Our Formula E expert Sam Smith ranks the drivers’ performances after a bruising Santiago E-Prix
Vergne had the pace to take victory but too much rubbing in his racing ultimately told – meaning nil points for the reigning champ.
An average qualifying run left him starting down in 11th, directly behind team-mate da Costa – who he ran close to for most of race but baulked in his final few fitful laps with a damaged front wing before retiring with damage.
Antonio Felix da Costa
Like Vergne, da Costa had the pace but not the execution and management to take the win. He diced energetically with Mortara, which bent his suspension severely, before coming through and dispatching Wehrlein, Evans and Gunther to tee-up victory.
But celebrations were stymied by miscommunications from da Costa’s side of the garage, which hasn’t quite gelled yet. This caused a conservative last few laps and a chance that Gunther needed no second invitation to accept.
Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler
Lucas di Grassi
An accomplished burn from the stern effort from di Grassi after a nightmare of a qualifying session including an unfortunate distraction because of Rowland’s shunt and then a mistake while attempting to recover.
This meant a start from a lowly 22nd position but a patient and effective scythe through the field netted a hard-earned six points.
Abt was also a victim of qualifying misfortune when Robin Frijns’ spin wrong-footed him and consigned him to a 13th place start.
He carved out progress steadily and made his way forward through contact with Bird and Massa, the latter of which resulted in a penalty and no points.
Envision Virgin Racing
Bird didn’t seem to get the best from his car in qualifying compared to others in the dreaded guinea pig Group 1 sextet. As a result he started 16th but made good progress until being nerfed into a spin by Abt.
A never-say-die recovery drive garnered a point for 10th place after others’ penalties. He also claimed a bonus point for setting fastest lap.
A second consecutive difficult race for Frijns, who again made a mistake and compromised his and the following Mortara’s qualifying. Frijns had to combat issues with his car though too ahead of qualifying, with a mystery vibration.
His miserable start to the season was compounded with a puncture after early contact and he pitted. He rejoined the fray but was classified a lap down in a frustrated 15th.
The second consecutive disastrous race in terms of a result for Buemi. A scrappy super pole lap preceded a troublesome E-Prix beginning with a sluggish start and then his race length strategy being amended after a miscalculation. A triple whammy of woe was completed when his re-gen paddle snapped off!
His subsequent wrestling with the paddle caused him to exceed the new throttle pedal map rules and he was subsequently slapped with a 30-second penalty.
Quick but erratic all day, Rowland seemed to set a coruscating tone in first practice when he needlessly nudged Gunther. He then topped the times in the second session before creaming his Nissan IM02 into the wall on his qualifying lap.
Initial patience in the early stages didn’t last long and he pitted with damage after contact with Abt. This earned him a sanction and two penalty points.
BMW I Andretti Motorsport
A tough weekend for the erstwhile championship leader and one in which he should have got the requisite points to keep the title lead.
He started 15th after a reasonable qualifying effort in the worst conditions but an early hair-raising battle with his 2019 Sanya nemesis Lotterer led to him retiring with a damaged car that caused contact with the wall.
Guenther hit his straps from the word go and got into a potentially winning rhythm. Faultless in qualifying, his only blemish was getting muscled out of second place by countryman Wehrlein at the start.
His attack mode strategy was executed beautifully and his overtake on Evans was the move of the race. He stayed cool in the tense last laps, listened to his engineer and picked Da Costa off. A true breakthrough victory for Formula E’s youngest ever winner.
Wehrlein’s love affair with Santiago continued as he set strong qualifying and super pole laps to start third. He mugged Gunther at Turn 1 with a delicious move and looked to be in genuine contention to banish his disappointment of 2019 (when he had to cool off pressure on winner Bird).
Twelve months later it was a similar scenario and rising battery temperatures ensured he was forced into a conservative race that yielded fourth place.
Again blighted by misfortune, d’Ambrosio saw his Santiago event scuppered by a gearbox issue in qualifying that ensured he took a new unit and started 20th.
