Wehrlein escapes huge pile-up to win again in virtual Hong Kong

Pascal Wehrlein was fortunate to score back-to-back victories and move into the championship lead of the Formula E Race at Home Challenge after surviving a massive first-corner pile-up at virtual Hong Kong.

The Mahindra driver capitalised on a crash for polesitter and early leader Edoardo Mortara to snare victory in the race, which ran in partnership with Motorsport Games to support the UNICEF coronavirus relief fund.

Wehrlein had to recover from fourth place after an enormous opening corner shunt, but his victory by four seconds over Stoffel Vandoorne was enough to move top of the standings as pre-event points leader Maximilian Gunther crashed.

A simulated wet qualifying session allowed Mortara to score pole position by just 0.01s over Wehrlein, despite the Venturi driver not having practiced around the circuit where he bagged a real-life win in 2019. Mortara made a sound getaway and dived to the inside line to defend position into the tight Turn 1 hairpin.

A late-braking Nyck de Vries smashed into the back of Oliver Turvey, who then tapped Gunther into the Mercedes of Vandoorne. The mutli-car collision also partially caught out Wehrlein, who spun across the track and blocked the path for his rivals.

The Jaguar of James Calado and de Vries were able to navigate their way through the car park to chase after Mortara, but Wehrlein and Vandoorne rapidly recovered for second and third places. Mortara was three seconds up the road, but he whacked the inside wall through the first part of the chicane to knock himself across the track and dropped down to fifth.

That allowed Wehrlein to escape to victory over Vandoorne, with Calado rounding out the podium. De Vries held onto fourth ahead of Mortara, who was unable to make up the lost ground owing to understeer that resulted from his crash damage.

Current real-world points leader Antonio Felix da Costa scored his best Esports result with sixth ahead of Robin Frijns and Turvey. Sebastien Buemi and his Nissan team-mate Oliver Rowland closed out the top 10.

Gunther’s race never recovered from his involvement in the first-corner antics, as he was then pinged with a drive-through penalty for a jump start.

As the BMW Andretti driver attempted to progress from 12th, he too fell foul of the inside wall at the chicane and fell to 19th – where he was eliminated by the battle royale-style race format.

In the concurrent Challenge contest open to sim racers, third-starting Lucas Muller made a late pass on polesitter Joshua Rogers – who won the first Hong Kong Esports race – to become the fourth different victor.

The eventual virtual champion will win a real-life FE test drive later this year, and Kevin Siggy currently leads the standings after scoring a podium in each race so far.

Formula E Race at Home Challenge – Championship Standings

  1. Pascal Wehrlein 70 points
  2. Maximilian Gunther 65
  3. Stoffel Vandoorne 58
  4. Robin Frijns 46
  5. Neel Jani 24
  6. Nico Muller 19
  7. James Calado 19
  8. Nyck de Vries 18
  9. Oliver Turvey 19
  10. Oliver Rowland 17
  11. Edoardo Mortara 13
  12. Antonio Felix da Costa 8

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