Rowland stands by power-saving move that cost him Tokyo E-Prix lead

Oliver Rowland says he “would have probably been swallowed up by more people” had he not backed off on lap 25 of the Tokyo E-Prix, a move that ultimately cost him victory.

The Nissan driver controlled much of the race, but needed to save power in the final 10 laps after a safety car period left his rivals behind him in better shape energy-wise. He backed off on his way to Turn 10, which allowed eventual winner Maximillian Guenther to overtake.

Rowland admits that he’d hoped to capitalize on the Maserati MSG driver’s slipstream and retake the lead before the end of the race, but while the strategy was unsuccessful, he’s not sure he would do anything different if put in the same scenario again.


“The way that Formula E is now, the slipstream’s quite powerful and I was kind of managing to under-consume and keep them behind before the safety car — but I knew that their targets in terms of energy were probably building,” he said. “Unfortunately, after the safety car the target dropped quite significantly and the lap time delta here is quite aggressive in terms of how much time you lose for the energy target coming down so I was kind of in a position where if I’d have stayed out front any longer I would have probably been swallowed up by more people.

“Of course I was trying to keep the lead when the lift … But I think he did a solid job. It’s kind of one of those things — if I did it again, I’m not really sure what I’d do different. Would I have to relinquish the lead maybe a bit earlier and stay in the slipstream? But yeah, I think we maximized what we could, but it was on the table which is a bit frustrating.”

Despite that, Guenther says his charge to the lead “wasn’t that easy” after having to get by Mahindra’s Edoardo Mortara for second, then fend off the more efficient Porsche-powered cars of Jake Dennis, Antonio Felix da Costa and Pascal Wehrlein behind him.

“I surprised him, I guess, into Turn 10, and this opened up the race for us,” said Guenther. “I tried to pull a bit of a gap but I couldn’t really, obviously enough … But obviously it was very tight on energy. The Porsche cars, Jake in P3, were coming very fast with lots of energy from behind so both Oli and me, we had to defend hard and in the end it paid off.”

Guenther’s victory was Maserati’s first since June last year, and he says it shows the work the team has done to turn around its tricky start to the season, where it hasn’t finished on the podium before the Tokyo race, is paying off.

“Every victory is special in its own way. Obviously this one feels great because we didn’t have a strong season so far,” he said. “They’re building something pretty good I think — they made some good changes in the last couple of weeks.

“I think we already saw it in Sao Paulo, just we didn’t get so many points from starting last, but I think this weekend we transferred it into a very good outcome and I’m looking forward to the races to come.”

For Rowland, despite missing out on victory, he is looking at the positives and thinks the result shows Nissan can fight at the front despite not necessarily having the strongest package in race trim.

“It’s probably better than we imagined at the start of the season, obviously missing out last year, coming back to a team that’s kind of rebuilding, but I think the package is really strong,” he said. “I think in qualifying we have one of the best cars; in the race we have some limitations but I think it shows today if we do the job then we can still fight at the front.

“We need to keep qualifying towards the front and keeping in the mix in the races and scoring points.”

Story originally appeared on Racer