Formula E: How Jean-Eric Vergne Made History in Season 5

Jean-Eric Vergne and DS Techeetah celebrate winning the Formula E Drivers' and Teams' Championships in Season Five. Image sourced from @JeanEricVergne via Twitter.

Motorsport’s most unpredictable racing series entered a new era with a vastly improved car along with adjusted rules.

Once again, Formula E provided incredible and tense racing as the championship fight saw new title contenders emerge, while rookies found their feet.

But in the end, one driver stood tall and made history.

Da Costa and D’Ambrosio Kick-Off New Era of Formula E in Style

Antonio Felix da Costa celebrates winning the Formula E Season Five opener in Ad Diriyah. Image sourced from @MotorSportPress via Twitter.

Pre-Season favourites BMW i Andretti Motorsport got the season off to a perfect start with Antonio Felix da Costa taking an impressive victory in Saudi Arabia. Reigning champion, Jean-Eric Vergne claimed second for Techeetah, with Jerome d’Ambrosio third for Mahindra.

There were other changes on the grid as well. Mercedes affiliate HWA made their debut ahead of a full manufacurer entry in Season 6, who also partnered with Venturi. Elsewhere, Nissan took over from partner company Renault at e.Dams.

Envision Virgin Racing’s Sam Bird took Pole Position in Marrakesh, showcasing his championship credentials having finished in the top-five over the past four seasons.

BMW’s dream start came to blows as Da Costa and Alexander Sims collided whilst battling for the lead. This allowed Jerome D’Ambrosio to take a passionate victory for Mahindra, with the Virgin’s of Robin Frijns and Bird finishing a second and third respectively.

Elsewhere, former F1 driver, Pascal Wehrlein claimed fourth on his Mahindra debut, while Vergne produced a great recovery to finish fifth.

Victory for Jerome D’Ambrosio in Marrakesh put himself into the title picture. © FIA Formula E

Drivers’ Standings after Two Rounds:

Jerome D’Ambrosio, Mahindra, 40 Points

Antonio Felix da Costa, BMW i Andretti, 28 Points

Jean-Eric Vergne, DS Techeetah, 28 Points

Andre Lotterer, DS Techeetah, 19 Points

Robin Frijns, Envision Virgin Racing, 18 Points

Qualifying Format Presents Driver Headaches

Over the course of the season, many of Formula E’s top drivers expressed their frustration at the qualifying system.

The drivers were split into four qualifying groups based on their championship positions, with the best drivers going first. Typically, the track would gradually improve and saw the remaining drivers would set better lap times.

Consequently, drivers from the first qualifying group struggled to made it into Super Pole and were closer to the back of the grid.

This led to complaints from Drivers’ champions Jean-Eric Vergne and Lucas di Grassi, amongst others, who believed they were being punished for performing well in the races.

Bird Soars to Victory in Santiago Sunshine

Sam Bird was on song in Santiago. Image courtesy of Envision Virgin Racing.

Sebastien Buemi claimed Nissan e.dams’ first of six Pole Positions throughout the season in Santiago, after Lucas di Grassi was penalised.

However, the chance to converting Pole into victory was shattered after Buemi crashed out from the lead.

As a result, Sam Bird came through to win in the hot conditions and inherited the championship lead. Additionally, Bird also maintained his record of at least once in every Formula E season.

The Briton was made to work for it, after successfully defending from Pascal Wehrlein. However, Wehrlein’s Mahindra overheated and forced him to back off in the latter stages.

The Chilean heat made it a race of attrition as 14 of the 22 driver finished. Daniel Abt earned Audi’s first podium of Season Five in third, ahead of Venturi’s Edoardo Mortara.

Drivers’ Standings after Three Rounds:

Sam Bird, Envision Virgin Racing, 43 Points

Jerome D’Ambrosio, Mahindra, 41 Points

Antonio Felix da Costa, BMW i Andretti, 28 Points

Robin Frijns, Envision Virgin Racing, 28 Points

Jean-Eric Vergne, DS Techeetah, 28 Points

Di Grassi Leaves It Late in Mexico

Pascal Wehrlein had a great start to life in Formula E with Mahindra Racing. Image courtesy of Autosport.

