Jean-Eric Vergne clinches title, Audi teammates battle in penultimate race of Formula E season

By Dylan Coyle

WHIP Radio Assistant Sports Director Dylan Coyle reports from New York on the latest in the Forumla E World Championship title hunt


For the fourth time in four seasons of the Formula E World Championship, a new champion has been crowned.

Jean-Eric Vergne’s 5th-place finish pushed his point-advantage over Sam Bird to 31 points, mathematically awarding him the championship in the second-to-last race of the season. Sam Bird could not get past Maro Engel in the last few laps, and his 9th-place finish was not enough to keep his hopes alive for Sunday’s race in the streets of New York. 8th would’ve given him an outside shot, but he would’ve mathematically been alive.

It was no easy race for Vergne, as his qualifying time was disallowed after he was found to be overusing the maximum available power during qualifying. The maximum is 200kW, but he was found to be using 205kW. Forced to start from last place, he made up 15 positions en route to the championship victory. Techeetah used team orders to let Vergne sail by Andre Lotterer at one point, which put the championship in his destiny. Bird had a very poor qualifying run that lined him up 14th on the grid, but he only made up five places over the course of the race.

“I can’t believe it. What a crazy race. God, it feels good!” yelled Vergne, whose last racing championship came back in 2010 in British Formula 3. He went on to dedicate this season to his fellow Frenchman and old friend, Jules Bianchi, who passed away following an accident in the 2014 Formula 1 Japanese Grand Prix.

Vergne won’t be able to accept the championship trophy until after the race tomorrow, but Alejandro Agag adorned Vergne with a laurel wreath atop the podium before the celebrations began.

Vergne and Techeetah should be very fortunate that Audi didn’t have a strong start to the season, considering the progress of their car over the second half. It was an Audi 1-2 today, only the second one in Formula E history (the first being Techeetah in Chile). Lucas di Grassi passed Daniel Abt for first after the mid-race car swap and stayed there until the end of the race. The move didn’t come without controversy, as di Grassi made contact with Abt before running him wide into the next turn to take the lead.

Abt was stone-faced in the post-race press conference. When a reporter asked if team orders had been used, Abt had a simple answer.

“Yes.”

Abt continued to say he was happy for the team, but he said he “couldn’t smile and sit” there like crazy.

In the first four rounds of the season, Audi scored a measly 12 points. In the seven rounds that have followed, they’ve scored 218 points. It’s an extremely impressive run that has them five points behind Techeetah in the Team’s Championship with a possible 58 points on the table in Sunday’s season finale. While round 11 may have been all about deciding the Driver’s Championship, round 12 will feature lots of excitement in the Team’s Championship.

Sebastien Buemi rounded out the podium with a 3rd-place finish, moving him up to 4th in the Driver’s Championship. Both Jaguar cars didn’t finish the race, as Mitch Evans couldn’t get the car off the grid and Nelson Piquet Jr.’s second car stopped running. The race ended up being timed due to a major crash for Alex Lynn, which brought out the safety car. Lynn lost his backend in the high speed turn just before the main straight.

The final round of the 2017-18 Formula E World Championship will be held tomorrow at the same circuit in Brooklyn. There will only be one 45-minute practice at 8:30a.m. before qualifying starts at 11a.m. The race is scheduled for 3:04p.m. and will run for 43 laps.

With the Driver’s Championship secured, the Team’s Championship will be battled out between Techeetah and Audi. Audi has the momentum, but Techeetah would’ve been fighting for the win if it wasn’t for both drivers’ qualifying disqualifications.

Let’s just hope the track isn’t as dusty as it was on Saturday.


This article was written, researched, and published by WHIP Radio Assistant Sports Director Dylan Coyle. If you wish to interact with Dylan, you can reach him on Twitter at @DylanRCoyle

Photo: Formula E

Dylan Coyle

I am the Sports Director at WHIP Radio. I am also the Media Director of the Temple University Ice Hockey Club, Broadcast/Media Relations Assistant of the Reading Royals, and a writer for Klein College.