Having not done a practice start in practice two he was compromised and was initially left on the grid but eventually got going. Despite some early progress a forgettable day ended with a penalty for a throttle map irregularity and a non-classification.
Panasonic Jaguar Racing
Majestic in qualifying and super pole, Evans also initially looked like he was controlling things in the opening 15 minutes. Nothing could be further from the truth, though, as an issue that thwarted accurate energy target information between team and driver sent him into a downward spiral.
Despite robust defence against Gunther, Evans had over-consumed and was a sitting duck in the second phase. That meant a damage limitation run to fourth on the road but third once de Vries had been penalised.
A disappointing qualifying left Calado starting 18th but a well-crafted race brought points for the second race in succession with a stealthy but assertive run to eighth position.
Should he get his one lap pace nailed Calado is likely to score much bigger points in his rookie season.
ROKiT Venturi Racing
A fine qualifying effort brought a best ever starting position of fourth but the race was a big disappointment.
Massa again appeared to be out-muscled in the robust scraps within the top 10 and dropped several position before being spun down to an eventual ninth place finish by an erratic Daniel Abt.
Mortara can be forgiven for feeling depressed after Santiago as by rights he could have been challenging da Costa and Gunther for the win. The reason he didn’t was little of his making – Frijns spun in front of him and inadvertently lost him a place in super pole.
A rumbustious race featured a red in tooth and claw battle with da Costa and the last of several contacts between them resulted in a broken wishbone.
Hartley struggled to get any noticeable speed from his car for the majority of the event and struggled to explain any precise problem other than an inherent lack of pace.
Damage from contact in the opening battles contributed to another shunt with five laps to go – bending a track rod and then retiring the car in the pits.
Like Hartley, Muller chased his own tail trying to extract more pace from his Penske package and lined up in 19th position two places behind his team-mate.
A forgettable if tenacious race from Muller brought 11th, little joy and a penalty for collecting Lotterer’s Porsche.
Turvey’s qualifying and super pole efforts were a revelation and in the context of the upheaval that the newly named NIO333 team has gone through was staggeringly good.
It must have been demoralising to know that he would drop like a stone in the race but he was largely unbowed and raced hard to the flag for a courageous and undeserving 11th place finish.
Ma Qing Hua
A practice two wall clouting incident dented the NIO333 car and confidence in equal measure but to give Ma his due, he built a sensible if somewhat unspectacular race in the early stages after coasting down to Turn 1 in a pre-arranged back row energy saving pact with Rowland.
Further uneventful miles are needed for Ma to get the requisite confidence he needs to progress. The upcoming Mexico and Marrakesh races with slightly more forgiving run-off should help him progress a little.
Superlative qualifying effort from Vandoorne as he judged the tricky Group 1 conditions to perfection and lined up 11th.
The race was difficult because Vandoorne came out of early skirmishes poorly and that affected the handling of his car. He did a good job in managing his car’s physical compromise and also some over-consumption of energy to take the lead of the championship with sixth-placed points.
Nyck de Vries
De Vries continues to be easily the standout rookie this season after delivered another impressive performance in Chile. A decent qualifying effort earned him eighth and he showed to be capable of handling himself in some gritty wheel-to-wheel combat as he pulled off brawny overtakes.
This should have given him a maiden podium but a five-second penalty for his team overcooling the RESS on the grid was costly. Despite taking Evans in the final metres he was instantly shuffled down to fourth place in the results.
TAG-Heuer Porsche Formula E Team
A rare messy weekend for Lotterer that ended in retirement with a damaged car after multiple contacts having got sucked into a volatile scrap with Sims.
Qualifying was relatively uneventful but in Group 1 there was little hope for the rookie team – which had much to analyse after a first disappointing Formula E weekend that also included multiple penalties for both Lotterer and Porsche.
Jani’s tough start to a first permanent Formula E programme continued with little pace shown in qualifying group four, which will be a concern for the team.
He had a reasonable start to the race but got caught up in the fall out from the Lotterer/Sims battle and then a hit from Abt ended his day with irreversible damage.