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Formula E

Mesmeric Cassidy masters Berlin chaos to take championship lead

Nick Cassidy claimed victory in the opening race of the 2024 Berlin E-Prix to move to the top of the drivers' championship.

Cassidy Berlin
To news overview © Dom Romney / Formula E

Nick Cassidy is the new championship leader after a stunning victory in the opening race of the Berlin E-Prix, after performing a strategic masterclass. 

Cassidy started in ninth but dropped to the back of the grid in rapid fashion, due to opting to preserve energy in an extreme manner. As a result, he had a huge energy advantage in the closing laps, allowing him to cruise to the front. 

Jean-Eric Vergne finished almost five seconds behind Cassidy in second whilst Oliver Rowland claimed third. Monaco winner Mitch Evans finished in fourth with former championship leader Pascal Wehrlein in fifth. 

Antonio Felix da Costa was sixth, with Stoffel Vandoorne, Edoardo Mortara, Sacha Fenestraz and 19-year-old sensation Taylor Barnard completing the top 10.

Early safety car

Starting on pole for the first time since Berlin Season 8 was Mortara, who claimed Mahindra's first points of the season by defeating Vandoorne in the final. Notably, Jake Dennis started in 20th.

As the lights went out, it was Mortara who made the best start as everyone got away cleanly, including, the five drivers replacing either WEC-tied stars or in Taylor Barnard's case, the injured Sam Bird.

Mortara led the opening couple of laps before activating his first attack mode on the third lap, with others having quickly followed. Amongst Mortara towards the front was both DS Penske drivers and the factory Porsche duo.

It took no time at all for the peloton, as expected, to come into play, resulting in a considerable number of overtakes in the opening circulations of the Tempelhof Airport Circuit. 

The race finally settled for a brief moment on Lap 10/40 as a result of a safety car, after Joel Eriksson sustained significant front-wing and rear damage following contact.

Behind the safety car, Vergne led a DS Penske one-two, whilst Wehrlein and Da Costa sat in third and fifth. Mortara was the filling in the factory Porsche sandwich. By this point, Dennis had progressed to 18th but had a considerable energy advantage.

Dennis progress

A lengthy and utterly bizarre safety car period followed for six laps, with the race director having spent multiple laps ensuring that the running order was correct – some overtakes took place accidentally as the safety car was deployed.

Vergne got the race back underway on Lap 17 but was immediately overtaken by Wehrlein, whilst Mortara moved into third and Evans progressed to fourth. Several drivers saw the 19th lap as the ideal moment to take their second attack mode, just prior to the 50% mark in the race. 

As is always the case with the peloton, there were overtakes at every corner, although Lucas di Grassi became a victim of the close racing on Lap 22 after being spun by Dan Ticktum. The Brazilian returned to the pits and retired from the race.

At the front and suddenly Dennis was becoming a huge factor in the race, as he made his way from the back of the pack to eighth. Vergne led the way on Lap 25 ahead of Rowland, Wehrlein, Da Costa and Mortara. 

The pace had increased in the race in the opening laps after the safety car period; however, Vergne slowed the pace again. Evans, Wehrlein, Da Costa and Rowland all overtook him as a result, something which hurt the Frenchman more than usual as a second safety was triggered on Lap 31.

Günther touched the rear of Mortara which broke his front-wing, leaving the Maserati driver helpless as he drove into a wall. The safety car period was another lengthy one; however, the race finally got back underway on Lap 34.

Cassidy brilliance

Shortly after the race got back underway Evans lost the lead, which changed several times in the space of a couple laps. Dennis' supreme charge came to a saddening halt on Lap 36 after sustaining a puncture following contact with Rowland. 

The Briton pitted for the tyre to be replaced but rejoined down in 17th and out of contention for even a point. Back at the front and Cassidy quietly made his way to the lead group, as did Daruvala despite the Maserati driver having served a 10-second time penalty at the beginning of the race.

Due to the two safety car periods, the race was extended by six laps, with Evans having led the way from Rowland and Wehrlein when the E-Prix entered the added laps. Just as he joined the lead group, it was misery for Daruvala, who went into the back of Mortara and sustained significant damage.

The race ramped up dramatically in the final few laps and it was Cassidy that was the driver on the move. Lap 43 and Cassidy with a two-percent energy advantage fought his way to the front and opted to pull the pin. 

It was a wake-up call to the rest of the lead group, as Cassidy escaped into the distance. Cassidy emerged from the chaos to cruise to almost a five-second lead, to claim his second win of the season. 

Behind, Vergne fended off Rowland to secure second with the Nissan driver completing the podium. Cassidy's victory moved him to the top of the drivers' championship.

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