandoorne (Mercedes-Benz EQ) claimed another podium finish in Hong Kong. Max Gunther found himself well out of the points threshold primarily due to contact with the wall at the turn-three chicane.

The debut of the Tempelhof Airport Circuit in Berlin on the rFactor 2 game, as part of a new update released a day prior to the race. Since 2015, Tempelhof has brought action to the ABB FIA Formula E Championship in every year (except its absence in 2016) as it played host to the Berlin E-Prix.

A reminder of the basic details for the Race At Home Challenge (Drivers’ Race):

  • In-game damage set to 80%
  • The full 24-car-grid of real-life Formula E drivers.
  • Race Royale/Elimination-Style – 12 drivers are left to get to the checkered flag
  • Championship points (awarded like in the real championship – top 10 awarded points & one point offered for fastest lap in the race and one for pole position during qualifying)

The Race At Home Challenge consists of two grids – one full of sim-racers/professional racing drivers and the other is the full FE grid.

After a free practice session (off-camera/broadcast), the drivers in their respective championship positions are organised into groups for Group Qualifying; they will have one flying lap each to fight for pole position.

The sim-racer/pro-driver grid have their Qualifying and a 15 lap race sessions before the FE drivers do.

Stoffel Vandoorne of Mercedes-Benz EQ took his third pole position of this virtual season, leading +0.257 over Daniel Abt (Audi ABT Sport Schaeffler) and championship leader Pascal Wehrlein. Stoffel set the pace and looked comfortable as he also topped the practice session.

Image Credit: © ABB Formula E

As we went green in Berlin, Stoffel had a clean getaway from the front. Abt in P2 struggled as he immediately went to defend the inside line from Wehrlein.

A handful of drivers faced contact with each other at the first corner, such as Vandoorne’s teammate Nyck de Vries against a ROKiT Venturi. The reigning F2 champion has found esports a challenge and faced no further luck to sit in the elimination threshold- he was disqualified later for spinning NIO 333’s Oliver Turvey.

Vandoorne and Abt battled hard – Image Credit: © ABB Formula E.

Abt fought with Vandoorne putting across a variety of aggressive and defensive moves, rubbing wheel-to-wheel at the least. Eventually, Abt found his way past but a series of small errors combined with Stoffel’s ability to put in fast laps out of the car meant that they battled closely.

A few laps in, a dive by Abt into turn six put Vandoorne out of two positions as Oliver Rowland of Nissan e.Dams caught second position.

Behind the leading group, a tightly-packed field were racing wheel-to-wheel.

Gunther found himself in conflict with Wehrlein at the hairpin of turn-nine. Their contact ended so that Gunther was spun around and faced elimination later in the race, scoring no points.

ROKiT Venturi Racing’s Eduardo Mortara found himself battling behind Pascal Wehrlein for P4 right to the end of the race.

Onboard Mortara’s ROKiT Venturi – Image Credit: © ABB Formula E.

Vandoorne closed the gap by setting quick laps but crossed the line 0.2 seconds behind Oliver Rowland.

The Briton said: “I knew that Stoffel was fast so I didn’t really want to fight him, so when they (Vandoorne and Abt) started fighting together, I just took the opportunity when it came!”

Nevertheless, Stoffel brought in a strong set of championship points to finish in P2 and claimed the fastest lap of the race.

Daniel Abt would have finished in third over three seconds behind the front two.

However, following a post-race investigation into allegations whether it really was Daniel at the wheel, it was concluded that someone else was at the wheel and that was considered cheating.

His best qualifying position in the series has been P9, and his best finish was P15 – not obtaining a points finish so far.

There were suspicions raised from fellow drivers, like Vandoorne stating his doubts in a post-race interview (and on his Twitch stream, even attempting to phone-call him) and others.

By comparing Abt’s qualifying and race IP Addresses and to observe the behaviour of his Twitch stream which had a microphone cover the face of the driver so the identity was not clear, it was concluded that Daniel Abt did not actually take part in the event.

He faced a disqualification from ‘his’ P3 finish, and paid a fine of €10,000 to be donated towards charity for his absence.

Wehrlein finished in fourth (on-track) but was promoted to P3. He still leads the championship ahead of Stoffel Vandoorne and Max Gunther (who crashed out earlier).

The track that will host the next round of the Race At Home Challenge will be announced during next week.

You can tune into the broadcasts on various twitch streams that sim racers and FE drivers are hosting (like Stoffel Vandoorne, Nyck De VriesJean Eric-Vergne and others).

You can also tune into the official ABB Formula E channels to watch the season of FE esports action on TwitchFacebook, and Youtube.

Formula E Race at Home Challenge – 2020 Calendar
Date Race Time (British Summer Time)
April 18 (Completed) Pre-Season Test Round 15:30 BST
April 2 (Completed) Round 1 15:30 BST
May 2 (Completed) Round 2 15:30 BST
May 9 (Completed) Round 3 15:30 BST
May 16 (Completed) Round 4 15:30 BST
May 23 (Completed) Round 5 15:30 BST
May 30 Round 6 15:30 BST
June 6 Round 7 15:30 BST
June 7 Round 8 – Grand Final 15:30 BST