Formula E Berlin preview

May 14, 2018

Formula E Berlin preview

May 14, 2018

The ABB FIA Formula E Championship is nearing crunch time on its fourth season.

With just four races remaining over three race weekends, the clock is running out to make a statement in the 2017-’18 campaign.

This weekend’s Berlin E-Prix marks Round 9 of the championship and one of the final chances to see if anyone can make inroads on Techeetah’s Jean-Eric Vergne.

Vergne captured an important and emotional victory on home soil in Round 8 in Paris last month. In doing so, he also extended his championship lead to 31 points over DS Virgin’s Sam Bird. Bird kept it that close by limping home last race on three wheels after last lap contact with Vergne’s teammate, Andre Lotterer.

As this is more than a single race’s worth of maximum points, Vergne can’t be caught this weekend. But he can’t clinch the championship this early, either. Such a scenario could present itself at Round 10 in Zurich if Vergne has another strong weekend here.

Catching Vergne won’t be easy. He’s finished in the top-five of every race, and has a series-leading three victories and four poles. The four poles alone equate to 12 extra bonus points. Vergne has a 12-1 bonus point edge over Bird and that single stat helps put the points lead out of hand this weekend.

Sitting in third place in points is Mahindra’s Felix Rosenqvist. The speedy Swede is 61 points back and would need quite a bit of help to have any sort of realistic prospects to close that deficit.

Fortunately for him, Berlin was a happy hunting ground last year. He won his maiden Formula E race on Saturday. He also won on the road on Sunday, but was issued a 10-second time penalty for an unsafe release from his pit stop. That demoted him to second behind Sebastien Buemi.

Buemi inherited that win for Renault e.dams, before his title hopes fell apart in the two remaining weekends in New York and Montreal. He sits fourth in points this year with only 70 points. Like last season’s champion Lucas di Grassi, Buemi is yet to win this season.

Di Grassi’s come excruciatingly close with three straight runner-up finishes. The Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler driver has scored all but three of his 58 points this season in just the last three race weekends.

That completes the top five in points for this weekend’s race.

Two driver changes occur further down the grid. Luca Filippi will be back at NIO after a one-race absence. Meanwhile Stephane Sarrazin joins the MS&AD Andretti FE team for the final four races, replacing Tom Blomqvist.

Sarrazin joins the list of those who’ve competed in all four seasons of Formula E. He also has raced for Venturi and Techeetah. He joined the Techeetah team at this race last year.

The race airs Saturday at 11:30 a.m. ET on FS1.

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