Just Electric

Season 4: The Story So Far

One third of the season has already passed by, bringing along memorable races and new leaders to the standings. Editors Jack Amey and Andrea Perilli analyse the teams' performance so far this season and what we can expect in the upcoming races.

Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler

In their first season as a factory team, Audi have not had the start they looked for. With reigning champion Lucas di Grassi yet to score points and Abt suffering issues that stop him from entering the Top 10 regularly, the German marque aims to reverse this situation in the upcoming races.

In the very first round of the season, the Brazilian started from P6, but dropped during the course of the race, and finished in P17.

On the other side of the garage, things looked more positive, as teammate Daniel Abt went on to finish in P5, scoring the first handful of points for Audi.

In Round 2, Abt took the win but was later disqualified due to a technical infringement, taking away valuable points from the German squad. His teammate saw the chequered flag from P14.

The team would take home one point from the Marrakesh ePrix, with Abt finishing in P10; whereas di Grassi had to retire on lap seven.

The Santiago ePrix was another disappointing race for Audi. Abt had informed issues on the radio and retired on lap 11. Ten laps later, di Grassi had to retire, as well; despite having shown a much improved performance on track.

Once the team solves the problems that have been striking the performance, Audi will have enough potential to challenge for podiums and wins, as Abt already showed on the streets of Hong Kong.

 

Mahindra Racing

Mahindra Racing managed to fight for wins and podiums on a consistent basis in Season 3, particularly with new signing Felix Rosenqvist.

And this is a theme that has continued in Season 4 for the Indian team. Rosenqvist is second in the drivers’ championship, five points behind Jean-Eric Vergne, with Mahindra two points behind Vergne’s Techeetah team in the teams’ championship.

Nick Heidfeld claimed a podium in the opening round of the season, with third, before Rosenqvist claimed victory in round two despite an opening lap spin.

And this soon became two wins on the bounce for Rosenqvist with victory in the Marrakesh ePrix by just over a second from Season2 champion Sebastien Buemi. Rosenqvist started third in the race.

Meanwhile, Heidfeld picked up more points as he finished in seventh in Marrakesh. Heidfeld’s six points helped Mahindra keep their teams’ championship lead.

But the team would not continue to lead the teams’ championship after race four in Santiago as Techeetah took an historic one-two finish. Despite being in the five-way fight for the lead, Rosenqvist finished fourth while Heidfeld was not classified.

Mahindra’s Season 3 form has continued into Season 4, taking two wins so far in four races – with one further podium to add to that total. It has seen the squad move into contention for both titles. Keeping the consistency is key for the squad to keep in contention.

 

Dragon Racing

Dragon Racing are one of two teams to change their lineup in the first four races of Season 4. Endurance racing star Neel Jani had been signed before the collective testing held in Valencia in October, and would compete full-time in the series.

Neel Jani joined the team ahead of the season, alongside Jerome d’Ambrosio, but left after the first two rounds of the season. Dragon Racing had to find a replacement for the Swiss on an extremely short period of time. Former DS Virgin Racing driver José María López was the American outfit’s choice.

The arrival of the Argentinian brought a lot of changes performance-wise. On his Formula E comeback, Pechito put his car in third in groups qualifying and finished the race in sixth place – Dragon’s first points of the season.

In the Santiago ePrix, Lopez qualified in 10th place – although started eighth due to penalties for other drivers – and d’Ambrosio started 13th. Lopez had to retire on the opening lap after a collision with former DS Virgin Racing team-mate Sam Bird. D’Ambrosio finished eighth.

After an opening weekend of struggle for the American outfit, the performance levels turned around and they now fight for points with both drivers. It is a performance level the squad need to maintain, or improve, as the season progresses.

 

Jaguar Racing

Jaguar Racing entered Season 3 of Formula E and learning as much as possible about it. With one season’s experience, the British team are now showing their potential and strength on track, currently sitting fourth in the standings.

In the first round of the Hong Kong ePrix, Nelson Piquet Jr. finished in fourth as the Season 1 champion made his race debut with his new team. Team-mate Mitch Evans could not finish in the points, finishing in 12th place.

