Close race on narrow Swiss track

Round 11 of ABB FIA Formula E Championship 2018/19 was run in the Swiss town of Bern.

It’s the second year a row where the city hosts a Formula E race, but it was a completely different track compared to last year. The track this year was much narrower, so the drivers knew beforehand that the qualifying would be important – even more important than usual in the electric series.

Championship leader Jean-Eric Vergne had taken Pole Position, ahead of Mitch Evans, Sebastien Buemi, Pascal Wehrlein, Maximilian Günther, Sam Bird, Daniel Abt and the third placed driver in the championship, Andre Lotterer.

Number two in the Championship, Lucas di Grassi had a very bad qualifying, and was starting all the way back in 19th.

Jean-Eric Vergne
Photo: ABB FIA Formula E

The drivers only got a couple of hundred metres, before there was carnage.

Robin Frijns was spun around, going into the first corner, and was facing the oncoming traffic. There was another accident at the same time involving Pascal Wehrlein, who was turned around by Maximilian Günther, which started an according effet, with people like Andre Lotterer crashing into the rear of Sam Bird.

Race control decide to stop the race, with all the drivers being led back to the pitlane, so the order could be restored.

Miraculously, only Frijns had to retire from the race, while everybody else was able to go back to the pits with various kind of damage to their cars.

Lucas di Grassi was one of the big winners of the start, having made it into 8th.

After almost 45 minutes of the race, we finally had the cars back on the track, with race control option to restore the original starting order. So di Grassi was kicked back to P19, which actually was was 18th since we had Frijns out of the race.

The cars started after the Safety Car, with the original starting order back in place, before the Safety Car left the track and the race went green.

Stoffel Vandoorne, Antonio Felix da Costa, Sebastien Buemi, Daniel Abt and Lucas di Grassi were the 5 drivers who received Fan Boost for this round.

Lap 1 crash
Photo: ABB FIA Formula E

Edoardo Mortara made a desperate move on Alexander Sims. Mortara dived very late, hit Sims and pushed the Englishman off the track. Oliver Turvery was able to jump past both of them.

Jerome D’Ambrosio got a drive-through penalty for causing a collision.

Both Gary Paffett and Edoardo Mortara had to pit with technical issues with the car. Paffett did rejoin the track, but was dead last.

After 15 minutes of race, we lost Wehrlein from the race, who had to retire with a technical issue.

Evans dived into Attack Mode, but didn’t make it past Vergne, before the Frenchman took Attack Mode himself, one lap later.

The stranded car of Wehrlein had to be removed, so a Full Course Yellow was needed.

Andre Lotterer managed to overtake Daniel Abt in the fight for 6th, by using Attack Mode.

The teammate of Abt, di Grassi, was moving forward in the field, and was all the way up to 11th but had a 3-second gap to Stoffel Vandoorne in P10.

Lotterer quickly grabbed another spot by overtaking Maximilian Günther, getting into fifth position.

Oliver Rowland had to pit with 12 minutes left of the race, due to technical issues with the car.

Jose Maria Lopez was investigated for having used too much power, while Antonio Felix da Costa was investigated for driving too fast during the Full Course Yellow period.

Lotterer had managed to close the gap to Bird, by using Attack Mode, and then put the Brit under a lot of pressure, by showing his car in both the inside and outside. That paid off since Bird made a mistake, and had to give up fourth to the German.

Maximilian Günther
Photo: ABB FIA Formula E

Lucas di Grassi made it into 10th in the race, and was therefore into the points.

Lotterer put Buemi under a lot of pressure in the fight for the last podium spot.

To add a bit of extra spice, it started raining with three minutes to go. That resulted in top 4 getting squeezed together.

Vergne was driving slower and slower, so the three cars behind had to be very careful not to crash into the rear of the French driver.

But the extremely narrow track made it possible for Jean-Eric Vergne to win, even with reduced speed, ahead of Mitch Evans and Sebastien Buemi.

The stewards decided after the race that Andre Lotterer should have a 22 seconds time penalty, because he left the pits at red light, when the race was stopped. That resulted in Lotterer dropping from P4 to P14 and out of the points.

Jose Maria Lopez was disqualified from the race from excessive power usage.

Edoardo Mortara will start 5 places further back than his qualifying result in New York due to his clash with Alexander Sims.

And Antonio Felix da Costa got a 5 seconds penalty for speeding under Full Course Yellow.

With the result from today’s race, Vergne was able to extend his Championship lead to 32 points, ahead of Lucas di Grassi and Mitch Evans. Andre Lotterer was originally slated to be in P2, but due to the lost points he is fourth.

DS Techeetah also extended their lead in the Teams Championship, while Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler sits second, and Envision Virgin Racing is third, just nine points ahead of Nissan e.dams.

The 32 points lead means Jean-Eric Vergne can secure the Championship in the first of two New York races, which are the final rounds of the season. The event will happen 13-14 July 2019.

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