Formula E Santiago: Guenther becomes youngest winner

BMW i Andretti Motorsport’s Max Guenther clinched a hard-earned victory in the scorching heat of Santiago after a fierce battle with DS Techeetah’s Antonio Felix da Costa.

Finishing in third was Poleman and Panasonic Jaguar Racing driver Mitch Evans. Here’s how it all unfolded.

Pulling away from Pole, Panasonic Jaguar Racing’s Mitch Evans led the way into the opening laps of the 2020 Antofagasta Minerals Santiago E-Prix followed by Mahindra Racing’s Pascal Wehrlein who passed BMW i Andretti Motorsport’s Max Guenther, now positioned in third.

Running clean for the opening laps, championship leader Sims came to a halt on track with a full-course yellow being called. After his car was retrieved, racing restarted with 37 minutes left on the clock.

Heading through Turn 10 and 11, Nissan e.dams’ Oliver Rowland made contact Envision Virgin Racing’s Sam Bird, damaging his front wing which broke away from the car. At the same time, Bird spun, loosing precious places and dropping to 19th.

Picking up ATTACK MODE, Max Guenther advanced on Rokit Venturi Racing’s Edoardo Mortara, using the extra power to blast past the Venturi driver and move into third. With Mortara in fourth and his teammate Felipe Massa in fifth, the two Venturi cars trailed the podium sitters, biding their time.

Heading into Turn 10 together, Massa was forced wide by his teammate, hitting the wall and dropping to seventh. Taking advantage of the situation, reigning champion and DS Techeetah driver Jean-Eric Vergne slipped past into fifth.

With 25 minutes left on the clock, Evans maintained the lead with Guenther now in second, Wehrlein in third. Still in ATTACK MODE, Guenther went for the lead slipping past Evans on the approach to Turn 9.

Despite starting from the back of the grid, Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler’s Lucas di Grassi moved up into 12th, two places off his teammate Daniel Abt.

With 14 minutes of the race left, Wehrlein slowed allowing Vergne to pass into third as well as his teammate Antonio Felix da Costa who now sat behind him in fourth.

With the two DS Techeetah drivers in third and fourth, reigning champion Vergne’s front left tyre started rubbing on the wing, leaving a trail of smoke behind him. Regardless, Vergne continued – now in sixth – before the wing broke off. With just seven minutes to go, Vergne pulled into the pits with his damaged car leaving his teammate battling on track for the top step of the podium.

Making a break for second, Da Costa passed Poleman Evans on the long Turn 8, now hunting Guenther for the win.

Holding out, Guenther maintained the lead with less than three minutes left on the clock. With both cars coming into Turn 10 together, Da Costa forced the BMW driver wide, passing on the inside and into first.

With less than a minute left, Guenther was back on the attack as Da Costa led the way. Both with the same level of energy, Guenther stormed past Da Costa going into Turn 9, regaining his hard-earned lead. Once around 10 and 11, the BMW driver clinched the win with Da Costa in second and Evans in third.


Formula E attracting oil giants to the fold

Oil giants familiar to fans of fossil-fuelled Formula 1 are finding a new focus for their energies in the all-electric world of Formula E.

Shell, decades-long sponsors of F1 glamour team Ferrari, are partnering the Nissan and Mahindra Formula E outfits while branding for French giant Total features on the cars of champions DS Techeetah.

They will be racing again in Saturday’s ePrix in the Chilean capital Santiago.

“Most people looking at a Formula E car or indeed an electric road vehicle would think there´s no content from a company like ours,” Richard Tucker, General Manager of Shell Lubricants Technology, told Reuters.

“But there are still lubricants and coolants involved in that technology, and we want to be pioneering in that space.”

Formula E, a city-based series now in its sixth season and soon to acquire FIA world championship status, has become the series of choice for car manufacturers looking to promote electric vehicles and test the technology.

Germany’s big four of Porsche, Mercedes, BMW and Audi are competing alongside the likes of Jaguar, Nissan, Citroen’s DS brand, China’s Nio and Monaco-based Venturi.

“Electrification is the big topic within the whole auto industry so to be a credible part of that journey you want to be involved in many different aspects of it,” said Tucker.

For a company like Shell, keen to highlight an increasing investment in wind power, brand association is only a part of the equation.

Total also emphasises its involvement in solar energy on the Techeetah website.

Formula E, which started its season with races in the world’s biggest oil producer Saudi Arabia, presents itself as a vehicle for change as well as an important test laboratory for road car technology.

Tucker emphasised the interest for Shell in developing ‘E fluids’ from natural gas turned into liquid at the company’s plant in Qatar.

“If you charge your phone, you know that it gets a little bit warm. If you´re doing that on a big scale, particularly if you want to do it quickly for your car…, then you´ve got to take that heat away from the batteries,” said Tucker.

“There’s lots of variations on the theme but the one that we believe is a winner for the future is so-called immersion cooling, because the batteries are in direct contact with the liquid that is the heat-transfer medium for you.

“So we are developing a range of fluids for immersion or direct cooling.”

The electric motors require greases while lubricants need to show advanced anti-foaming properties because the gearbox is spinning so fast.

Formula E founder Alejandro Agag, who now spends most of his time on a planned new Extreme E series, said the oil companies were welcome.

“It is a big change. Those companies also have the key to make a big change because it´s not people who are in their home watching TV that are going to make the change,” he told Reuters recently.