Just Electric

New York, New York: Buemi wins as Vergne crashes out in chaotic race

Nissan e.dams’ Sebastien Buemi took his first win of the season – and first for almost two years – on the streets of New York in the penultimate race of the Formula E’s fifth season.

The win for Buemi keeps him in championship contention, as he is now 26 points behind championship leader Jean-Eric Vergne (DS Techeetah) with 29 points on offer in tomorrow’s season finale.

Vergne had a disastrous race, not scoring any points at all, meaning that not only Buemi but also both Lucas di Grassi (Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler) and Mitch Evans (Jaguar Racing) are still able to take the title tomorrow.

Buemi had qualified on pole and led the race from the start, with both Vergne and di Grassi losing a few places early on after starting 10th and 14th respectively.

Disaster struck for Vergne early on; a collision between Envision Virgin’s Sam Bird and Dragon Racing’s Jose Maria Lopez – for which Bird received a 10 second time penalty – caused a pile-up which led to Vergne being rear-ended by team-mate Andre Lotterer. Both DS Techeetah cars had to pit after that incident.

Battles continued up and down the field, with di Grassi starting to make his way up the field after his sluggish start, reaching the top ten with a pass on Robin Frijns.

A tight battle raged on at the front, as Buemi came under pressure from Alex Lynn and Alexander Sims, but he held firm in his defence and didn’t let the British drivers through.

Lynn then pulled over at the side of the track and had to retire his Jaguar due to a mechanical issue, bringing out a safety car which bunched the field up.

After the restart, Evans moved up to third place before then passing Sims for second, as he kept his title hopes alive with some aggressive overtaking.

Vergne was 17th under the safety car, but after the restart started to make his way up the field, eventually reaching 10th place with just a few laps to go, with fastest lap to boot.

It all kicked off on the final lap as Vergne tried to pass Felipe Massa, as the DS Techeetah and Venturi cars collided, damaging Vergne’s car and putting him out of the points.

Buemi sealed a lights-to-flag win at the front of the field to take his first win since Berlin in 2017, while Evans’ brave overtaking was rewarded with second place. Antonio Felix da Costa was third after passing team-mate Sims late on, while Sims held on to fourth ahead of di Grassi who was fifth.

Rounding out the top ten were Daniel Abt, Pascal Wehrlein, Sam Bird (after his penalty was applied), Jerome d’Ambrosio and Oliver Turvey, who finally gave the NIO squad something to cheer after a tough season.

So the title battle goes on to the season finale tomorrow, with Vergne (130 points) leading di Grassi (108), Evans (105) and Buemi (104) going into that race.

Vergne is still the favourite to take the title -  but after today’s drama, and some of the legendary season finales we’ve already seen in Formula E in the past, who’d bet against an even crazier finish to the season tomorrow?

 

Laurence Thorn

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