For the next round, Evans put on a brilliant performance to finish fourth, although he was promoted to his, and Jaguar’s, first Formula E podium after Abt’s disqualification. Piquet finished in P12.

Issues affected Evans’ car in Marrakesh, and the Kiwi driver finished just outside the top 10. Piquet Jr., on the other hand, went on to finish in fourth, again scoring valuable points.

On the streets of Santiago de Chile, both drivers scored points; with Evans finishing in seventh, after starting the race from last. Piquet Jr. finished in sixth, after running wide in the last couple of laps of the race.

The team have shown an important consistency so far, and if said consistency improves, the British should be able to claim more podiums as the season goes on.

 

MS&AD Andretti

MS&AD Andretti have shown an important improvement in terms of performance in comparison to last season.

For the first two rounds, Antonio Felix da Costa and Kamui Kobayashi formed the team’s line-up.

It had been announced that Kobayashi would only participate in those initial rounds, later on being replaced by Tom Blomqvist, who appeared on the official FIA entry list.

The first race ended with mixed results for the American squad. Portuguese driver da Costa finished in the points, seeing the chequered flag in sixth; whilst Kobayashi finished in 15th.

None of the Andretti drivers finish within the top 10 in the second race, as da Costa finished 11th and his Japanese team-mate from 17th.

Blomqvist made his Formula E race debut in Marrakesh, finishing in eighth on an astonishing debut. His team-mate had some issues on his car, and finished in 14th.

Da Costa was back in the points in Santiago, taking home two points after finishing ninth. Blomqvist started near the back of the grid, but showed good pace that took him to 11th, missing the point-scoring positions by just one place.

With qualifying being one of the team’s main difficulties, once this problem is solved, we will see both Andretti drivers fighting more consistently in the Top 10.

 

NIO

After two positive rounds, NIO encountered bad luck in Marrakesh and Santiago. The team are hopeful these issues can be resolved in the short term.

Filippi scored points on his Formula E debut, as he finished in 10th. Luck was not on his team-mate’s side, as Oliver Turvey finished 16th.

In the next round of the Hong Kong ePrix, Turvey was able to finish in sixth and score his first points of the season. Filippi, on the other hand, had to retire after a collision in the early stages of the race.

During the Marrakesh ePrix, Turvey’s car suffered technical issues, which forced him to retire early on during the race. His team-mate could not manage to make it to the points, finishing in 16th.

In Santiago, both drivers were able to finish the race, but could not make it to the point-scoring positions. Turvey and Filippi finished in 14th and 12th, respectively.

Due to the issues the team has suffered, we have not been able to see NIO on top form.

Once the team solve those problems, we will see what the team can achieve in both qualifying and the race.

2017/2018 FIA Formula E Championship Round 4 - Santiago ePrix Santiago, Chile Saturday 3 February 2018 Jean-Eric Vergne (FRA), TECHEETAH, Renault Z.E. 17, with Andre Lotterer (BEL), TECHEETAH, Renault Z.E. 17 on the podium. Photo:Alastair Staley/LAT/Formula E ref: Digital Image _MGL0017

TECHEETAH

Few would have predicted that a customer team would lead both titles after four races of the season, particularly a team with a new driver who had his fair share of teething problems in the opening three rounds.

Former Audi and Porsche WEC driver Andre Lotterer joined the team alongside Jean-Eric Vergne but started off his rookie campaign with four penalties in one weekend, culminating in being disqualified from the opening race of the weekend.

Lotterer’s issues continued in Marrakesh where he picked up his second disqualification – this time from qualifying.

Vergne was able to pick up 43 points in the first three rounds, taking a second place in Hong Kong round one plus three bonus points for pole position, a fourth and a fifth. Lotterer had scored no points.

But in Santiago, Lotterer made his first impact on Formula E – and, in turn, the back of his team-mate’s car as the duo battled for first place. The contact between the two had no impact on the result as the team secured the first ever one-two finish in Formula E.

With Lotterer now showing what he can do in Formula E, Techeetah should remain a force to be reckoned with as the season progresses. Vergne has shown himself to be a good qualifier in Formula E and has improved his race management as his Formula E experience grows.

Renault e.Dams – the Renault works team – are 45 points behind customer outfit Techeetah. Only time will tell but Techeetah are in a good position to beat the works team.