Formula E would experience its most tense and nail-biting finish to date in the 2019 Mexico ePrix.

Pascal Wehrlein followed up his strong performance in Santiago with his maiden Pole Positon, ahead of Lucas di Grassi and fellow rookie, Venturi’s Felipe Massa.

Wehrlein led early on, until the red flag was called for a huge accident between Jaguar’s Nelson Piquet Jr and Jean-Eric Vergne.

On the restart, the Nissan duo of Oliver Rowland and Sebastien Buemi led at the front and were on course for a remarkable 1-2 finish.

However, on the penultimate lap, both drivers  ran out of battery power and dropped out of the points.

Back at the front, Wehrlein was in front but was also trying to save energy, whilst coming under intense pressure from di Grassi.

On the run-up to the finish line on the final lap, Wehrlein ran out of power, and saw di Grassi sneak past at the final second to snatch victory on the finish line.

To add to Wehrlein’s woes, he was demoted to sixth after receiving a five-second penalty for cutting the chicane.

This promoted Antonio Felix da Costa to second for BMW, recording his first points finish since Ad Diriyah.

Edoardo Mortara was third, while Jerome D’Ambrosio re-took the championship lead after pipping Andre Lotterer to fourth place.

Drivers’ Standings after Four Rounds:

Jerome D’Ambrosio, Mahindra, 53 Points

Antonio Felix da Costa, BMW i Andretti, 46 Points

Sam Bird, Envision Virgin Racing, 45 Points

Lucas di Grassi, Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler, 34 Points

Pascal Wehrlein, Mahindra, 30 Points

Hysteria in Hong Kong

Stoffel Vandoorne’s strong performances for HWA has led to the Belgian’s Season 6 seat with Mercedes EQ. © LAT Photographic/Formula E

Qualifying in Hong Kong saw HWA’s Stoffel Vandoorne claimed his first Pole Position in Formula E. This also marked the 50th ePrix in the electric series.

Oliver Rowland led early on as a pile-up at Turn 2 resulted in a red flag. After the restarts, Sam Bird took first place from Rowland as the latter mistaken pressed the speed limiter.

Bird then engaged in battle with DS Techeetah’s Andre Lotterer, making an error which handed the lead to the German driver. The race-long duel between the pair came to a head when Bird made contact with the rear of Lotterer’s car.

This caused a puncture for Lotterer and dropped him out of the points and allowed Bird to take the chequered flag.

However, Bird was penalised post-race for the incident with Lotterer and the win was subsequently given to Edoardo Mortara.

The win in Hong Kong was the first for Mortara and the Venturi outfit. Lucas Di Grassi and Robin Frijns rounded out the podium as Bird dropped to sixth.

Victory for Venturi and Edoardo Mortara in Hong Kong would proved to be the peak of their Season 5 campaign. © Sam Bloxham/LAT Photographic/Formula E

Drivers’ Standings after Five Rounds:

Sam Bird, Envision Virgin Racing, 54 Points

Jerome D’Ambrosio. Mahrindra, 53 Points

Lucas di Grassi, Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler, 52 Points

Edoardo Mortara, Venturi, 52 Points

Antonio Felix da Costa, BMW i Andretti, 47 Points

Vergne Back on Top in Sanya

Nissan e.dams’ Oliver Rowland and Sebastien Buemi claimed six Pole Positions between them. © Nissan Motor Co.

For the third successive race, a driver claimed their first Formula E Pole Position after Oliver Rowland went fastest in Super Pole. Rowland then led the early stages of the race in Sanya, but was passed by Jean-Eric Vergne.

This proved to a decisive manoeuvre as the Red Flag was brought out shortly after for Alexander Sims’ stricken BMW.

After the stoppage, Vergne continued to lead but was under investigation for dropping too far behind the Safety Car, prompting Rowland to attack.

Vergne would go on to claim victory under yellow flags, following the clash involving Sebastien Buemi, Lucas di Grassi and Robin Frijns.

