Formula E: Vergne and Techeetah make history after NYC Finale

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

Jean-Eric Vergne made history claimed his second Formula Championship as his DS Techeetah team also won the Team’s Championship.

Nissan’s Sebastien Buemi and the Envision Virgin OF Robin Frijns both won, as the finale of Formula E Season 5 ended in style in New York City.

Buemi Pole helps Silm Title Bid

Sebastien Buemi took another Pole for Nissan e.dams, to keep his slims championship hopes alive. Pascal Wehrlein claimed an impressive second for Mahindra, with Alex Lynn’s Jaguar in third.

Antonio Felix da Costa was eighth for BMW, while Techeetah’s Jean-Eric Vergne started tenth. His closest championship rival, Audi’s Lucas di Grassi, further back in 14th place.

The Brazilian needed to outscore Vergne by four points to keep himself in the title hunt on Sunday.

Opening Lap Carnage at the Chicane

When the lights went out, Buemi got a great start as Lynn jumped Wehrlein on the run into Turn 1. After the opening lap Vergne had fallen to 13th, as did Di Grassi to 16th place, and importantly, behind Vergne’s team-mate, Andre Lotterer.

The second BMW of Alexander Sims then passed Wehrlein with one of the overtakes of the season. At Turn 6, Sims went around the outside to take third place, with Daniel Abt also squeezing past Wehrlein for fourth.

Heading side-by-side into the chicane at Turns 10 and 11, Virgin’s Sam Bird and Dragon’s Max Gunther were battling for seventh. However, contact was made with the other Dragon of Jose Maria Lopez ahead and sent the Argentine into a half spin and created a pile-up.

As a result, Lotterer was spun round and faced the wrong way and hit Vergne’s car. The German driver dropped to last place as team-mate Vergne pulled into the pits.

The incident was a disaster for DS Techeetah, has Vergne picked up a puncture and needed a new front wing.  Additionally, Lotterer also pitted for repairs, dropping them to 21st and 22nd respectively.

Lopez was another driver to pit, while NIO’s Tom Dillman pulled into his garage to retire.

Di Grassi Fights Back

With Vergne out of the points and more than a minute behind the leaders, Di Grassi and Audi had an opportunity to score valuable points and close the gap.

In the battle for the lead, Lynn activated his “Attack Mode” to try and get past Buemi, but on the next lap, the Swiss driver did the same thing to defend his lead.

Sims and Abt also used, “Attack Mode” as did Di Grassi. The Season Three champion would move up to 11th behind Robin Frijns.

Down at Turn 10, Di Grassi made his move on Frijns and claimed tenth place on Lap 11. Elsewhere, Bird recieved a ten second time penalty for causing a collision with Lopez on the opening lap.

Meanwhile, Buemi defended well against Lynn and shut the door on the Briton multiple times.

The top four, consisting of Buemi, Lynn, Sims and Abt, ran close to together as fifth-placed Wehrlein started to lose ground.

Further back, Venturi’s Felipe Massa made a late move on Gary Paffett’s HWA for 13th, but the Brazilian ran them both wide. This allowed Massa’s teammate Edoardo Mortara to go through past and take the position.

Heartbreak for Lynn

After losing tenth to Di Grassi, Frijns pulled into the pits to retire from the race, while in second place, Lynn’s Jaguar loses power on Lap 18. An issue with a motion control unit forced him to pull over and retire, promoting Sims and Abt into second and third.

Despite his time penalty, Bird continued make his way up the order, overtaking Wehrlein for fourth. Shortly after, Da Costa would quickly dispatch the Mahindra driver for fifth place.

On Lap 20, the Safety Car was deployed to recover Lynn’s stricken Jaguar. This bunched up the field and allowed Vergne back into contention for a points finish.

After the Safety Car pulled in, Sims immediately piled pressure on Buemi’s shoulders. Behind them, Bird ran wide and dropped to sixth behind Da Costa and Mitch Evans, who was also in title contention.

Delight for Evans

Mitch Evans’ performance in the first New York ePrix would keep the Kiwi in championship contention. Image sourced from @GKN_Automotive via Twitter.

Having activated “Attack Mode”, Abt attempted to overtake Sims, but fell into the clutches Da Costa instead and allowed the BMW to get alongside.

However, the pair went wide, allowing Evans to through to snatch third place. Abt then tried to get back on the racing line, but was accidentally nudged by Evans.

