Rowland reigns in Berlin to seal double ABB Driver of Progress

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Rowland reigns in Berlin to seal double ABB Driver of Progress

A combined 25 places climbed and 60 competitive overtakes earned Oliver Rowland two podiums and an ABB Driver of Progress double in the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship’s double-header in Berlin.

Rowland Berlin Season 10

The two races in the German capital could have been frustrating for Nissan’s championship protagonist as qualifying on Saturday then Sunday left him well down the grid for both races in the SUN MINIMEAL Berlin E-Prix weekend.

Starting 15th in race one, Rowland adopted a familiar tactic of his by pushing more early on to gradually rise through the order from the start. The opening laps were among the most energy-hungry of Rowland’s racing, pushing 3% a lap, as his lap speeds were 2-3 km/h faster than the grid average, and on lap four he actually hit his fastest outright speed of the race at 235km/h - which he only matched right at the very end on the penultimate lap.

READ MORE: Seven things we learned in Berlin

This first 10 laps or so came with an energy cost but Rowland was effective at maximising it. He moved him into the points for the first time within four laps, from lap 6 onwards he never dropped out of them, and he embedded himself in the lead group before mid-distance.


Running as high as second by lap 25 of 45 meant Rowland was firmly in the fight for the win, but he had to rectify his slight energy deficit.

To help put this into context with the rest of the field we can look at Rowland’s energy percentage versus the median - the middle value when the energy percentages are sorted from lowest to highest, which helps show what's typical in the field on a given lap.

Rowland tracked below that number for almost the entire race but got closer and closer through the second half before getting back on an even keel for the final sprint at the end.

Berlin Round 9 Rowland

Were he not carrying that small energy deficit for a while, he would not have made the progress he did early on. And crucially he was always within a percentage of the rest anyway, so he never lost control of his energy management and left himself a sitting duck late on.

That’s what allowed him to go toe-to-toe with the likes of Jean-Eric Vergne, Mitch Evans and the Porsche pair of Pascal Wehrlein and Antonio Felix da Costa – and emerge in third.


Rowland lined up 16th for his second race, which started in contrast to the first, where his position improvement was somewhat more gradual even if it was over a reasonably short period of the race.

After a restrained first few laps, this ascent was more dramatic as Rowland moved inside the top six by lap 10 then maintained a position in the lead group from then on, with only minor fluctuations.

The middle of Rowland’s race, during which he rose once again to as high as second, was more punchy as his throttle use increased and his energy usage was more aggressive. This was another difference to the first race – Rowland’s middle phase here came with an energy cost of around 1% compared to the median, whereas in the opener he was starting to recover his losses by this point.

newplot (1)

That meant that Rowland might have some work to do in the final third of the E-Prix to stay in lead contention, but he adapted to that really well. After the second safety car, Rowland had several laps using less of his battery than those around him. It dropped him a couple of places but no more, and gave him just that little extra juice he needed to then push at the finish – and get back onto the podium.

This was not the first (or second!) time this season Rowland has shown upward trends throughout a race when starting low down, which shows how effective he has been with his energy management, judging when to push, conserving when necessary – and above all else, being quick and racing well.

Time and again Rowland is recovering from a bad qualifying to reach a competitive position quickly, defend it successfully and even push on further. He is balancing the racer’s instinct to push with the need to manage his battery superbly.


There is clearly something about this package that is tricky to qualify, and Rowland would probably love to trade these progressive drives for a chance to consistently start at the front, race at the front, and finish at the front.

Nissan’s competitive reality seems to demand its drivers do things the hard way at the moment. And a double podium from his starting positions in Berlin, and a brace of ABB Driver of Progress Awards, shows how outstanding Rowland has been at dealing with that.

Overall standings

Rowland is far and away the leader in the table on 56 positions gained from his starting slots. Reigning champion Jake Dennis is next up on 39 places gained - a marker of his own qualifying struggles this season. Were it not for contact in Monaco ending his charge back through the pack, the gap at the top would be far smaller. 

Rowland's Nissan teammate Sacha Fenestraz is third on 36 positions gained.