The Formula E Qualcomm New York City ePrix will be an unusual event for a variety of reasons, not least the fact that championship leader Sebastien Buemi will not be present.
The defending champ had an amazing season so far. He won six of the eight races, has scored 157 points out of a theoretical maximum of 232 – that’s a strike rate of 68%!
Sebastien Buemi started the season off as he would go on, with victory in the Hong Kong ePrix
This was followed by more wins in Marrakesh and Buenos Aires.
Problems in qualifying left him unusually far down the grid in Mexico City and an uncharacteristic spin ended any hopes he had of connecting four in a row. He returned to winning ways with lights-to-flag wins in Monaco and Paris.
An experimental set-up in Berlin had the adverse impact and he qualified way back in 14th on the grid for Race 1. He raced his way into the top six but was subsequently disqualified, meaning that for the first time since Long Beach in Season 1, he failed to score a point!
But you can’t keep a good man down, and he was back on the front row for Race 2. Pole sitter Felix Rosenqvist won the race on the road but was given a 10-second penalty for an unsafe release and Buemi duly picked up his sixth win of the season and the 12th of his Formula E career.
I want to wish @RENAULTedams and @PierreGASLY a strong weekend.
— Sébastien Buemi (@Sebastien_buemi) July 10, 2017
and I hope to still be in a position to fight for the @FIAformulaE championship at the season finals in #montrealeprix
— Sébastien Buemi (@Sebastien_buemi) July 10, 2017
All this means he holds a 32-point lead going into New York. Only one driver is close enough to overtake him in the points, however, Lucas di Grassi
The Brazilian has endured a far from straight forward season but continues to maximise his points haul whenever the opportunity presents. In Hong Kong, an inspired call by his Abt Schaeffler Audi Sport team meant he was able to recover from a first-lap pitstop to replace a broken front wing and still finish second.
In Marrakesh, the package wasn’t competitive and a battling fifth was the best he could muster. He scored his first Julius Baer Pole Position in Buenos Aires and finished a fighting third, but the tour de force came in Mexico City where he recorded the most remarkable win in Formula E to date.
From 15th on the grid, he was forced into an unscheduled pitstop to replace a damaged rear wing. Now dead last, the team gambled on a very early car change during a Qualcomm Safety Car period. This gave him track position when all his rivals pitted at a more traditional moment, but now they all had more energy. However, despite the odds, he held on for an improbable win.
He was second to Buemi in Monaco, but when he crashed out of the Paris race he slipped to 43 points behind in the title fight. But a pole and two podiums in Berlin allowed him to carve into the deficit and he now has every opportunity of going into the season finale in Montreal leading the championship.
Good morning!! #NEWYORK #EPRIX raceweek! ?????? ?? pic.twitter.com/XF8dBaprMs
— LUCAS DI GRASSI (@LucasdiGrassi) July 10, 2017
Berlin was a breakthrough weekend for Mahindra
The M3Electro was in its element and Felix Rosenqvist took full advantage to claim his and the team’s first win in Race 1 and was very unlucky not to double up in Race 2. Nick Heidfeld scored his fourth third place of the season in Race 1, and would have been in the fight for the win had a sensor problem in qualifying not condemned him to starting from the back of the grid in Race 2.
Now third in the standings, the Swede is one of nine drivers who still have a mathematical chance of winning the championship, as does Heidfeld, who’s fifth
Nico Prost is the only driver to have scored points in every race this season and is fourth in the table, however, he’s yet to finish on the podium. With his Renault e.dams team leader absent, specialists will expect him to step up and lead the fight in New York.
Jean-Eric Vergne delivered TECHEETAH’s first podium in Buenos Aires and would probably have won in Mexico had Jerome D’Ambrosio not put up such a staunch defence of second place and allowed Di Grassi to just get out of reach.
At this point, he seemed to be edging into contention for the title, but back-to-back retirements in Monaco and Paris mean his hopes really only exist on paper rather than on the track. At DS Virgin Racing Jose Maria Lopez has been getting stronger with every race – although he too will be absent from New York. Then came a fine second place in Paris. In Berlin, he missed out on a maiden pole by just 0.001s but took fourth and fifth place finishes.
This has taken him above his team-mate Sam Bird and into seventh in the standings. Bird was on the podium in Marrakesh and Mexico City but dropped back after difficult races in Monaco and Paris.
The final driver who has a mathematical title chance is di Grassi’s Abt Schaeffler Audi Sport team-mate, Daniel Abt
He registered his best weekend of the season in Berlin, taking fourth place in Race 2.
The NextEV NIO drivers have starred in qualifying, with both Nelson Piquet Jr and Oliver Turvey recording their maiden Julius Baer Pole Positions, but they’ve struggled to repeat that form in the races. Turvey was leading in the Mexico when his car died on him, while Piquet was a strong fourth in Monaco.
Mitch Evans has done an excellent job for Panasonic Jaguar Racing so far this season, scoring its best result with fourth place in Mexico and recording its maiden Visa Fastest Lap.
Andretti started the season with a solid fifth and sixth place for Antonio Felix da Costa and Robin Frijns, a result Frijns repeated in Paris. Maro Engel has made two Super Pole sessions for Venturi in finished fifth in Monaco. Faraday Future Dragon Racing team-mates Loic Duval and D’Ambrosio staged an entertaining battle in Buenos Aires, with Duval taking sixth place for the team’s best result of the season.
Take a virtual lap around the @FIAformulaE #NYCePrix. #FormulaE pic.twitter.com/6po9fIaaCx
— SPEED (@SPEED) July 10, 2017