Formula E New York City Preview
Formula E New York City Preview
The end of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship’s first four-year period occurs this weekend in New York City, in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty.
Formula E’s second annual trip to the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York serves as the site for the New York City E-Prix.
“Two” is the magic number for this year’s race weekend. There are two races up for grabs, for only the second time this year. Two drivers are vying for the driver’s championships. And two teams – one privateer, one manufacturer – are set to battle for the team’s championship.
In the driver’s battle, Techeetah’s Jean-Eric Vergne enters with a 23-point lead over DS Virgin’s Sam Bird (163-140).
Vergne picked the worst possible time to have his first “off weekend” of the year last time out in Zurich. The Frenchman qualified 17th and despite climbing as high as eighth, finished 10th after serving a drive-through penalty. This was his first finish outside the top-five in 10 races this year.
Bird, by contrast, flew under the radar with a solid second place and cut Vergne’s lead by 17 points in one race. Continuing with the “two” theme, Bird heads to New York with confidence knowing it’s a place he won twice last year. He drives the No. 2 car; that 23-point deficit, plus his car number (2) equals Vergne’s No. 25 car.
Things aren’t quite as numerically simple in the team’s championship. Techeetah has the team’s title within its grasp, and will work to secure it this weekend.
The privateer outfit holds a 33-point lead over Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler (219-186). DS Virgin is also mathematically alive at 62 points back, but it’d take a highly improbable set of circumstances over two races for them to overtake the two teams ahead.
Since Renault e.dams won the first three team championships, a new team champion is guaranteed for season four.
For any of Vergne, Bird or Techeetah, a title would be their first in Formula E. Audi, under its previous name of ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport, won last year’s driver title with Lucas di Grassi.
Di Grassi, now up to third in points with 101, enters fresh off his overdue first win of the year in Zurich. The Brazilian driver has scored a series-high 98 points in the last five races with four second places, and one win. Had it not been for a miserable first five races of the year where di Grassi scored only three points, he would have likely been in contention to repeat his championship.
Sebastien Buemi sits fourth in points and will make his New York City E-Prix debut this weekend. Buemi lost significant ground here last year despite entering with a substantial lead. He missed the New York weekend owing to his FIA World Endurance Championship commitments with Toyota. He then lost the championship in dramatic fashion in Montreal.
Felix Rosenqvist sits fifth in points and has had the opposite run of form as has di Grassi. The Mahindra driver has scored just 21 points in the last six races, and fallen from the title fight.
Two American teams will fly their U.S. flags on home soil. Dragon Racing enters fresh off Jerome d’Ambrosio’s podium last race in Zurich. He and Jose Maria Lopez will look to add to Dragon’s season-long points total of 41 this weekend.
The MS&AD Andretti Formula E team has scored 24 points this year. Stephane Sarrazin and Antonio Felix da Costa drive the two cars for Michael Andretti’s team. Andretti’s group has enjoyed a technical partnership with BMW for several seasons. Next season, BMW makes its full entry into Formula E as a works team.
“Next season” is likely to be a big talking point at New York. But first, there’s the current season to wrap up.