Esports, Formula E

Rowland scores virtual Formula E win amid Abt controversy

May 23 2020
By Sam Smith
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Oliver Rowland capitalised on an incident between Stoffel Vandoorne and Daniel Abt to win the fifth round of the ABB Formula E Race At Home Challenge In Support Of UNICEF at the Berlin Tempelhof airfield track.

But the race took a surreal twist when Vandoorne and double Formula E champion Jean-Eric Vergne both accused Daniel Abt of employing a ringer in the event and not taking part himself.

Nissan edams driver Rowland started and ran third as he tailed a feuding pole-sitter Vandoorne and Abt.

Mercedes EQ driver Vandoorne had lost the lead to Abt on the first lap and was then sucked into a fraught battle with the Audi driver, which allowed Rowland to pounce on the seventh lap and slip through while the pair ran wide at turn six.

Rowland held on to his lead despite intense pressure from Vandoorne and crossed the finish line just 0.2 seconds ahead.

Intriguingly, Vandoorne then questioned if Abt had actually been at the wheel of his sim during the race. The Belgian stated this both during on his own feed and after the race when he was interviewed.

“Really not happy here because that was not Daniel driving the car himself, and he messed up everything. Really ridiculous,” he said on his Twitch stream.

Abt’s feed showed his cockpit prior to the race but his face appeared obscured by equipment. He did not appear for post-race interviews after finishing in third place.

Formula E champion Vergne also questioned whether Abt took part in the event saying: “Please ask Daniel Abt to put his Zoom next time he’s driving, because like Stoffel said I’m pretty sure he wasn’t in.”

Early series points leader Maximilian Guenther spun down the field on the third lap after his BMW clashed with Pascal Wehrlein’s Mahindra while in dispute over fourth place.

Wehrlein took fourth and continues to led the series but now by the reduced margin of four points over Vandoorne.

ROKiT Venturi driver Edoardo Mortara claimed fifth ahead of GEOX Dragon’s Nico Mueller, while the recovering Guenther finished an angry seventh.

Porsche’s Andre Lotterer, DS Techeetah’s Antonio Felix da Costa and Jaguar’s Mitch Evans rounded out of the top 10.

Kevin Siggy further extended his points advantage with a third win from five races as he led every lap of the Challenge Race from pole.

The BMW i Andretti Motorsport driver came under late-race pressure from Peter Brlijak who made a meteoric start from third to muscle past front row starter Peyo Peev at turn one to run second.

The Jaguar driver homed in on Siggy to get within 0.6s of the lead but never got close enough to attempt a move.

Siggy’s dominance ensured that he moves closer to a real-life Formula E test as he now enjoys a 32-point lead with two rounds remaining.

GEOX Dragon driver Peev lost third place to last week’s Hong Kong winner Lucas Mueller, who pulled off a slick move by slotting his Mahindra down the inside at turn one on the ninth lap.

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