Third place for Antonio Felix da Costa was enough for the BMW driver to lead the championship by just one point.

Drivers’ Standings after Six Rounds:

Antonio Felix da Costa, BMW i Andretti, 62 Points

Jerome D’Ambrosio, Mahindra, 61 Points

Jean-Eric Vergne, DS Techeetah, 54 Points

Sam Bird, Envision Virgin Racing, 54 Points

Lucas di Grassi, Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler, 52 Points

Evans Reaches the Summit in Rome

Andre Lotterer claimed for Pole for the 2019 Rome ePrix in dramatic fashion. © FIA Formula E

In the run-up to the Rome ePrix, Panasonic Jaguar Racing had a mixed season of results.

Mitch Evans was having his best season to date while Season 1 Champion, Nelson Piquet Jr had only scored one point. As a result, the two parties ended their relationship through mutual consent.

In his place was Alex Lynn, who’d previously raced for Virgin Racing in Season 4, who would partner Evans for the remainder of the season.

Andre Lotterer took his first Pole Position ahead of Evans in dramatic fashion, after the German locked up at the hairpin and seemingly ruined his final run.

Additionally, the GEOX Dragon’s pair of Jose Maria Lopez and Maximilian Guenther surprised many after qualifying third and fifth respectively.

Lotterer held the lead off the start, but was overtaken by Evans mid-way through the race.

Despite Lotterer’s best efforts to reclaim the position, Evans remained composed to take his and Jaguar’s first win in Formula E.

Mitch Evans was propelled into championship contention following his breakthrough victory in Rome. © Getty Images.

Stoffel Vandoorne rounded out the podium in third ahead of Robin Frijns, and the Nissan’s of Sebastien Buemi and Oliver Rowland.

Elsewhere, Lucas Di Grassi settled for seventh place, with Jean-Eric Vergne and Sam Bird outside of the points.

This left Jerome D’Ambrosio back at the top of the drivers standings, ahead of Antonio Felix da Costa.

Drivers’ Standings after Seven Rounds:

Jerome D’Ambrosio, Mahindra, 65 Points

Antonio Felix da Costa, BMW i Andretti, 64 Points

Andre Lotterer, DS Techeetah, 62 Points

Mitch Evans, Panasonic Jaguar Racing, 61 Points

Lucas di Grassi, Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler, 58 Points

Frijns Becomes the Rain Master in Paris

Robin Frijns triumphed in a historic Formula E race in Paris. © Getty Images

Rowland would take another Pole Positon for Nissan e.Dams, after Wehrlein was disqualified over a tyre pressure infringement. Due to the arrival of rain, the race turned out to be one of the most chaotic race the series have ever seen.

Formula E’s first-ever wet race caught out several drivers, with both Nissans, Sam Bird, Mitch Evans and Jerome D’Ambrosio all outside of the top ten.

But it was Robin Frijns who survived the tricky conditions to win his first race in the series. Astonishingly, the first eight races had managed to produce eight different race winners.

Lotterer took second for DS Techeetah, while the Audi’s of Daniel Abt and Lucas Di Grassi were third and fourth.

Frijns’ win narrowly propelled him to the top of the championship, with a single point separating himself and Lotterer.

Drivers’ Standings after Eight Rounds:

Robin Frijns, Envision Virgin Racing, 81 Points

Andre Lotterer, DS Techeetah, 80 Points

Antonio Felix da Costa, BMW i Andretti, 70 Points

Lucas di Grassi, Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler, 70 Points

Jerome D’Ambrosio, Mahindra, 65 Points

Vergne Takes Control in Monaco

Jean-Eric Vergne would not relinquish the lead in the Drivers’ Championship after winning the 2019 Monaco ePrix. Image courtesy of DHL Motorsports

Formula E returned to the streets of Monte Carlo, where the streak of different winners came to an abrupt end.

After a post-qualifying penalty for Oliver Rowland, Jean-Eric Vergne was promoted to Pole and was only challenged in the first few laps, before disappearing into the distance.

