Wednesday, May 18, 2022

FORMULA E: Antonio Giovinazzi scores a lead lap last-place finish

PHOTO: Motorsport Images

by Ben Schneider Guest Contributor

Former Alfa Romeo Formula 1 driver Antonio Giovinazzi finished last for the second time in his Formula E career in Sunday’s Berlin ePrix Race 2 when his #99 Dragon / Penske Autosport Penske EV-5 finished 1 minute, 1.933 seconds behind race winner Nyck de Vries.

The finish came in Giovinazzi’s eighth career Formula E start.

As is the case in Formula 1, the definition of a last-place finish is a bit more ambiguous than it is in NASCAR, ARCA, or IndyCar. Those that fail to finish the race are simply listed as “retired” at the bottom of the results sheet, or “not classified” if they are still running at the finish but completed less than 90% of the race distance.

The first time Giovinazzi appeared at the very bottom of the race results was in Rome earlier this season when he retired with a technical issue after completing 7 of the race’s 27 laps.

On Sunday, however, Giovinazzi’s last-place finish had another significant distinction: it was also a lead lap finish.

The chaotic and complicated nature of motorsports makes the coexistence of these two things an astonishment. Throughout all disciplines of racing, a majority of race weekends will see at least one caution or safety car period due to an on track incident that takes out at least one starter. The complex technology in racing cars often leads to mechanical issues or engine failures that can end a team’s day early. And even on the rare occasion where every driver is running at the finish, the discrepancy between the top competitors and the backmarkers means that the lower-funded teams and lesser-experienced drivers are prone to getting lapped by the leaders before the race is over.

Formula E, however, is a series with enough parity in the competition and where the races are short enough that Giovinazzi is not even the first driver to accomplish such a feat in the series. Stéphane Sarrazin finished on the lead lap in last place at Berlin four years ago when his #27 Andretti ATEC-03 finished 1 minute and 6.954 seconds behind race winner Daniel Abt.

In Sarrazin’s case, it was his first race back after missing the first eight rounds of the 2017-18 Formula E season, making a surprise return to the series to replace Tom Blomqvist at Andretti. Giovinazzi, meanwhile, has run the complete season so far this year, though his success has been limited; he and teammate Sérgio Sette Câmara are the only drivers yet to record a Top Ten finish this season and score a championship point. While many ex-F1 drivers have made a successful switch to Formula E, Giovinazzi will certainly be looking for some positive momentum when the series returns to action on June 4 in Indonesia.

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