Stoffel Vandoorne claimed the Formula E Race at Home Challenge Esports championship title after he was involved in a first-lap collision that spun pre-event points leader Pascal Wehrlein.
As the Mercedes and Mahindra driver tangled, it allowed Oliver Rowland to score victory around the virtual Berlin circuit in the double-points finale for the series that runs in partnership with Motorsport Games to raise money for the UNICEF coronavirus relief effort.
Rowland bagged pole at the Tempelhof Airport circuit, where the Nissan driver already earned a win in round five of the eight-race series, as second-starting Wehrlein pipped Vandoorne by just 0.003s.
Vandoorne made a solid launch, which forced Wehrlein to pull across the track to defend position into Turn 1 and the pair were fortunate to escape the late-braking Edoardo Mortrara, who crashed into Maximilian Guenther.
This allowed Rowland’s team-mate Sebastien Buemi into fourth, but on the approach to Turn 3 he too was clipped by Mortara and subsequently knocked into the back of Vandoorne.
That forced the Belgian into a slide, and he then hit into Wehrlein – who entered the race with a 14-point cushion – into a half-spin.
But Wehrlein’s chances of recovery were then dashed as a second tap punted him all the way around and he dropped out of the title lead and down to 21st place.
The drama for second place permitted Rowland to extract a lofty 2.6s lead over Vandoorne at the end of the first lap as Wehrlein rapidly climbed four places.
Vandoorne was able to close in on Rowland gradually but such was Rowland’s early cushion that he claimed the eventual spoils by 1.796s.
Second place was still plenty for Vandoorne to earn the title, winding up 24 points clear of Wehrlein.
Guenther found himself without a rival for the rest of the race after the first-corner scare and completed the podium ahead of the Venturi of Mortara.
Buemi also remained out of trouble for the remainder and so wound up fifth ahead of Jaguar’s James Calado and the second Mercedes of reigning Formula 2 champion Nyck de Vries.
Felipe Massa edged Audi stand-in Kelvin van der Linde, as Porsche driver Andre Lotterer completed the top 10 ahead of real-world FE points leader Antonio Felix da Costa – who was given a 10s penalty for contact.
Wehrlein continued to chip away and recover places but was also reprimanded by 5s to end up 12th and so lost out on the title despite scoring three series wins to Vandoorne’s single success.
It also marked only the second time that Wehrlein – who started sim racing specifically for the Race at Home Challenge – finished off the podium, with the other occasion being Monaco.
The tandem Challenge grid race for sim gamers was won convincingly by polesitter Kevin Siggy, despite several opening-lap clashes with front-row rival Lucas Muller.
BMW representative Siggy survived the initial rubs and then pulled clear by almost 1.4s to ensure the runaway championship leader of a prize real-world FE car test drive.
Formula E Race at Home Challenge – Final championship standings
1 Stoffel Vandoorne 154
2 Pascal Wehrlein 130
3 Oliver Rowland 122
4 Maximilian Guenther 118
5 Edoardo Mortara 59
6 Robin Frijns 50
7 James Calado 41
8 Neel Jani 35
9 Antonio Felix da Costa 30
10 Sebastien Buemi 29
11 Nico Muller 29
12 Oliver Turvey 23
www.autosport.com 2020-06-07 16:09:22