The final race of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship 2017/18 season was run at the harbour area of Brooklyn in New York, giving the drivers an extra challenge in the qualifying.
It had been raining Sunday morning, and the track was slowly drying, so it got faster and faster for each qualifying segment.
That was of course a handicap for the first group of drivers on the track, who were all significantly slower than the rest of the drivers.
But Sebastien Buemi was the fastest driver for the second day in a row while Andre Lotterer, Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniel Abt all started right behind. Lucas di Grassi was also taking part in the Super Pole, but made an error and clattered the wall, so he didn’t post a time.
Sam Bird had a marginally better starting position today with a P8, right in front of Felix Rosenqvist.
Alex Lynn and Antonio Felix da Costa were the last two drivers on the starting grid, since both had to change the gearbox on their cars.
The track was evacuated until one hour before the race start due to lightning in the area. The US rules state that everybody has to be indoor, when it’s within a certain range of the circuit, putting a stop to all activities on a around the circuit.
Fortunately the weather cleared, so the teams and the track were ready for the planned race start, with only a few puddles left here and there, but mainly dry tarmac.
Vergne got the best start and flew past Buemi even before Turn 1. Buemi did try to squeeze the Frenchman all the way into the wall, but that didn’t work for him. Buemi still managed to keep Lotterer behind. Lotterer tried to outbrake Buemi on the second lap, but was almost outbraking himself instead, but was able to get back in line.
Lotterer made it past Buemi with a nice overtaking manoeuvre, that eventually did stick.
Both Lotterer and Vergne was under investigation for a Jump Start, since the two potentially moved a split second before the red lights had extinguished.
Tom Dillmann had to pit very early, and was thereby out of the race with a mechanical issue.
There was drama on Lap 6 in two different locations on the track. First we had Jose Maria Lopez parking his car with a broken rear suspension. Shortly after, Jerome D’Ambrosio and Luca Filippi collided. Filippi had already been in contact with Antonio Felix da Costa at that point, but the Portuguese driver was the only one who could continue in the race, while the two others retired. Antonio Felix da Costa was judged to be the responsible for the collision, and was handed a 10 seconds Stop & Go penalty.
As a result, we got a Full Course Yellow, while all the cars had to be cleared.
Lotterer was handed a 10 seconds Stop & Go penalty for a jump start, sending him out of the fight for a podium. But there was no further action on Vergne.
After 9 minutes of FCY, the race went green again.
Lotterer instantly went to the pits to serve his penalty.
di Grassi swiftly made it past Buemi, and started chasing down JEV in the lead.
Maro Engel had to pit after 14 laps, when he got an issue with his first car. The mechanics tried to fix it and send him back out, but shortly after he was back in again and parked the car. That was both Venturi Formula E cars out of the race – a shame, after their 4th place finish yesterday by Dillmann.
Sebastien Buemi, Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniel Abt were the three drivers who were awarded with Fan Boost.
Daniel Abt made it into third on the 19th lap of the race, while di Grassi was still putting Vergne under pressure.
It was a split strategy between several of the teams. Abt, Rosenqvist, Evans, Heidfeld and Bird pitted on Lap 22 while the rest of the field waited for one more lap. It didn’t make any change in Top 4, where Vergne, di Grassi, Abt and Buemi all kept their positions.
Rosenqvist made it past Evans during their pitstop, and even had a 1,5 second lead.
Buemi made it back past Abt on Lap 27. Only two laps later, we saw that reversed once again.
Mitch Evans was heading for potential troubles, having Nick Heidfeld and Nelson Piquet Jr. breathing down his neck.
With just three laps to go, there was more excitement in the Teams Championship, when Andre Lotterer made it back into Top 10, and heading for important points, trying to win the Teams Championship. One lap later, Lotterer also passed Bird.
Piquet Jr. finally made it past Heidfeld in the fight for 7th.
Jean-Eric Vergne won the race ahead of Lucas di Grassi, Daniel Abt and Sebastien Buemi.
Jean-Eric Vergne also won the Drivers Championship ahead of Lucas di Grassi and Sam Bird, who was overtaken in the very final race of the season. Sebastien Buemi finished 4th ahead of Daniel Abt and Felix Rosenqvist, who had appeared to be the main competition to Vergne early in the season. But the Mahindra team went completely backwards in the second half of the season, which was clear by Rosenqvist having scored 79 of his 98 points in the first half.
The results also meant that Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler won the Teams Championship ahead of Techeetah, DS Virgin Racing and Mahindra Racing, while the Champion for the first 3 seasons, Renault e.dams, finished on a disappointing 5th. Of course they had Buemi down the standings in the Drivers Championship, but the main reason was Nico Prost, who only scored 8 points through the whole season.
So that was the end of the 4th season of ABB FIA Formula Championship. Season 5 starts on 15 December in Saudi Arabia, where there will be new teams, new drivers and new combinations of the above.
Congrats to Jean-Eric Vergne and Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler.