Title race intensifies as FIA Formula E arrives in London
This weekend marks the latest chapter in a breathtaking ABB FIA Formula E World Championship title fight as the all-electric series prepares to light up London.
At the championship summit, a quartet of drivers stand head and shoulders above the rest, led by Mercedes EQ’s Stoffel Vandoorne.
The Belgian has only won a solitary ePrix in Season 8, at his adopted home in Monte-Carlo, but has been an ever-present on the podium. His consistency has moved him into the frame to take the Formula E crown from his Mercedes team-mate, Nyck De Vries.
Vandoorne took the points lead on an eventful weekend in New York earlier this month, usurping erstwhile leader Edoardo Mortara (Venturi) after a double header littered with problems for the Swiss driver.
Having scaled the order from the rear of the field to finish fifth in the first of two races in the Big Apple, Mortara was penalized by officials for exceeding the speed limit under Full Course Yellow conditions after rain caused a late pile-up into Turn 6. That left him ninth.
To add insult to injury, a brake-by-wire fault during qualifying on Sunday morning left Mortara equally anchored to the back of the grid, and he struggled to tenth spot. In his absence up front, a fourth and second-placed finish respectively across both races was enough for Vandoorne to establish an 11-point advantage out front.
A typically feisty drive from Jaguar’s Mitch Evans in the New York finale have also salvaged his hopes of taking the crown. The Kiwi arrives in London 16 points adrift of Vandoorne, but as the driver with the joint-highest number of wins this season (tied with Mortara).
Of the four title contenders, Evans is the only driver to boast a podium finish at the new ExCeL Centre circuit, first used last season. But he isn’t the only one with a track record of silverware on London’s streets…
A weekend without points in New York dented fourth-placed Jean-Eric Vergne’s hopes, no question. But, if anybody can stake a late claim for the honours, the DS Techeetah ace and two-time champion can. Robin Frijns’ Envision Racing challenger rounds out the top five, although the Dutch driver is now under fire from Vergne’s team-mate and New York race winner, Antonio Felix da Costa.
The battle for Teams’ honours is set to be equally electric this weekend and, with only a double header in Seoul, South Korea to follow, the opportunities to strike are increasingly thin.
Mercedes EQ again lead the way, albeit by a 10-point margin from both Venturi and DS Techeetah, who are tied for second spot. Jaguar remain mathematically in the hunt, but would require a huge swing to overturn the existing 52-point deficit.
Season 8 has been a brutal one for the six-strong British contingent on the grid. Jake Dennis (Andretti) and Sam Bird (Jaguar) are tied on 47 points apiece for 12th in the standings, Dennis ahead by virtue of scoring a podium in Diriyah, the only Brit to do so this campaign.
Alexander Sims was a season-best fourth after an impressive drive in New York, the London-born driver expertly managing the energy on board his Mahindra to sustain a race-long challenge for the lead, and only to be narrowly denied a podium in a thrilling multi-car scrap.
London natives Bird, Sims and Dan Ticktum (NIO 333) will all have extra incentive to impress this weekend, as will the two Olivers – Rowland (Mahindra) and Turvey (NIO 333) – to round out those racing on home soil.
Situated along the Thames waterfront, London’s ePrix is unique in that it takes place both in and outdoors, with a segment of the circuit winding through the ExCeL Centre in the Docklands.
The 1.3-mile circuit offers a perfect blend of overtaking opportunities and high-speed corners, with several straights, chicanes, and gradient changes to throw in an extra challenge for the stars and their cars.
Live coverage of both FIA Formula E races in London will be available on Channel 4 Sport’s YouTube channel and Eurosport.