2024 Formula E Berlin E-Prix |7 talking points

14th May 2024
Simon Ostler

The third double header weekend of the 2024 Formula E season brought plenty of action on track. The wide-open Berlin circuit appropriated the return of peloton-style racing which always delivers unpredictable and chaotic results. The three, and often four-wide jostling opened the door for Nick Cassidy to pull off a spectacular recovery drive in race one, with Antonio Felix da Costa coming through to win race two.

There are now just three weekends left in this year’s championship, all double-headers in China, the US and London. Cassidy holds a 16-point lead in the drivers’ championship, but there is plenty still to play for in a season that has seen plenty of ups and downs.


1. Nick Cassidy storms into huge championship lead

On lap 37 of race one, it looked as though Nick Cassidy was about to fall even further behind in the championship as he languished outside the points with a handful of laps to go. But with superior energy usage, he was able to make incredibly quick progress as the rest of the field lifted and coasted. He cruised into the lead and proceeded to pull out a massive five-second lead to take an emphatic victory.

A better qualifying saw him line up second on the grid for race two, but this time rather than hang back and save energy, Cassidy was able to showcase the multi-faceted quality of the Jaguar powertrain to stick with the front runners. For a time it looked as though he and team-mate Mitch Evans would be able to work together, as they did in Monaco, to bring home another Jaguar victory. At this stage of the season, though, drivers are beginning to take the law into their own hands, and Cassidy voiced his frustration over the team radio as he lost out to Evans during the attack mode sequence.

A costly mistake by Evans, however, saw him drop out of podium contention, leaving Cassidy to pick up the pieces for Jaguar and take second place to round off a massive weekend for the Kiwi. He's now on a run of four podium finishes, and seemingly on a charge for the championship.


2. Andretti completes a remarkable turnaround

Jake Dennis is still very much in title contention with six races to go, but the inconsistency of Andretti in 2024 is startling. The team were slowest in qualifying for race one in Berlin, and Dennis cut a frustrated figure in the aftermath, saying they were being made to look like “laughing stocks” and “rookies”. There was “work to do for the Andretti team,” he said. “I haven't forgotten to drive overnight.” The referral to Andretti in the third person was quite the damning remark, as though to distance himself from the mess he found himself in. You sense patience might be starting to wear thin.

The reigning champion worked on putting things right in he race, as he slowly worked his way into contention for the podium. He was consistently the driver with the most energy usage remaining, and much like Cassidy, worked it to his advantage as he made quick progress to the front of the field with 10 laps to go. A massive lockup for Dennis however saw him drop back, and would eventually cause the end of his race as he had to pit for a tyre change.

He's casting a frustrated figure right now, and that continued even after Andretti completed a huge turnaround in qualifying for race two as Dennis took pole and Norman Nato lined up third on the grid. However, Dennis became embroiled in a race-long spat with Pascal Wehrlein, the pair making contact on numerous occasions and eventually ruling each other out of contention for the win.


3. Da Costa finally wins in 2024

He had one taken away from him in Misano, but Antonio Felix da Costa is finally a Formula E race winner in 2024. It's been a tricky season for the Portuguese driver, his position within the Porsche team has regularly been in doubt as he suffered a horrendous start to the season. Up until race two in Berlin, his best finish was a fourth place at the Tokyo E-Prix, a lacklustre run made all the worse by Wehrlein's championship challenge.

He's still struggling for outright pace in qualifying, Wehrlein has the better of him in that regard, but his race craft in Berlin was a notch above. Even in the face of the dual-pronged assault by Jaguar, da Costa was able to maintain a decent pace and make the most of the infighting between Cassidy and Evans to bring home maximum points.


4. Edoardo Mortara scores Mahindra's first points of the season

It's been a bit of a shocker for Mahindra in 2024. Coming into Berlin the Banbury squad was the only pointless team left on the grid, even the proven talents of Edoardo Mortara and Nyck de Vries could do nothing to turn the tide. With de Vries off racing in WEC this weekend, any realistic hope of success was placed firmly in Mortara's hands.

He duly delivered, as seemingly from nowhere the Mahindra car finally had some pace in qualifying. He was consistently the quickest driver during the session and dominated the duels to line up on pole position for race one. The same old problems returned in the race, however, as inferior efficiency saw Mortara drop back in the race, eventually finishing eighth.

Regardless, points are points and Mahindra finally have some on the board in 2024, although the team still sits a distant 11th in the standings behind ABT Cupra and ERT.


5. Taylor Barnard shows promise

One driver quietly going about his business is McLaren stand-in Taylor Barnard. After making a low-key but successful debut in Monaco, he was called up again to stand in for the injured Sam Bird in Berlin. It's likely Bird will be back in the car next time out in Shanghai so this was Barnard's last time to show his talent. He did just that.

Mclaren has struggled for consistency in Formula E this season, Bird took a tremendous victory in Sao Paulo, but since then the team has scored only eight points in four races before arriving in Berlin.

Barnard got off to a good start by out-qualifying Jake Hughes and then taking the final point in race one. Then, despite struggling in qualifying for race two, he put together an excellently paced drive to time his charge well to climb into eighth place to bring home yet more points for the team. We suspect this won't be the last we see of Barnard in a Formula E car.


6. Joel Eriksson the best of the stand-ins

With the Formula E calendar clashing with the World Endurance Championship over the Berlin E-Prix weekend, a number of spots were opened up for some rookie drivers to join the grid. Jordan King and Paul Aron got their first taste of Formula E competition this weekend, but it was Joel Eriksson, driving for Envision, who delivered the best results among the super subs in Berlin.

The 25-year-old Swede spent half a season racing for the Dragon Penske team back in 2021 but returned to the cockpit for racing action and immediately looked up to speed as he out-qualified his fellow stand-in team-mate Aron. He was running in and around the top ten in race one, too, but was forced to retire after contact broke his rear suspension.

He pushed on further still in race two, qualifying ninth and finishing where he started with a solid drive. Two points represents a decent haul for Envision, which had been pointless in the previous four races.


7. WEC absentees a shame

With such a busy schedule in the world of motorsport these days, it's fairly impossible for the FIA to spread all of its championship races out over a year. And with several drivers expanding their responsibilities across many series, calendar clashes are both inevitable and increasingly common. It is a shame however, that drivers are forced to miss races in other championships in order to fulfill schedules.

Formula E as a championship is particularly prone to losing drivers for odd races, as in most cases the alternative championships take priority. It's an indictment of where the all-electric world championship still sits within the hierarchy of modern motorsport and highlights the work that still needs to be done to bring it up to a level where drivers would rather race in Formula E than anywhere else.

Images courtesy of Motorsport Images

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