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Berlin E-Prix: Likely champion Da Costa tops Sunday FE practice

DS Techeetah driver Antonio Felix da Costa, who will likely win the Formula E title this afternoon, went quickest in Sunday practice on the conventional Berlin circuit.

If the Portuguese driver wins the E-Prix at the Tempelhof Airport later today, he will be guaranteed of the 2019-20 championship.

Similarly, carrying a 68-point lead over Maximilian Guenther, all da Costa needs to do is finish the race with a 60-point advantage to seal the crown.

He came out of the blocks fastest in the single 45-minute practice session, topping the leader board with a late full-power run to supersede nearest rival Guenther by 0.039s.

A tame practice run was led by Venturi driver Edoardo Mortara for much of the opening half as drivers circulated in a standard 200kW powertrain setting.

But as they escalated through the 235kW attack mode and then 250kW full-power map late on, it was Envision Virgin Racing duo Sam Bird and Robin Frijns who led the way – despite a Turn 10 lock-up for Frijns and Bird complaining of first-corner understeer.

They were joined by Audi factory driver Rene Rast to complete a provisional top three lock-out for the e-tron FE06 powertrain.

But then Dragon Racing’s Nico Muller became the first person to switch to full power mode, which put him top of the times on a 1m06.666s with eight minutes to go.

Once again the Penske EV-4 showed promising one-lap pace, which has so far not carried through for drivers Muller and Sergio Sette Camara in the races.

Reigning FIA Formula 2 champion Nyck de Vries posted the fastest first two sectors to depose Muller by 0.109, but he too was quickly replaced by Mercedes team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne.

Although his title hopes took a dash in the Saturday race when he retired followed a puncture, Vandoorne bounced back with a decent 1m06.474s.

In a fight for bragging rights on home soil in the German capital city, BMW Andretti driver Guenther then ran to first place by a 0.116s.

Da Costa twice endured large brake lock-ups in the session, first over the bump into Turn 6 and then into the Turn 9 hairpin.

But he recovered well to end the session with an unmatched 1m06.319s.

Nissan e.dams driver Oliver Rowland slotted in third behind Guenther, leading Vandoorne and with Sebastien Buemi a solid fifth in front of de Vries.

Jaguar’s Mitch Evans – who showed promising fastest-lap pace in the preceding day’s race – ran to seventh ahead of reigning champion and Berlin race three polesitter Jean-Eric Vergne.

Sam Bird held off the advances of Lucas di Grassi for ninth, with Muller dropping to an eventual 11th.

Berlin E-Prix IV practice results

PosDriverTeamCarGap
1Antonio Felix da CostaDS TecheetahDS1m06.319s
2Maximilian GuentherBMWBMW0.039s
3Oliver RowlandNissan e.damsNissan0.131s
4Stoffel VandoorneMercedesMercedes0.155s
5Sebastien BuemiNissan e.damsNissan0.218s
6Nyck de VriesMercedesMercedes0.238s
7Mitch EvansJaguarJaguar0.257s
8Jean-Eric VergneDS TecheetahDS0.305s
9Sam BirdVirginAudi0.319s
10Lucas di GrassiAudiAudi0.337s
11Nico MullerDragonPenske0.347s
12Alex LynnMahindraMahindra0.439s
13James CaladoJaguarJaguar0.441s
14Edoardo MortaraVenturiMercedes0.448s
15Sergio Sette CamaraDragonPenske0.531s
16Robin FrijnsVirginAudi0.613s
17Felipe MassaVenturiMercedes0.615s
18Andre LottererPorschePorsche0.628s
19Rene RastAudiAudi0.629s
20Jerome d’AmbrosioMahindraMahindra0.899s
21Neel JaniPorschePorsche0.959s
22Alexander SimsBMWBMW1.141s
23Daniel AbtNIONIO1.148s
24Oliver TurveyNIONIO1.215s

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