Race Recap: 2024 São Paulo E-Prix

In 2023, we said that the São Paulo E-Prix was a turning point in our season. This year, the same race marked the recovery drive of our season.

Saying anything more, or less, would be unfounded.

But there’s something special about racing in Brazil. In a nation so closely connected to motor racing, it’s as if history itself is just an arm’s reach away.

Racing in such an environment, and with such a feeling, makes it easy to draw inspiration and on Saturday at the Sambadrome, we embraced the spectacle in full view.

One duel appearance, one grid demotion, 13 overtakes, two points, and one performance for the ages. This is our race recap from São Paulo.

A Cause for Concern, but the Reason to Smile

Maximilian Günther and Jehan Daruvala before the São Paulo E-Prix

As a team, we enter every race weekend with vigour and after examining our performance from Mexico City and Diriyah during the calendar break, smiles were especially present in São Paulo.

That’s because we had found several areas where we could refine our package to improve car performance, all with the hope of yielding greater rewards as the season progresses.

But there was also cause for concern. A gearbox change, followed by an inverter change, on Maximilian Günther’s car resulted in a 40-place grid penalty for the race.

But every cloud has a silver lining. If there’s a place to serve a grid penalty in Formula E, it’s in São Paulo. Despite facing a back-row start, we knew that it would be possible to recover.

Qualifying in the Heat

Maximilian Günther in qualifying for the São Paulo E-Prix

With the grid demotion in mind, qualifying was of little significance to Max in Brazil, but from Group B, the 26-year-old showcased the pace that we’re packing.

After setting the fastest time in his group qualifying stage, Max secured his place in the duels – his third appearance in four races – and continued to reap rewards in the head-to-heads.

In the Quarter-Finals, he comfortably defeated McLaren’s Sam Bird – who would go on to win Saturday’s race – and only lost out to Pascal Wehrlein, who went on to secure pole position, in the Semi-Finals.

Max’s final run in qualifying, a 1:13.041, was fast enough for the German racer to line up in third, but with his grid penalty in mind, he still started from 22nd.

The Strategy Game Begins

Maximilian Günther sitting in the cockpit of his Maserati Tipo Folgore

Trying to serve a 40-place grid penalty in a World Championship that only fields 22 cars is a bit like falling on a double-edged sword.

The full penalty can’t be served, so an additional penalty must be taken in the race. But getting up from the fall is all that matters, and we made a full recovery.

Knowing that Max was destined to start from last place on Saturday, and knowing he would also serve a 10-second stop-go penalty on lap one, allowed us to calculate his race strategy to perfection.

He secured a clean getaway off the line but chose to save as much energy as possible early on, knowing that having more to deploy at a later stage would be critical to his recovery.

After serving his stop-go penalty, Max was 25 seconds adrift of the next closest car, but he remained patient, lifting and coasting to conserve energy.

A single Safety Car would put Max back on level footing with his competitors, and on lap seven, that reset came. The race was neutralised, and Max’s comeback could begin.

A Recovery for the Ages

Maximilian Günther fighting through the field in São Paulo

What makes a good racing driver?

It’s a question that we hear all of the time. Speed and confidence are both good answers, but it’s the ability to read a race which allow the best to achieve the most.

When Max rejoined the rear of the field on lap seven, the only direction he could move was forwards. The race was resumed at the end of lap eight, and then he started his assault.

He performed his first overtake. And then another. And then another after that. And by passing 11 drivers in the space of only seven laps, Max was inside the top 10.

He battled hard with Stoffel Vandoorne for eighth, and despite one last lap attempt, the position was just out of reach.

When Max took the chequered flag, he completed the unimaginable. It was only two points, but every point matters, and on Saturday, ninth place felt like victory.

Jehan’s Last Lap Battle

Jehan Daruvala on the grid in São Paulo

When Max took the chequered flag, Jehan Daruvala was also on the move.

Jehan’s first peloton-style race in Formula E was a massive learning curve. It was unlike anything he had ever experienced and was one of the most intense races of his career.

A small mistake in qualifying undoubtedly cost Jehan a top-eight starting spot, but he kept his head up and drove a clean and consistent race.

When Jehan started the final lap, he was destined to move forward. Some things are, after all, fated, and with a decisive final tour he gained two places in one lap, passing Sergio Sette Camara and Dan Ticktum.

Being at the very start of his Formula E career, every single lap counts for Jehan, and every single lap leads to an improvement.

With the Tokyo E-Prix up next – a new circuit for every driver – Jehan will soon be competing on a level playing field for the first time all season.