2024 Formula E Tokyo E-Prix | 6 talking points

02nd April 2024
Simon Ostler

Maximilian Günther looked quick from minute one in Tokyo as he continued to hustle that Maserati, which has languished consistently towards the rear of the field in the hands of his team-mate Jehan Daruvala, into the business end of the top ten.


1. Günther is Formula E 2024's fifth winner in five races

Another lightning performance in qualifying saw him through to the duels on the way to second on the grid behind Oliver Rowland. In a championship that has now seen four different winners of the opening four races, making the absolute most of every weekend, especially the ones where everything clicks into place, is vitally important, and Günther made sure he maximised every single ounce of potential.

Despite losing out to Edoardo Mortata at the start, he was never beyond touching distance of the race lead and took back second place with a stunning overtake. He then made the most of his pace around the Tokyo streets to apply relentless pressure to Rowland, crucially saving more energy as he followed in the slipstream. That pressure eventually told, and the Nissan driver was forced to relinquish the lead to Günther on lap 25. The German was then able to build enough of a gap to take his final dose of attack mode and close out his fifth Formula E victory in decisive fashion, holding off a final lap surge from Rowland to take the chequered flag.

Günther's victory leaves the championship wide open at this early stage, five winners from the opening five races indicates it's going to boil down to consistency once again.


2. Poor efficiency costs Rowland in Tokyo

After taking another dominant pole position as the only driver to dip into the 1:18s in qualifying on a tight and twisty circuit far less limited by efficiency, there was an expectation that Oliver Rowland might run away with the spoils in Tokyo. 

It looked as though that would be the case during the early stages of the race as Rowland controlled the pace at the front and took both bites of attack mode without losing track position. Both Mortara and then Günther behind never looked likely to challenge, but it transpired the Nissan driver was in danger of failing to finish. Holding the lead for the duration had taken its toll on Rowland's energy usage, and he was forced to allow Gunther through in a bid to manage his efficiency to the end.

While losing a victory is always sour, it was the only decision for a driver with eyes on the world championship. After two non-scores at the start of the season, Rowland has now taken three podiums in a row to climb to third in the drivers' standings and is the form driver heading into the double-header at Misano in a couple of weeks.


3. Dennis returns to the Formula E podium

Two weeks ago in Sao Paulo it was Jake Dennis who lost a podium place at the final corner, this time in Tokyo it was the reigning champion jumping on the opportunity to pick up a top-three finish.

Dennis has struggled for consistency in 2024, but a return to the podium puts him only ten points behind championship leader Wehrlein. His performance in Tokyo was typical of the relentless consistency that took him to the title in 2023.

On paper he was never on the pace of the front runners, yet he was able to keep himself in contention thanks to some solid strategy and choreography from his Andretti team. Norman Nato was able to build a gap in the field that meant Dennis could take his first dose of attack mode without losing track position, and that set him up perfectly to make the most of an opportunity should it arise.

And so it did with two laps to go, as Antonio Felix da Costa tried in vain to make a move on Oliver Rowland, Dennis was able to pick up the pieces and sweep into the final podium spot. It's a result that helps to steady a campaign that threatened to spiral out of control after a tumultuous start to the season for Dennis and Andretti, and he'll now be hoping to regain the form he enjoyed a year ago.


4. Félix da Costa falls short after a punchy performance

It feels like a long time since António Félix da Costa won the 2020 Formula E championship. Since joining Porsche at the end of 2022 he scored a solitary victory at the 2023 Cape Town E-Prix, and has been regularly out-performed by team-mate Wehrlein. He finally managed to break a horrific seven-race pointless run last time out in Sao Paulo, sixth place there was the first sign for a while that Félix da Costa might be finding some form. His performance in Tokyo was a further indication that finally his fortunes might be about to shift.

From eighth on the grid he put in a feisty drive with some punchy overtakes to climb his way into podium contention, but perhaps the pressure of his position showed as he pushed for one move too far around the outside of Rowland with two laps to go. He was forced wide, and lost a place to Dennis to miss out on the podium. 

Félix da Costa was furious post-race, suggesting he felt Rowland had offered less than racing room, but perhaps an eye for the long game might have stood him better stead. Nevertheless, a strong performance from the Portuguese will alleviate some of the pressure that was surely mounting behind closed doors.


5. Cassidy salvages points on torrid weekend

Nick Cassidy came into Tokyo as the championship leader, but his immense early form looks to have left him as he struggled through yet another qualifying session to line up only 19th on the grid. After retiring in Sao Paulo, Cassidy needed to make progress in the race to keep the fire lit under his championship charge.

He did just that with a strong drive to eighth, bagging what could end up being four very valuable points come the end of the season. Cassidy relinquishes the lead in the standings for now, but he remains very much in the race.

Jaguar's sudden and dramatic slump in speed over the past two races will be of great concern. After such a dominant start to the season, Cassidy and Evans were nowhere in qualifying or race trim. A trip to Misano next time out, a permanent race track expected to bring much higher speeds, might help the team to get back on form.


6. McLaren suffers more shocking inconsistency 

What a difference a couple of weeks can make. Sam Bird was the headline act in Sao Paulo, his last gasp overtake for the win was one of the most dramatic moments in Formula E history, and yet here we are two weeks later and the man barely gets mentioned all weekend long in Tokyo.

Bird qualified dead last an absolute mile off the pace after losing it on his final flying lap, and never really looked like making any progress in the race. He finished where he started, one lap behind.

Jake Hughes fared little better as he continues to get to grips with Formula E, in a car that looks to be one of the least consistent on the grid. A fourth place in Diriyah was Hughes' best result to date for McLaren, but he's since followed that up with two no-scores.

Bird said that he didn't expect McLaren to be fighting for wins again any time soon, so perhaps we can expect more of the same torrid inconsistency from the papaya cars for the rest of the season.

Images courtesy of Motorsport Images

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