Consequently, the German lost even more ground and plummeted to ninth, behind team-mate Di Grassi.

Vergne begin to make up a few places, only for a lock-up into Turn 1 to undo his hard work, sending him back down to 17th.

From fourth to ninth places, all drivers were using their second “Attack Mode” allocation, with Evans hanging onto third place and leading a train of car.

This allowed the leading pair of Buemi and Sims to develop a two second lead over the chasing pack, while they squabbled for the lead.

Vergne was once again on the move and claimed 14th, after Mahindra’s Jerome d’Ambrosio sent himself and Paffett wide after an ambitious overtake.

After defending from Da Costa behind, Evans made a late-move on Sims into Turn 10 for second to help his ambitious title changes. Meanwhile, Bird lost fifth place behind Wehrlein as Di Grassi finally found a way past Gunther for seventh.

A small nudge from Di Grassi into the back of Wehrlein moved the Brazilian into sixth with the second Audi of Abt also getting past to take seventh.

The Drivers’ Title Hangs in the Balance

After a failed overtake attempt on Gunther, contact sent Mortara into team-mate Massa with, the Swiss driver coming worse off and in need of repairs. As Da Costa passed teammate Sims for third, Vergne was in 11th and had avoided all the commotion ahead of him.

Bird’s penalty would played a pivotal part in the championship extremely, as his time penalty would promote Di Grassi to sixth and Vergne to tenth place.

This, along with the fastest lap, left Vergne close to becoming the first two-time Formula E champion. He then passed Stoffel Vandoorne’s HWA for tenth, would in reality was ninth after the application of Bird’s penalty.

However, Evans started to slow with a suspected overheating battery problems and having to defend from the two BMW’s. The long train got caught out Bird, who was past by Di Grassi for fifth.

With a few minutes left on the clock, Di Grassi was hasseling Sims over fourth, with Vergne equally close to Massa for ninth place. Then, on the final lap, disaster struck for Vergne.

A late lunge on Massa went wrong, as he spun his wheels on the dirty line and hit Massa. This caused a multi-car pile up dropped Vergne outside of the points, and more important, increased his rivals’ title chances.

Buemi Ends Two-Year Winless Streak

Sebastien Buemi celebrates his win in the first ePrix in New York City. Image sourced from @Sebastien_buemi via Twitter.

But nothing went wrong for Sebastien Buemi, who defended superbly throughout the race.  The win was his first in Season Five and after Vergne errors, kept him in the title race.

It also marked Nissan maiden victory for Nissan in Formula E, and the first for Buemi and e.Dams since the 2017 Berlin ePrix.

Mitch Evans also kept his slim title chances alive in second, with Antonio Felix Da Costa claiming third. Alexander Sims claimed fourth ahead of Lucas Di Grassi, Daniel Abt – who claimed the fastest lap – and Pascal Wehrlein.

Jean-Eric Vergne’s mistake also benefited Sam Bird, who only dropped to eighth following his ten second time penalty. However, the Frenchman still led the championship with 130 points.

Di Grassi had closed the gap and was second on 108 points, while Evans third with 107. Both drivers needed to win on Sunday to stand a chance of becoming champion. Furthermore, Buemi was up to fourth on 104 points and needed to claim pole position to stay in touch.

Meanwhile, in the Team’s Championship, DS Techeetah still held the lead on 216 points but their gap had shrunk. Audi’s double- points score elevated them 192 points, while Nissan e.Dams were third, ahead of Envision Virgin, BMW and Mahindra.

Sims Pole Lap ends Buemi’s Title Hopes

Alexander Sims after claiming the final Pole Position of the Formula E season. Image sourced from @AlexanderSims via Twitter.

After winning on Saturday, Sebastien Buemi had to take Pole to have a mathematical chance of winning the Drivers’ championship. However, an exceptional lap from Robin Frijns killed off the Nissan driver’s dream.

But it was the BMW of Alexander Sims who claimed Pole Position, after a season of mixed results.

Amongst the remaining title contenders, Mitch Evans was the best placed driver in eighth for Jaguar. However, Lucas di Grassi and Jean-Eric Vergne were too far back on the grid, and lined up on the sixth row.

Added Attack for Season Finale

For the final race of the season, the organisers gave each the drivers an additional third “Attack Mode”. As we would later discover, this only added to the excitement and drama for the drivers, teams and fans.

