Though not back to a full esports season, Formula E Accelerate returned for a third successive year with something more akin to what fans were asking for.
Prior to the Grand Final – to be held once again at a live event during the 2023 London E-Prix – were to be two ‘majors’. In layman’s terms, this simply meant two rounds out of which eleven drivers would progress to the said finale.
Fresh off the digital press, drivers would be placed into the brand-new Gen3 car to coincide with its real-world sister series.
Whoever got to grips with it quickest would be rewarded well; the prize pool increasing from €35,000 to €40,000. The Berlin Tempelhof Circuit awaited for Round 1.
Once again mirroring Formula E itself, the qualifying format provided a dynamic show for viewers. Two groups would set times before the Duels stage eventually ending up with the pole sitter.
On this sort of day, everybody would have put their money on two-times champion Frederick Rasmussen claiming top spot, though we were all in for a surprise.
The Dane did indeed perform well but ultimately lost out against Marcell Csincsik in the final Duel of qualifying.
Neither of the front row would be too comfortable; right behind sat Jernej Simončič and Kevin Siggy. James Baldwin rounded out the top five of only a 21-car grid for the evening – Erhan Jajovski sadly had to withdraw due to an personal emergency.
Starts mean so much in Formula E cars, even without the tight and twisty nature of the circuits they race on. Csincsik and Rasmussen could not have hoped for a better opening sector. The pair raced away, as behind, the chasing pack sliced and diced without much headway gained.
With the exception of a couple of incidents which led to the retirements of Martin Murguly and Peyo Peev, the following twelve laps were hugely uneventful. The entire field would consume their first use of Attack Mode to hardly any effect with the lone exception of Baldwin who was able to slip ahead of Siggy for fourth.
The most excitement could be found down in the midfield as a poorly qualified Bono Huis attempted to gain points out of a bad situation. At this moment in time, the 2017 Vegas eRace victor was down in unlucky position thirteen; a position he availed himself of with a masterful overtake on Isaac Gillissen into Turn 9.
Huis was not done yet. Just half a lap later, Gianmarco Fiduci was under threat and had to concede into Turn 7 following a loose exit of 6. Then, at half distance, came another couple of overtakes – this time on Jake Denehen and then Risto Kappet through Turn 6 itself.
Over the course of five rotations of Berlin Tempelhof, the ‘Flying Dutchman’ had wrangled himself into a point-paying position.
On Lap 25, eyebrows were raised briefly as Csincsik dived for his second Attack Mode. The manoeuvre almost cost him the lead with Rasmussen side-by-side with the Hungarian before needing to concede into Turn 7. This was perfect for Marcell who now held up Rasmussen for a couple of corners before blasting off into the distance. The Dane responded with his own Attack Mode activation next time around.
Into the home stretch, Manuel Biancolilla was the driver making moves. A beautifully judged send on Graham Carroll into Turn 1 was rewarded with the securing of seventh place. Marko Pejic and Baldwin perhaps seemed out of sight, but the determined Spaniard had clearly managed his battery well.
With just two laps to go, he was right under the gearbox of the German. On the final lap, as all eyes were on the ever-closing gap between the leaders, Pejic’s defence gave way and Biancolilla had his sixth place. He had run out of time to catch Baldwin, as had Rasmussen left it too late in the day to challenge Csincsik.
It had been a remarkably controlled drive from the Hungarian who was proving to be a surprise package for 2023. With the full 25 points in the bag, his place in London was secured. Rasmussen and Simončič completed the podium of what had proven to be a rather understated race – even more so in the wake of the frankly absurd Berlin E-Prix just hours later.
It will be a very long wait for the second major to be held around the streets of Rome. Whilst we demonstrate great patience as an audience, the drivers will now have valuable months to get more acquainted with their machinery. The pecking order seen at the Berlin Major could very well be different come July.
Formula E Accelerate 2023, Berlin Major race results
- Marcell Csincsik
- Frederick Rasmussen
- Jernej Simončič
- Kevin Siggy
- James Baldwin
- Manuel Biancolilla
- Marko Pejic
- Bono Huis
- Graham Carroll
- Risto Kappet