Vergne takes title after battling through the field; di Grassi Scores the Win


Vergne takes title after battling through the field - Formula E
Credit: Techeetah

Jean-Eric Vergne became the fourth Formula E driver’s champion in as many years as he battled from the back row of the grid to finish in fifth place.

The Techeetah driver stormed through the pack and passed Sam Bird in the process to take ten points and extend the lead over Bird to thirty-one points with just twenty-nine remaining.

It wasn’t all plain sailing for the Frenchman as he had to rely on assistance from his team-mate Andre Lotterer as he let him past, and he had to survive pressure from Nick Heidfeld over the frantic closing laps after a safety car came out for the crash of Alex Lynn.

But as he has done throughout the season Vergne showed tremendous calm and continued his impressive run of points scoring finishes throughout the year.

But while Techeetah tied up the driver’s championship, the team’s championship was blown wide open after Lucas di Grassi led home an Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler one-two.

The high temperatures and longer race in New York played into the German team’s hands as they comfortably outpaced the rest of the field, with Daniel Abt and then di Grassi working their way to the front.

However there was controversy as di Grassi pulled an aggressive manoeuvre on Abt after the pit stops to take the lead, with Abt shouting abuse at the team over the radio before launching an ambitious move on the following lap.

With contact looking likely team boss Allan McNish called a ‘Code 100’, ordering the two drivers to stop racing each other – something Abt obeyed but not before claiming that it would ruin the spirit in the team.

Behind them Sebastien Buemi took the final podium spot after failing to pass Abt using his fanboost in the dying stages, and Tom Dillmann did an impressive job as stand-in for Edorado Mortara at Venturi by finishing an assured fourth.

Vergne, Heidfeld and Lotterer followed him with the other Venturi of Maro Engel finishing in eighth in Susie Wolff’s first race as Team Principal.

And despite fighting his way through to ninth from fourteenth on the grid Sam Bird saw his title hopes disappear as he complained of his car simply lacking the efficiency to fight with those further up the grid.

His hopes of a stronger finish were given a boost by the safety car brought out by Lynn’s big shunt at the end, but he was only able to make up one of the two positions he would have needed to keep the title battle going into tomorrow.

Nico Prost rounded off the points scoring positions in his second last race for the e.dams team, holding off Antonio Felix da Costa at the death.

The race couldn’t have gone much worse for Dragon Racing and Panasonic Jaguar Racing however.

Both Dragon cars collided at the start, meaning that Jerome d’Ambrosio and Jose Maria Lopez were relegated to the back as they pitted for a front and rear wing respectively.

And despite also having an encouraging qualifying, Jaguar’s Mitch Evans driveshaft failed off the line with Nelson Piquet Jr suffering a fault after the pit stops as he ran in the top five.