Sims led from Pole, as Buemi got the better of Frijns for second, with Sam Bird and Stoffel Vandoorne in touching distance.

Behind them, Lopez spun at Turn 6 once again after contact from Andre Lotterer, helping  Di Grassi and Vergne move up to tenth and 11th. On Lap 2, both Frijns and Vandoorne both engaged their first “Attack Mode” of the race.

Frijns attempted to overtake Buemi for second, only for the Swiss driver use “Attack Mode” in response, with Bird and Oliver Rowland sixth-placed doing the same. Vandoorne then got past Bird for fourth at turn 6.

Elsewhere, Lotterer retired from the race which was bad news for DS Techeetah. With only Vergne against the two Audis, Techeetah were in for a long afternoon regarding the fate of the Team’s championship.

The Safety Car made another appearance to recover Lopez’s Dragon, who broke the suspension whilst fighting against Oliver Turvey’s NIO.

Overtakes Galore in New York City

When the racing resumed on lap 6, Sims produced a brilliant restart, pulling a gap of 1.4 seconds, as Buemi came under pressure. Soon after, Sims, Vandoorne and Di Grassi all activated their “Attack Mode”.

At the start of Lap 8, Frijns pulled off a hair-raising manoeuvre down the inside of Buemi for second into Turn 1.

The action was heating up as 19 of the 20 drivers were in “Attack Mode”, with Bird passing Vandoorne down the inside of Turn 10.

Pascal Wehrlein also overtook Turvey for 14th into turn 1, with Mahindra teammate Jerome d’Ambrosio quickly following suit. Shortly after, Rowland also took fifth from Vandoorne.

In the title hunt, Di Grassi and Vergne made their way past Paffett for ninth and tenth, as Frijns closed up on Sims. Abt was running well in seventh, holding up Evans’ Jaguar to create a opportunity for his Audi teammate.

Abt then caught Vandoorne napping and moved up to sixth place, with Evans trying to make his way past the Belgian.

Frijns makes his Move

The top four of Sims, Frijns, Buemi and Bird were in a class of their own, but only separated by two seconds. On Lap 16, Frijns replicated his pass on Buemi to take the lead away from Sims.

Further back, Da Costa demoted Vergne to 11th place, putting DS Techeetah’s title hopes in jeopardy. However, the Frenchman would quickly reclaim the position into Turn 1.

Two laps later, Buemi and Bird had “Attack Mode”, with the pair pursuing after Sims over second place.

Abt continued to help Audi’s charge for the Team’s championship as he passed Rowland for fifth. Evans then did the same to move up to sixth, while Di Grassi used Fanboost to overtook Vandoorne for eighth place.

On Lap 24, Rowland continued to lose ground and lost seventh to Di Grassi. Meanwhile, Vergne activated his final “Attack Mode” and looked for a way passed Vandoorne.

Back at the front, Buemi used his Fanboost to tried take second from Sims, but couldn’t find a way through. Vergne was on the move and passed Vandoorne for ninth.

At turn 6, Gunther locked-up and ran wide after trying to overtake Wehrlein, while Sims defended from the chasing pack as Frijns extended his lead to 4.5 seconds.

On the final lap, Evans desperately tried to overtake Abt for fifth, but the German resisted the challenge. As the Jaguar tried to force his way through, he got tangled with Di Grassi and both crashed out.

By default, Vergne retained the Formula E Drivers’ Championship.

Frijns Ends the Season in Style

Robin Frijns’ victory in New York was the Dutchman’s first classified finish since winning in Paris. Image sourced from @Michelin_Sport via Twitter.

However, Robin Frijns was unstoppable for Envision Virgin and took victory for the second time this season. Alexander Sims and Sebastien Buemi rounded out the podium for BMW and Nissan respectively.

The second Envision Virgin of Sam Bird held off Daniel Abt’s Audi for fourth place, while Oliver Rowland claimed sixth for Nissan.

Jean-Eric Vergne finished seventh to win his second successive Formula E title, and also helped DS Techeetah win their first Teams’ championship.

The HWA’s of Stoffel Vandoorne and Gary Paffett were sandwiched by Antonio Felix da Costa’s BMW to round up the top ten.

Jean-Eric Vergne sprays the champagne in New York after becoming the first ever two-time Formula E Champion. Image sourced from @JeanEricVergne via Twitter.

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