Pascal Wehrlein ran most of the race in second, but a small mistake dropped him to fourth behind Rowland and Felipe Massa, who claimed his first Formula E podium.

Sebastien Buemi was fifth on the track ahead of Antonio Felix da Costa, only for the latter to be disqualified for excessive power usage. Daniel Abt also suffered, as a post-race penalty dropped him out of the points.

Subsequently, Mitch Evans was promoted to sixth, ahead of Andre Lotterer, while Sam Bird’s title challenge was effectively over after his failure to score.

With four races left, Vergne claimed a slim advantage in the standings, with Lotterer and Frijns close behind.

Drivers’ Standings after Nine Rounds:

Jean-Eric Vergne, DS Techeetah, 87 Points

Andre Lotterer, DS Techeetah, 86 Points

Robin Frijns, Envision Virgin Racing, 81 Points

Antonio Felix da Costa, BMW i Andretti, 70 Points

Lucas di Grassi, Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler, 70 Points

Di Grassi Gifts Audi Home Win in Berlin

Lucas di Grassi mirrored Jean-Eric Vergne’s desires to become Formula E’s first two-time champion. © FIA Formula E

Once again, the Super Pole shootout in Berlin saw Nissan claim another Pole Position, courtesy of Sebastien Buemi.

The Swiss driver started well but the charging Lucas Di Grassi was unstoppable. After quickly taking the lead, he went to claim Audi’s second successive win in Berlin.

Elsewhere, Jean-Eric Vergne fought back from ninth to finish third, ahead of Antonio Felix da Costa.

Additionally, non-points finishes for, Robin Frijns, Mitch Evans and Andre Lotterer lost them ground in the championship.

Di Grassi’s win moved him within six points of Vergne in the championship.

Drivers’ Standings after Ten Rounds:

Jean-Eric Vergne, DS Techeetah, 102 Points

Lucas di Grassi, Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler, 96 Points

Andre Lotterer, DS Techeetah, 86 Points

Antonio Felix da Costa, BMW i Andretti, 82 Points

Robin Frijns, Envision Virgin Racing, 81 Points

Vergne Closes in on History in Bern

A dominant display in Bern left Jean-Eric Vergne & DS Techeetah on the cusp of achieving Formula E history. © Getty Images

With crunch time on the Horizon in Bern, Jean-Eric Vergne started from Pole, ahead of Mitch Evans and Sebastien Buemi.

In contrast, a poor performance saw Lucas di Grassi and Antonio Felix da Costa started near the back of the pack.

The race started in chaotic fashion, as Maximilian Guenther collided with Pascal Wehrlein and subsequently blocked. Furthermore, a second incident between Robin Frijns and Jerome D’Ambrosio brought out the Red Flag.

As a single lap hadn’t been completed, the race was restarted with the drivers in their starting position. This was despite protests from several drivers, such as Di Grassi, Da Costa and Felipe Massa, who made up several positions.

As Vergne led from the trio of Mitch Evans, Sebastien Buemi and team-mate Andre Lotterer, Di Grassi and Da Costa steadily made-up ground. With rain falling, Vergne desperately defended the lead, with the leading quartet nose-to-tail.

However, with Evans unable to successful execute a pass, Vergne claimed his third victory of the season, with Buemi completing the podium. After the crossing the finish line in fourth, a post-race penalty Lotterer dropped him to 14th and promoted di Grassi to ninth.

Consequently, Vergne extended his championship lead over di Grassi to 32 points, with the double-header in New York remaining. Additionally, the likes Evans, Lotterer and Buemi all held slim hopes of becoming champion.

Drivers’ Standings after Eleven Rounds:

Jean-Eric Vergne, DS Techeetah, 130 Points

Lucas di Grassi, Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler, 98 Points

Mitch Evans, Panasonic Jaguar Racing, 87 Points

Andre Lotterer, DS Techeetah, 86 Points

Antonio Felix da Costa, BMW i Andretti, 82 Points

Late Drama Keeps Title Race Alive

Sebastien Buemi’s strong end to Season 5 saw him emerge as an unlikely contender for the Drivers’ championship. © Getty Images

The first race of the double-header in New York was crucial towards the outcome of the championship.

