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Vergne on the podium, Vandoorne in the points in Berlin Formula E opener

The DS Penske drivers shone in the first of the two races in Berlin, as second-placed Jean-Eric Vergne scored his 35th podium while Stoffel Vandoorne finished in seventh after being caught up in a collision.

Jean-Eric Vergne, DS Penske

After their third and fourth place finishes in Monaco a fortnight ago, Vandoorne and Vergne arrived in Berlin with the firm intention of taking another big points tally. And they did, on the very first race!

It's true that the two members of the DS Penske Team know the track inside out, as Berlin is the only city to have featured on the championship calendar since its inception. This time, however, the route laid out by the organisers is a new one, 2.3km long with 15 bends, the Berlin circuit also has the unusual feature of being covered in 'runway' type concrete.

"This new track represents a challenge for both the drivers and the whole team, and I'm pleased that we were able to meet it," comments Eugenio Franzetti, Director of DS Performance, which carefully prepares the electric single-seaters for the DS Penske team.

"As the surface of this circuit is the most abrasive of the season, we of course always have to manage the energy of the batteries, but also the wear of the tyres. It was on this basis that our drivers worked on the set-up of their DS E-TENSE FE23, with the magnificent level of performance we saw today."

Stoffel Vandoorne, DS Penske, DS E-Tense FE23

Stoffel Vandoorne, DS Penske, DS E-Tense FE23

Photo by: DR

The DS E-TENSE FE23 on track

Vandoorne set a string of good times in practice. Vergne was also in the top 10, even ahead of his team-mate (fifth) in the second session. The two DS Penske drivers are undeniably up to the task on the Berlin track, as qualifying got under way in fine weather. Both qualified for the quarter-finals after the group stages, Vergne and Vandoorne won their first duel and progressed to the semi-finals. And while Vergne came up short against Edoardo Mortara's Mahindra by just a tenth of a second, Vandoorne got rid of Sergio Sette Camara's ERT. He met up with Mortara again in the final, and the final duel went in the Mahindra driver's favour.

But with Vandoorne on the front row and Vergne just behind, DS Penske appeared to be the strongest team on the grid. The only other manufacturer to have managed to get both its cars into the top 10 was Maserati.

"It's a shame to miss out on the three points from pole position," lamented Vandoorne. "But the car is incredible and we can be confident for the future. The important thing now is to do the best job we can for the team and try to finish on the podium."

Jean-Eric Vergne, DS Penske, DS E-Tense FE23

Jean-Eric Vergne, DS Penske, DS E-Tense FE23

Photo by: DR

A crazy race

After just three laps, the two DS Penske cars were in the lead. It was then that the teamwork began, as two drivers in this type of race can help protect their positions. But on this circuit, the Attack mode trigger zone is far from the trajectory and results in a loss of multiple positions.

Vandoorne was a fine tactician, but managed to limit the damage. Just behind, the two Porsches put the pressure on the Franco-American cars, but they resisted. The positions changed slightly, and as a safety car was triggered, the gaps narrowed. On the restart, the DS
Penske cars lost a few places, but remained at the front.

A few laps later, Vandoorne was caught up in a collision involving several cars and again lost positions. He dropped out of the top 10, but the end of the race highlighted the fine performance of the DS E-TENSE FE23s.

As the organisers added six laps to compensate for the stoppages, another energy strategy was announced. The end of the race was totally crazy, with many changes of position.

Jean-Eric Vergne, DS Penske, DS E-Tense FE23

Jean-Eric Vergne, DS Penske, DS E-Tense FE23

Photo by: DR

At least six drivers were in with a chance of winning, and up until the very last moment, DS Penske was in with a chance of victory. Vergne finally secured second place, while Vandoorne managed to climb back up to seventh.

"It was a very intense race," said Vergne just after the finish. "I lacked a bit of energy but our pace was very good and I'm very happy with this podium. It's all very reassuring for the future."

The second race in Berlin takes place this Sunday, with a start at 3.03pm local time.

Jean-Eric Vergne, DS Penske, 2nd position, Nick Cassidy, Jaguar TCS Racing, 1st position, Oliver Rowland, Nissan Formula E Team, on the podium

Jean-Eric Vergne, DS Penske, 2nd position, Nick Cassidy, Jaguar TCS Racing, 1st position, Oliver Rowland, Nissan Formula E Team, on the podium

Photo by: DR

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