 

Renault e.Dams

It has been a tricky start to the season for the three-time teams’ champions. Season two champion Sebastien Buemi picked up one point in two races in Hong Kong while team-mate Nico Prost picked up six.

Pole and a second place for Buemi in Marrakesh meant he added 21 points to his total while Prost left Morocco without adding to his season total.

The gap increased further between the two in Santago when Buemi picked up his second podium in a row, finishing in third as Renault (as a powertrain supplier) completed a clean sweep of the podium.

Prost finished in 10th to take one point, bringing his total to seven for the season – 30 points behind his team-mate.

Since Hong Kong, the Renault works team have shown what they can do in the races by securing two consecutive podiums. It is a turnaround perhaps expected of a team who have won three teams’ titles on the bounce and fought for three drivers’ titles in a row.

Securing either title may be a challenge for Renault e.Dams given the slow start to the season, with Buemi currently trailing Vergne by 34 points in the drivers’ title. There are eight rounds left of the season and 34 points is not a lot given how many races there are left in the season, but the slow start may cost Buemi.

Vergne and Bird have both scored in all four races while Rosenqvist has scored in three – securing two wins and a fourth place.

And to secure the teams’ title, they will need both Buemi and Prost to score heavily and consistently in the final eight races. It will be a tough ask for Renault e.Dams but it is not something they will give up on. They are three-time teams’ champions after all.

 

DS Virgin Racing

It has been a mixed start to the season for DS Virgin Racing. While Sam Bird has found himself in the Super Pole Shootout in every round, although yet to secure a pole position, Alex Lynn has hit troubles in his first full season.

In the opening Hong Kong race, Bird took victory ahead of Vergne and followed that up with fifth the next day in round two. Third in Marrakesh took Bird to 50 points for the season before a fifth place in Santiago, plus a bonus point for fastest lap, added a further 11 points to his total. Bird sits 10 points behind leader Vergne.

Meanwhile, Lynn, who impressed on his Formula E debut in New York at the end of Season 3, has hit troubles as the season progressed. Lynn secured two points finishes in the opening two rounds of the season, finishing eighth and ninth in rounds one and two.

In Marrakesh Lynn suffered from first lap contact with Daniel Abt but was able to continue and completed a comeback drive by finishing in ninth place – his third points finish in the opening three rounds.

And in round four, on the streets of Santiago, Lynn suffered a mechanical failure that forced him to retire from the race.

Both drivers have scored for the team, with the exception of Lynn’s forced retirement in Santiago, keeping DS Virgin Racing in contention for the teams’ title. Bird will want to build on his two consecutive fourth places in the drivers’ championship and Virgin seem to have build a car capable of letting him compete at the very top.

2017/2018 FIA Formula E Championship. Round 3 - Marrakesh ePrix. Circuit International Automobile Moulay El Hassan, Marrakesh, Morocco. Saturday 13 January 2018. Edoardo Mortara (ITA) Venturi Formula E, Venturi VM200-FE-03. Photo: Sam Bloxham/LAT/Formula E ref: Digital Image _W6I0712

Venturi

Another team who have had a mixed start to the season, Venturi started with a podium in round two by debutant Edoardo Mortara. In truth, it was a race he should have won but a spin late in the race moved him down to third place.

Abt’s post-race disqualification moved the Swiss driver back up to second place, behind Rosenqvist,

Round one was a points scoring debut for Mortara, too, as he finished in seventh place.

Team-mate Maro Engel has not hit the heights of the podium like Mortara has but has scored six points in the four races so far this season, putting the team in sixth place in the teams’ title.

Bouncing back from two disappointing rounds in Marrakesh and Santiago will be key if the team are going to be able to overhaul the teams around them – Renault e.Dams and Jaguar are ahead of them at this moment – but they have two experienced drivers in Mortara and Engel.

With Renault e.Dams and Jaguar sitting 14 and 24 points ahead in the teams’ championship, Venturi should be looking to move up the table as the season progressed. But they will also have to be wary of Andretti Autosport, Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler and Dragon Racing who sit 16 (Andretti) and 18 (Audi and Dragon) points behind respectively.

Just Electric Staff

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