Alice Powell recovers to P6 in Jaguar I-Pace first Berlin race
One down, six to go: Alice Powell kicked off the Jaguar I-Pace eTrophy Lockdown Showdown in Berlin with a sixth place - P5 in class - following a difficult opening lap.
172 days after the last race, the Jaguar I-Pace eTrophy made its return to the track for its last ever round in support of the FIA Formula E championship.
The whole paddock travelled to Berlin Tempelhof for 7 rounds in 9 days, with the all-electric Jaguar one-make series sadly making its last appearance before being scrapped for 2021.
The series kicked off in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia, featuring 3 women on the grid - approximately one third of the entrants. A bold statement in a country where women were not allowed to hold a driving licence before 2018.
W Series race winner Alice Powell - racing a full season with Ran Racing - were joined by guest drivers Abbie Eaton and local hero Reema Juffali, who became the first woman to compete on home soil.
Powell scored two podium finishes in Saudi Arabia and followed closely Sergio Jimenez and Simon Evans in the championship standings. With consistent results, Powell was quickly in title contention. In Mexico City though, the British lady endured a tougher weekend: after qualification was cancelled, Powell could not do better than 8th overall (P5 in Pro class), but remained relatively close to the leading duo, who again locked the top spots in Mexico.
Six months later, the Jaguar I-Pace cars hit the track again for the remaining rounds on the three different Tempelhof layouts, after the cancellation of the Sanya, Rome, Paris, New York and London ePrixs.
Caca Bueno (ZEG iCarros Jaguar Brazil) secured his first pole position of the season, followed by teammate Sergio Jimenez and series newcomer Nick Foster.
Alice Powell was seventh overall and fifth in class, after she could not put her best sectors together and did not improve on her last flying lap.
When the lights went out, the whole grid sprinted towards the first corner cleanly: Bueno maintained the lead, but Foster was immediately on the move: the Australian attacked Jimenez and, after a few scraps, he passed the Jaguar Brazil driver by almost putting him in the wall. The championship leader dropped to fourth, crucially behind Simon Evans.
Alice Powell had a good getaway and advanced to sixth, but got squeezed at the second hairpin and lost out to both Fahad Algosaibi and Greg Segers.
After the first lap, Bueno led Foster, Evans, Jimenez and Oli Webb, the British VIP driver featuring a Lebanese flag on his car in support of the people affected by the Beirut explosion.
In a notoriously difficult car to pass, the Berlin reverse-layout proved particularly reliant on the "Attack Mode" and Sergio Jimenez was the first driver to make use of the extra power.
On lap 3, Alice Powell battled hard with Greg Segers: the two made side-by-side contact but the Frenchman held on to seventh place, before activating the Attack Mode himself.
Powell could finally make a move stick on the Jaguar China Racing driver on lap 6.
With both Bueno and Foster looking in a league of their own and initially breaking away from the Evans-Jimenez duo, there was more drama when Foster's car was spotted with part of its diffuser flapping around; his pace suddenly dropped, leaving Bueno with a 1.6 seconds gap. Evans closed in, but then had to defend from the attacks of his championship rival Jimenez: they swapped positions after a heated battle on lap 8, when the Brazilian made a bold move in the fast turn 4 section, but Evans was back ahead after he had activated the Attack Mode.
Powell moved up to sixth position when she passed Pro-Am leader Algosaibi on lap nine. Now in clear air, Alice found herself approximately 8 seconds behind Oli Webb, having battled for positions for the entire first half of the race. She activated her two Attack Modes on lap 11 and 13 but held sixth place (P5 in Pro class), while Segers used his power boost to overtake a very convincing Algosaibi.
Caca Bueno enjoyed a four seconds advantage and was never under threat: having missed the first double header round of the season, the Brazilian veteran won the first Berlin race after a dominant drive ahead of an impressive Nick Foster, second at his debut for Jaguar China Racing. Behind him, Evans held off Jimenez for the last step of the podium.
Webb finished P5 in the VIP car, ahead of Alice Powell. Fahad Algosaibi, P8 overall, won his first race in the Pro-Am class.
Sergio Jimenez now leads the standings with 64 points, 2 more than championship rival Simon Evans. Alice Powell maintains third place (34), with Caca Bueno close behind at 29.
One race down and six to go, the Jaguar I-Pace eTrophy drivers will hit the track again tomorrow for a fresh start: Race 2 will be live on the series Youtube channel at 16:42 local (CET).