Last weekend, the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship came to its first of two debut Asian venues this season. After strong showings in the last 2 rounds, and being a home race for the team, the pressure was on for Nissan’s Sacha Fenestraz and Oliver Rowland to put on a show for their home fans. Meanwhile, Mahindra would come into the weekend hoping for a turnaround in their fortunes. Asian Motorsport reviews all the action on the streets of Tokyo.

By Seb Tirado

Free Practice 1 & 2

Edoardo Mortara during FP1 | Credit: Formula E

Heavy rain on Friday morning would leave standing water on the pit straight come the afternoon, which resulted in many drivers being caught out in T1’s wet braking zone and heading into the runoff area.
Two red flags would be flown during the session. The first would be for Stoffel Vandoorne’s DS Penske stopping on-track in T4 with a regen fault. The second came after Sam Bird’s collision with Fenestraz at the pit-exit when the Briton locked-up into the exiting French-Argentine, breaking the Nissan’s front-left suspension and front wing.
In the end, Robin Frijns would go fastest with a 1:20.865 for Envision, with Edoardo Mortara in P2 for Mahindra with a 1:21.082. The Nissans of Rowland and Fenestraz would finish 9th and 18th with a 1:21.522 and 1:22.053 respectively and Jehan Daruvala would finish 16th with a 1:21.999.

Mitch Evans during FP2 | Credit: Formula E

FP2 on Saturday morning would again see a red flag stoppage for Lucas di Grassi hitting the barrier in the T10-11 chicane and losing part of his front wing early in the session. Ultimately, Mitch Evans would top the times for Jaguar with a 1:19.339 and Rowland improve to finish P2 with a 1:19.400. Elsewhere, his teammate would finish in 17th with a slightly improved 1:20.640 and Jehan Daruvala would finish in 20th with a 1:20.798.

Qualifying 

The group stages of Qualifying would see Group A host Mortara, Daruvala and Rowland and Group B host Fenestraz, Sette Camara, Dan Ticktum and Nyck de Vries. Group A would see Rowland take fastest honours and Mortara progress in P2 whilst Group B would see Maximilian Günther go fastest with Sette Câmara in P2.
Daruvala and Fenestraz would finish 10th in their respective groups and qualify 17th and 20th. Ticktum would finish 8th and qualify 16th after Bird and Buemi were given post-qualifying grid penalties for impeding. De Vries would finish 6th after being up in the Top 4 for a good proportion of Group B, ending up qualifying 12th for Mahindra.

In the duels, Mortara and Rowland would win their respective quarter-finals and end up competing against each other in the semi-finals. Rowland would be the one to progress, the Mahindra driver still qualifying an impressive 3rd. Sette Câmara would hit the wall during his duel with Günther, being eliminated and qualifying 4th as a result.

Rowland would take his second pole position of the year | Credit: Formula E

After an intense and close final duel, Pole Position for the inaugural Tokyo E-Prix would ultimately go the way of Oliver Rowland by 21 milliseconds, achieving his eighth career pole position.

Tokyo E-Prix

The start of the Tokyo E-Prix | Credit: Formula E

Rowland would have a very defensive first lap, holding off Mortara and Günther whilst the two ERT drivers of Ticktum and Sette Câmara would lose positions in the first few laps. Indeed, Ticktum would take both of his Attack Modes early in the race to make up early ground, as would Fenestraz from his P20 start. The two front-runners of Rowland and Mortara would take their first Attack Modes on Lap 11, with the Nissan driver electing for a 2-6min strategy and keeping the lead whilst the Mahindra driver would elect for a 4-4min one, losing out to Günther on-track. Rowland would take his second Attack Mode on Lap 13, shuffling the German-Austrian driver to the lead of the race.

Günther leading Rowland and Mortara | Credit: Formula E

However, he wouldn’t hold it for long as a lap later he would take his first 4 minutes of Attack Mode, giving the lead of the race back to Rowland. On Lap 18, Evans would lock-up and hit the back of Frijns’ Envision heading into T6, breaking his front wing in the process and ruining his race. in the same corner, de Vries would crash into the back of di Grassi’s ABT Cupra, causing them both to retire. The Safety Car would be called at the end of Lap 20 due to the debris created from these incidents.

The race would resume at the end of Lap 23, with Rowland leading the field. Günther would soon retake the lead on Lap 25 after Rowland dropped back behind him whilst heading into the T10-11 chicane in order to get into the Maserati’s slipstream and conserve energy in a bid to get the lead back once Günther took his second Attack Mode. However, this ultimately wouldn’t come to fruition as Günther would eventually take his second lot of 4 minutes without losing the lead. A few laps later, an opportunistic overtaking attempt by Porsche’s António Félix Da Costa on Rowland into T15 would see him lose 3rd to Jake Dennis.

Günther would take his fifth career win and Rowland would take his ninth podium for Nissan | Credit: Formula E

Rowland would try multiple times on the final lap to take the lead from Günther, but the Maserati driver would ultimately take victory on the streets of Tokyo. Nevertheless, a P2 finish for the Briton would give Nissan their third consecutive podium of the year, their best finish since the second 2023 Rome E-Prix with Norman Nato and a further boost up the Teams’ Standings from 6th to 4th. Dennis’ P3 would similarly boost Andretti from 5th to 3rd. Elsewhere, Rowland’s teammate Fenestraz would just miss out on the points to ERT’s Sette Câmara who finished 10th and another quiet race for Daruvala would see him finish 17th ahead of Ticktum, who had yet another dismal weekend.

Mahindra’s high-flying weekend would be topped off by Mortara finishing P6 and giving the team their first championship points of the year. However, this would shortly be shattered after he was disqualified for exceeding the allowed energy limit. This unfortunate turn in events, along with de Vries’ retirement in the race, only added to the team’s great struggles this season. Nonetheless, Nico Müller finishing P7 for their customer team of ABT Cupra would give Mahindra their first points in the Manufacturers’ Trophy.

FIA Formula E Drivers’ Championship Top 10

  1. Pascal Wehrlein (Porsche) – 63
  2. Nick Cassidy (Jaguar) – 61
  3. Oliver Rowland (Nissan) – 54
  4. Jake Dennis (Andretti) – 53
  5. Maximilian Günther (Maserati) – 48
  6. Mitch Evans (Jaguar) – 39
  7. Jean-Éric Vergne (DS Penske) – 39
  8. Sam Bird (McLaren) – 37
  9. Robin Frijns (Envision) – 21
  10. Sébastien Buemi (Envision) – 20

FIA Formula E Teams’ Championship Top 5

  1. Jaguar TCS Racing – 100
  2. TAG Heuer Porsche – 83
  3. Andretti – 70
  4. Nissan – 62
  5. DS Penske – 57

FIA Formula E Manufacturers’ Trophy

  1. Jaguar (Jaguar/Envision) – 129
  2. Porsche (Porsche/Andretti) – 122
  3. Nissan (Nissan/NEOM McLaren) – 109
  4. Stellantis (DS Penske/Maserati) – 97
  5. Mahindra (Mahindra/ABT Cupra) – 6
  6. Electric Racing Technologies (ERT) – 3

Rounds 6 and 7 will see the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship return to Italy with an inaugural race at the Misano World Circuit on April 13th-14th.

Header image credit: Formula E

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here