Before starting its European tour, the ABB FIA Formula E Championship once again proved that it is one of a kind. Because title defender Jean-Éric Vergne’s (first) victory this season demonstrated an impressive diversity balance: six races were won by six different drivers in six different teams in cars with drives from five different manufacturers. Now the new elite diversity class is coming to Europe for the especially significant five “voestalpine European Races.”
From when it started on December 15, 2018, and until after the race weekend in Sanya, Formula E has had as many different winners as the Formula 1 winning teams have had since May 13, 2012 (GP Spain) and the Formula 1 drive manufacturers have had since August 6, 2006 (GP Hungary), i.e. over the past 13 years all together.
The comeback of the champion
Jean-Eric Vergne has had a difficult time. After setting a record by placing in the points in 20 races in a row, he didn’t score a single point in the next three races. Until, with perfect timing, he won again—in China, the home of his team DS Techeetah Formula E Team. Against the long-leading Nissan e.dams driver Oliver Rowland—thanks to a very well prepared overtaking maneuver. He tricked the young star with his experience:
"I tried to overtake him for a very long time. But never in a particular place that I had my eye on. I only tried it there when I had the feeling that it would work. I guess I surprised him."
The success of JEV, as everyone calls him, is a very special success for DS Techeetah, and not only because it was achieved at home: it is the first success achieved together with new partner DS Automobiles and its drives. Team boss Mark Preston is relieved: “This victory was long overdue.” Also because Vergne’s teammate André Lotterer, who had been leading in Hong Kong, was “eliminated” by Sam Bird.
The table drama
A glance at the ABB FIA Formula E Championship results will make fans all around the world rave. And shiver with excitement. After six of 13 races, i.e. right before the halftime race, both the driver and team championships are incredibly competitive. Among the drivers, António Félix da Costa (BMW i Andretti Motorsport) leads with 62 points ahead of Jérôme D’Ambrosio (Envision Virgin Racing, 61). And close behind: 3rd Bird (Envision Virgin Racing) 54, 4th Vergne (DS Techeetah) 54, 5th di Grassi (Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler) 52, 6th Mortara (Venturi Formula E Team) 52, 7th Abt (Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler) 44, 8th Frijns (Envision Virgin Racing) 43, 9th Lotterer (DS Techeetah) 41.
Eleven drivers could theoretically take the lead in the championship after the next race in Rome—exactly 50 percent of all participants. The team championship is even tighter: 1st Virgin 97, 2nd Mahindra Racing 97, 3th Audi 96, 4th DS Techeetah 95. A unique performance density in racing.
Return of the favorites
One might have thought that there was a secret reset button for driver souls in the beautiful beach town of Sanya. Because the drivers who had the most reason to rejoice were the two drivers who at the beginning of the season and after the first race were considered the top favorites for the championship: Vergne, and BMW driver António Félix da Costa. Following a few disappointments after becoming the first leader of the season with his victory in Saudi Arabia, the Portuguese driver regained his championship lead with a third place showing.
Looking forward to the “voestalpine European Races”
When Formula E begins its tour of five of Europe’s most beautiful cities in Rome on 13 April, history will be written once again – with the “voestalpine European Races” taking place in the “Eternal City.” Using pioneering 3D technology of voestalpine, the company will present the best driver with a special award following the conclusion of the highly-anticipated “voestalpine European Races.”
In Vienna on April 4, 2019 , the trophy will be official presented at a press conference.