Just Electric

Formula E’s Thrilling Season Finales

We take a trip down memory lane to review the three epic and nail-biting season finales Formula E has had throughout its history.

At the upcoming New York ePrix in Brooklyn, TECHEETAH's Jean-Éric Vergne and DS Virgin’s Sam Bird are set to go wheel-to-wheel for the 2017/18 ABB FIA Formula E Drivers’ Championship, with the Frenchman leading the standings by 23 points.

Because of this, we have looked at Formula E’s previous season finales to get you excited for what promises to be another thrilling encounter in the fully-electric championship.

Season 1 – Nelson Piquet Jr. (NEXTEV) VS Lucas Di Grassi (Audi Sport ABT) VS Sébastien Buemi (Renault e.Dams): 2015 London ePrix

The inaugural FIA Formula E Championship was settled in the London ePrix, which was a double header held at Battersea Park.

Nelson Piquet Jr. topped the drivers’ standings on 128 points, having won the previous ePrix in Moscow. Fellow Brazilian Lucas Di Grassi was second on 111 points, with Sébastien Buemi also in title contention on 105 points.

Despite this, it was the Swiss who got the weekend off to a great start, taking the chequered flag in Race One from Pole Position. Behind him, Di Grassi collided with Piquet Jr. at the chicane on Lap 3; this proved to be decisive as Di Grassi would finish third ahead of his fellow countryman.

Regardless, Piquet Jr. still led the standing on 138 points, but was only five points ahead of Buemi, with Di Grassi a further eight back on 125 and needing both of his rivals to finish outside of the points to have a realistic chance.

 

Although Piquet Jr., di Grassi, and Buemi were the main title contenders, Bird, Prost, and d'Ambrosio had completed the Top 6 on a hard fought season // Photo by Adam Warner/LAT Photographic

When Race Two got underway, Buemi was in fifth and on course to win the title as Piquet Jr. was outside the points.

However, after the mandatory pitstop phase, Buemi spun and conceded fifth place to Bruno Senna’s Mahindra whilst further back, Piquet Jr’s energy saving had allowed the Brazilian to stay out for two extra laps and moved up to tenth.  

Shortly after this, the Virgin of Fabio Leimer had crashed at the chicane, which brought out the safety car and bunched up the field.

This benefited Piquet Jr. massively, as he managed to overtake Turvey, Salvador Duràn (Amlin Aguri) and Di Grassi to move into eighth place and become the first ever Formula E champion by a solitary point.

Season 2 – Lucas Di Grassi (Audi Sport ABT) vs. Sébastien Buemi (Renault e.Dams): 2016 London ePrix

In 2016 the Formula E circus had made its return to Battersea Park, with Lucas Di Grassi and Sébastien Buemi separated by just one point. The two drivers had dominated the season, winning three races each whilst also experiencing some bad luck along the way.

In Race One, it was first blood to Di Grassi, who claimed third place ahead of the Renault e.dams driver to extend his championship lead to three points.

The next day, Buemi responded in qualifying for Race Two and took pole position to draw level in the standings, with Di Grassi ahead on the countback rule; but at the start of Race Two, the title race took another twist.

One year after losing the title by a very close margin, Buemi had his revenge in the streets of London // Photo by: Zak Mauger/LAT/Formula E

On the approach to Turn 3 on the race start, Di Grassi moved to the racing line to brake and try to overtake Buemi’s team-mate Nico Prost. However, Buemi had already lifted off to brake, catching the Brazilian off guard, which caused the latter to crash into him.

With their cars damaged, they limped back to the pits to change into their second cars. This created the bizarre scenario of both Di Grassi and Buemi needing to record the fastest lap of the race to secure the championship.

It proved quite difficult to achieve at first, as they both struggled to find the clear track necessary for their attempts. Eventually, Buemi set the fastest lap of 1:24.582 on Lap 23 and got a step closer to the Drivers’ Title. In Contrast, Di Grassi kept pushing and with four laps to go, he set his personal best lap.

Unfortunately for him, Di Grassi was 0.051 seconds slower and to rub the salt in the wound, Buemi managed to go even faster on a 1:24.150 and become Formula E’s second champion.

Season 3 – Sébastien Buemi (Renault e.Dams) vs Lucas Di Grassi (Audi Sport ABT): 2017 Montreal ePrix

Prior to the 2017 season finale in Montreal was the double header in New York ePrix in Brooklyn, and saw Sébastien Buemi lead the drivers’ championship on 157 points for Renault e.Dams, having six of the eight races that season.

However, due to his commitments with Toyota in the FIA World Endurance Championship, Buemi was forced to skip the two races, which allowed his nearest rival Lucas Di Grassi to close the gap down to 20 points.

So, when Formula E had arrived in Canada, the pressure was on Buemi to get the job done.

Di Grassi made an almost perfect start to the weekend, winning Race One from pole position and led every lap of the race; in contrast, Buemi endured a challenging race. On the opening lap, a collision with the Andretti’s Robin Frjins broke the steering arm on his car and dropped down the order.

Later during the pit phase, Buemi got stuck behind Di Grassi’s team-mate Daniel Abt on the entry to the pit lane, with the Swiss driver feeling that Abt purposely went slower to help Di Grassi in the championship, and the two collided on the pit exit.

Then on the final lap, Buemi was involved in a tense battle with Stéphane Sarrazin for third with the Frenchman coming out on top.  In Parc Fermé, the Renault driver approached Frjins and Abt which resulted in heated exchanges.

Di Grassi obtained the championship on his third effort, a well-deserved championship for a drivr who had suppoerted the series since day one // Photo by: Sam Bloxham/LAT

To top it all off, Buemi was then disqualified for an underweight car, allowing Di Grassi to lead the championship by 18 points heading into Race Two.

Di Grassi started in fifth, whilst a mistake at Turn 1 in qualifying saw Buemi down in 14th.   

On the first lap, a crash amongst the midfield caused a Constantia effect and caused the second Andretti of Antonio Félix da Costa to hit the back of Buemi’s car.

This subsequently loosened the right-rear wheel guard and although it later came loose, Buemi was shown the black flag with an Orange disc to fix the problem and once again found himself at the back of the field.

This meant Di Grassi only needed to finish ahead of his Swiss rival to become the Season Three Champion, and went to achieve with a 7th place.

The last race of S3, was Vergne's first Formula E win. The Frenchman is now leading the standings, aiming to win the championship in New York later this month // Photo by: Sam Bloxham/LAT

Season 4 has brought us a wide range of surprises, and overall, exciting racing; which has proven once again that Formula E never disappoints.

With Vergne and Bird fighting to become the newest champion of the fully-electric championship, the results obtained by them in New York, will define who will clinch the title. We will know who this will be on Sunday 15th July.

 

Aaron Lloyd Collins

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