Maserati MSG Racing’s Maximilian Günther wins the inaugural Tokyo E-Prix

Maserati MSG Racing’s Maximilian Günther  wins the inaugural Tokyo E-Prix

Maserati MSG Racing’s Maximilian Günther timed his attack to perfection in the inaugural Tokyo E-Prix today (30 March), as the 26-year-old’s fifth career victory narrowly denied Nissan a dream result on home soil in round five of the 2023/24 ABB FIA Formula E World Championship.

 

The all-electric single-seater series certainly delivered on its debut in Japan, with close-quarters action throughout the absorbing 35-lap contest. Having secured a second pole position of the season in qualifying for Nissan Formula E Team, Oliver Rowland looked to be on-course for glory for the majority of the race as he controlled proceedings admirably, but conscious that he was running lower on energy than his immediate pursuers, he elected to concede the initiative to Günther on lap 25.

 

It would prove to be a pivotal turning-point. Rowland’s logic was that with Günther still having an Attack Mode remaining, he would reclaim the advantage when the Maserati driver deployed it – but his rival was in no mood to repay the favour.

 

After turning up the wick, Günther activated his Attack Mode three laps later and rejoined still at the head of the pack. While Rowland redoubled his efforts to get back in front on the final tour, the German refused to crack under the pressure, holding his nerve to the chequered flag to cement his team’s second Formula E success and vault up into the top five in the Drivers’ standings.

 

Rowland was duly obliged to settle for the runner-up spoils, having to get his own elbows out two laps from home to fend off a hard-charging António Félix da Costa (TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team), who attempted to pull off a bold move around the outside of Turn 15 only to find himself shuffled wide. The British star’s third consecutive podium finish has elevated him to third in the title table.

 

Rowland and da Costa’s tussle enabled defending champion Jack Dennis to opportunistically pounce in the closing stages, as the Andretti Formula E ace took full advantage of the Season 6 champion’s loss of momentum to steal past into third and return to the rostrum for the first time since dominating in Diriyah two months ago.

 

Da Costa shadowed him across the line in fourth, ahead of Porsche stablemate Pascal Wehrlein, new leader of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship ; the German had looked set for a better result early on, before mid-race contact culminated in front wing damage that dropped him down the order.

 

Having challenged for the lead at the start following a lightning launch, Edoardo Mortara ran inside the top three for much of the E-Prix in Mahindra Racing’s most competitive display to-date in Season 10. After taking the chequered flag sixth, however, the Swiss star found himself disqualified for energy overuse.

 

His misfortune promoted Norman Nato (Andretti Formula E) to a top six spot and countryman Nico Müller to a seventh place to seal ABT CUPRA Formula E Team’s first points of the campaign, with Nick Cassidy scything from 19th on the grid up to eigth on a generally difficult day for Jaguar TCS Racing in the team’s 100th race in the championship.

 

The scorers were completed by Envision Racing’s Robin Frijns and ERT Formula E Team’s Sérgio Sette Câmara. Following the squad’s breakthrough triumph last time out in Brazil, there were no points in Japan for NEOM McLaren Formula E Team, as both Jake Hughes and Sam Bird endured a tough weekend.

 

The 2023/24 Formula E season will continue at another new circuit for the series on 13-14 April, with an Italian double-header at Misano kick-starting a three-stop European leg of the campaign.

 

Maximilian Günther, Maserati MSG Racing, said:

“It’s amazing that we’ve raced here. It’s such a nice city and such a nice country. I love the culture, and we’ve felt very welcomed here. It’s a great track, it’s very challenging and very technical and then to win the first ever Tokyo E-Prix… it’s a huge feeling. I think in general we can be really proud of what we’ve done this weekend: being in the top 3 in all the sessions, always up there and then to walk away with the winning trophy is great. I think we executed the race pretty well, the strategy was good and I pulled off a few good moves to move up and then we defended against Ollie right up until the last lap. It was pretty tight. It definitely wasn’t easy, I think I just surprised him in Turn 10.”

Oliver Rowland, NISSAN Formula E Team, said:

“I was just about managing to under-consume and keep him behind before the Safety Car but I knew their targets in terms of energy were probably building, and unfortunately after the Safety Car the target dropped quite significantly. The lap time delta here is quite aggressive in terms of how much lap time you lose to the energy target coming down so I was kind of in a position where if I had stayed out any longer then I probably would have been overtaken by more people. I think he did a solid job, it’s one of those things that I think if I could do it again I don’t know what I would do differently. I think we maximised what we could, but it was on the table which is quite frustrating. [On his qualifying result] I think there was an element of having the big bosses in the garage, knowing the expectation and it’s just incredible to see all the support for Nissan.”

Jake Dennis, Andretti Formula E Team, said:

“It’s been a bit of a struggle these past couple of months for me, there’s been some changes inside the car that really haven’t suited me. We’ve generally struggled this year so far, some days were good some days were bad and this weekend was probably the first time I felt ‘at one’ with the car. Fifth today for me felt like pole. I didn’t think I would qualify that high up, but in the race we’re always quick.”
 


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