Sebastien Buemi kept his slim title hopes alive by taking Pole, with Jean-Eric Vergne only tenth. However, the Frenchman was helped by the fact that most of the remaining title contenders started behind.

Buemi led ahead of Alex Lynn while behind, it looked like DS Techeetah’s hopes of a first Team’s Championship were in jeopardy. Contact between Sam Bird and Maxmilian Guenther sent Jose Maria Lopez into a half-spin.

A pile-up ensued as a result, with Andre Lotterer crashing into the path of Vergne. Both driver pitted for repairs and were left at the back of the field.

Buemi hung on well and successfully defended against the persistent Lynn, before the Jaguar driver retired with an electrical issue. The Safety Car followed, when played nicely into Vergne’s hands as this bunched up the field.

After the restart, Alexander Sims allowed da Costa passed for third to aid the Portugues driver’s slim title hopes. Vergne was back in contention in 11th, with Sam Bird ahead on track but racing under a time penalty.

With suspected overheating problems, Mitch Evans lost ground to Buemi, as di Grassi nicked fifth from Bird. Then, on the final lap, disaster struck for Vergne.

A late lunge on Massa for ninth went pear-shaped as the two drivers collided. As a a result, the Techeetah driver scored no points, while everything up-front was calm for Buemi.

He went to claim his first Formula E victory in two years – Nissan’s first in Formula E – and kept himself in the championship hunt, albeit 26 points adrift of Vergne. Evans and Da Costa rounded out the podium, with Di Grassi fifth place.

Drivers’ Standings after Twelve Rounds:

Jean-Eric Vergne, DS Techeetah, 130 Points

Lucas di Grassi, Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler, 108 Points

Mitch Evans, Panasonic Jaguar Racing, 105 Points

Sebastien Buemi, Nissan e.dams, 104 Points

Antonio Felix da Costa, BMW i Andretti, 97 Points

Vergne Makes History as Formula E’s First Double Champion

Robin Frijns ended a run of four consecutive retirements with victory in New York City. Image courtesy of Autosport.

Come Sunday, Sebastien Buemi’s chances of taking a second Formula E title went down the drain as Alexander Sims took his maiden Pole in the series.

Buemi needed the extra points for Pole to stay in contention, but could only manage third behind Sims and Robin Frijns. Mitch Evans kept his slim chances alive in eighth, while Lucas Di Grassi and Jean-Eric Vergne lined-up in 11th and 12th.

Sims led from Pole as Buemi overtook Frijns for second. Lopez’s miserable season continued as the Argentine spun after contact with Andre Lotterer, allowing Di Grassi and Vergne.

Additionally, the incident forced Lotterer to retire, jeporising DS Techeetah’s hopes in the Teams’ Championship.

After the Safety Car recovered Lopez’s Dragon after contact with NIO’s Oliver Turvey, the race turned into a galore of overtakes. Di Grassi and Vergne made their way to ninth and tenth as Frijns closed on Sims for the lead.

The top four of Sims, Frijns, Buemi and Sam Bird were in a class of their own and pulled away. On Lap 16, Frijns made his move into first place, as di Grassi passed Oliver Rowland and Vergne got the better of Vandoorne.

Elsewhere, Evans was struggling and stuck behind Daniel Abt. As Evans tried to get through, he tangled with di Grassi and both drivers crashed out.

Frijns remained unchallenged to win the season finale; the Dutchman’s first finish since his victory in Paris. Seventh place was enough for Vergne and Techeetah to secure both championships.

Sims and Buemi rounded-out the podium, with the latter claiming the runners-up spot in the Drivers’ Championship.

Final Drivers’ Standings:

Jean-Eric Vergne, DS Techeetah, 136 Points

Sebastien Buemi, Nissan e.dams, 119 Points

Lucas di Grassi, Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler, 108 Points

Robin Frijns, Envision Virgin Racing, 106 Points

Mitch Evans, Panasonic Jaguar Racing, 105 Points