until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Formula E

Rowland inadvertently hands Maserati a much-needed Formula E win

4 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Maximilian Guenther brought Maserati MSG a much-needed Formula E victory in the series’ inaugural Tokyo E-Prix, denying long-time leader Oliver Rowland a fairytale win for home team Nissan.

Rowland claimed his second pole of the season and led the majority of the race, albeit seemingly having to carefully conserve energy while doing so as he kept a long pack of cars at bay on a circuit where overtaking was relatively difficult.

Guenther had lost second to Edoardo Mortara’s Mahindra at the start, regained the place using his second attack mode boost, and then took the lead from Rowland around two-thirds distance when Rowland felt the only way to meet his energy target would be to hand over the lead and tuck in behind the Maserati, hoping to get back ahead when it went for attack mode again.

Rowland had managed to clear both his attack modes early without relinquishing the net lead, while Guenther still needed to take one more trip to the attack mode zone once he reached the front.

But he quickly pulled out enough of a gap to do so and stay ahead of Rowland.

Guenther then withstood multiple inventive attacks from Rowland around the final lap to claim Maserati MSG’s first victory since Jakarta last June and first podium of the season, at a time when the team still needs more investment to secure its long-term future.

Rowland’s second place was a third consecutive podium, but was so agonisingly close to being the works Nissan team’s first victory since August 2020, at its most important race.


Guenther and Rowland benefitted from the potentially faster and more efficient Porsche runners being bottled up - Mortara’s Mahindra and its second row partner Sergio Setta Camara’s ERT both holding back quicker packages at various times after great underdog qualifying efforts.

In by far his strongest race of what had been a painful season up to now, Antonio Felix da Costa battled past works Porsche team-mate Pascal Wehrlein and Andretti’s Jake Dennis to emerge as best-placed Porsche runner in the closing stages and had substantially more energy than Guenther and Rowland ahead.

But when da Costa tried an outside-line move on Rowland with two laps to go, Rowland kept da Costa out wide - to the Porsche driver’s chagrin - and Dennis was able to slip between them and deny da Costa what would have been a first podium since last June.

Wehrlein’s race went awry when a failed attempt to pass Dennis left him with a mangled front wing and allowed Norman Nato and Robin Frijns to demote him. He recovered to fifth.


The identity of the sixth-place finisher - and consequently the championship leader - changed repeatedly after the chequered flag.

Mortara held the place on the road, but was rapidly disqualified from what would've been a hugely appreciated breakthrough sixth for Mahindra due to a power over-use being detected.

Nato crossed the line right behind him but had a 5s time penalty applied for a clash with Frijns that left the Envision driver without a front wing.

That elevated Nico Mueller into the top six, but only for just over an hour before a stewards' rethink on Nato's penalty led to it being rescinded after a review and discussions between Andretti and Envision team representatives, the stewards and their driver representative Alexander Sims.

Andretti had argued that Nato was on the racing line when they made contact and that Frijns had been at fault for trying to hang on off-line on the outside where there was no space, rather than - as Frijns had argued over team radio - Nato crowding him out.

Nato therefore moved back up from 15th to sixth, with seventh for Mueller still Abt Cupra's first points of the season.


The late Nato change also cost Jaguar’s Nick Cassidy the championship lead, which he had clung onto over Wehrlein only by countback after a canny damage limitation drive to what looked like it would be seventh before Nato's penalty deletion made it eighth.

A throttle map infringement in qualifying meant Cassidy lost a lap that would have put him into the duels and left him 19th on the grid.

His team-mate Mitch Evans started ninth after being penalised for impeding Jake Hughes then ran into Sette Camara while passing Frijns in the race and had to pit for repairs, eventually finishing 15th.


Though the works Nissan team’s long Formula E win drought goes on, its customer McLaren had at least won in Sao Paulo a fortnight ago.

There was no sign of that form in Japan. McLaren’s Brazil hero Sam Bird spun in qualifying and was penalised for impeding Jean-Eric Vergne, then spent the race at the back and in and out of the pits.

Team-mate Hughes was 14th after a clash with Lucas di Grassi sent him into the barriers.

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