Vergne takes huge step towards title with Bern win

by Scott Douglas

Jean-Eric Vergne completed a lights to flag victory in the Bern ePrix to take a thirty-two point lead going into the final two races of the season.

The DS Techeetah driver took an impressive pole earlier in the day and then made no mistakes around the tight Swiss track, despite consistent pressure from Mitch Evans behind him and a late rain shower in the final few laps.

Evans looked punchy in second for the whole race, but despite drawing alongside Vergne on a couple of occasions he wasn’t able to force his way past.

Behind them Sebastien Buemi got his wish of a home podium by finishing in third place, only his second of the season, although he had to fight off the other DS Techeetah of Andre Lotterer late on.

Lotterer himself had driven impressively from eighth to finish in fourth, which included some impressive moves and forcing a mistake from Sam Bird, but it was taken away from him with a post-race time penalty for driving through a red light on pit exit.

The stewards added twenty-two seconds on to his race time after he pitted for a new nose but missed that the pit exit was closed and drove straight out.

It means that he goes from being Vergne’s closest title challenger to effectively being out of contention as he now sits forty-four points back with just two races left.

Lucas di Grassi, Vergne’s other rival for the title, also suffered a setback as he was only able to finish in ninth after starting towards the back of the grid.

It could have been an entirely different story however had the stewards not decided to restart the race using the original grid positions after an early red flag.

The tight chicane at turns thirteen and fourteen saw chaos at the start, with Robin Frijns being punted out of the race by Jerome D’Ambrosio, and Pascal Wherlein and Maximillian Gunther colliding at the apex.

The result was Wehrlein’s Mahindra Racing car blocking the entire track with a traffic jam forming behind him.

However, several drivers were far enough back that they were able to take to the run off at the chicane to cut past the logjam, including title challengers di Grassi and Antonio Felix da Costa.

It left them eighth and ninth respectively when the inevitable red flag was shown, but race officials decided not to use the new race order for the restart and instead revert to the qualifying order.

This drew considerable ire from di Grassi and others, including Felipe Massa, but their protests were in vain.

It meant instead that those caught up in the first corner fracas were given a second chance, and Bird took advantage to come home in fourth, ahead of Gunther in fifth.

Daniel Abt finished in sixth ahead of Alex Lynn who secured his second points finish for Panasonic Jaguar Racing.

Massa fought back to finish eighth ahead of di Grassi, with Stoffel Vandoorne finishing off the points in tenth.

Wehrlein was running high up the order after the restart and looked nailed on for a fourth place finish before his Mahindra Racing car ground to a halt, which completed a miserable day for the Indian team after D’Ambrosio also received a penalty for his contact with Frijns at the start.

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