Unpredictable race in New York

ABB FIA Formula E Championship 2018/19 had come to New York for the twelfth round of the season.

At the same time, it was the season’s only double weekend, so the drivers would have two chances on the track.

From the championship’s point of view, there were, however, not two chances for the competitors to chase Jean-Eric Vergne, since the defending champion came with a 32-point advantage to Lucas di Grassi in the second place.

But it was Sebastien Buemi, who took Pole Position ahead of Pascal Wehrlein, Alex Lynn, Daniel Abt and Alexander Sims. We had to look in P10 to find Vergne, and P14 to find Lucas di Grassi.

Jerome D’Ambrosio was unlucky to encounter a few technical problems in qualifying and hence had to start last.

Sebastien Buemi
Photo: NISMO

Buemi got the best start, but Lynn won a position and was up to P2 into Turn 2. Wehrlein kept losing positions and got overtaken by Sims and Abt on the second lap.

There was drama in the midfield on the second lap, where the two GEOX Dragon drivers, Jose Maria Lopez and Maximilian Günther had a collision, with a bit of help from Sam Bird. Suddenly, there was a queue in front of Jean-Eric Vergne, who drove into a parked car, which Andre Lotterer had to avoid. Lotterer got hit from behind by Lucas di Grassi, so the German had a spin and damaged the front of his car.

So all of a sudden, both Techeetah cars were in the pits for a new nose, which could affect their position in both championships. Vergne rejoined the field in P19 and Lotterer in P21.

Jean-Eric Vergne
Photo: ABB FIA Formula E

Lucas di Grassi drove slowly but surely forward and was up to tenth place after about fifteen minutes.

The stewards chose to give Sam Bird a ten-second time penalty for initiating a collision with Lopez and Günther. Thus his P6 seemed unlikely, even though he was currently still in that position.

Lynn put Buemi under intense pressure, and the two of them had used their two Attack Modes already after twenty minutes of the race. Sims in third place chose to save his a bit longer.

Felipe Massa did a very late dive on Gary Paffett, in the duel for P11. Paffett saw the Brazilian come, so he kindly pulled to the side. But Massa outbraked himself so much that he blocked both his own and Paffett’s exit from the corner, making it possible for Edoardo Mortara to overtake them both, and Rowland to drive past poor Paffett.

Daniel Abt
Photo: ABB FIA Formula E

Stoffel Vandoorne, Lucas di Grassi, Daniel Abt, Sebastien Buemi and Antonio Felix da Costa were the five drivers who got Fan Boost in this race.

Twenty-two minutes before the finish, Sims took his last Attack Mode. A few corners later, Lynn’s Jaguar went to the limp-home program as the electronic got overheated. So there went his potential podium finish.

Sims exploited his Attack Mode to close the gap to Buemi.

Sam Bird hadn’t lost courage despite his time penalty, and he overtook Pascal Wehrlein in the battle for P4. Shortly afterwards, Antonio Felix da Costa and Mitch Evans also drove past the German, who started the race in P2 and was now in P7.

Antonio Felix da Costa
Photo: ABB FIA Formula E

But there was a Safety Car period soon after that, to get Lynn’s car removed. It also meant that everyone got close again, and the drivers with remaining Fan Boost had a possibility to save theirs until the restart, giving them some extra power against the rest of the competitors.

It was the case with Abt, Gunther and Vergne, with the extra power.

Abt went under pressure by Sims and went a bit off the track, so Sims, Evans, da Costa, Bird, Wehrlein, Günther, and di Grassi could get past.

The Safety Car period benefited Vergne as he was up to P14, not long from the points.

Evans outbraked Sims in the battle for the second place.

Bird began to fall back again, and it didn’t help that he oubraked himself in the hairpin. He lost a position to Wehrlein, which he regained one lap afterwards.

There was an incident further down the field, where Oliver Rowland had contact with Edoardo Mortara. It damaged both cars, and Mortara had to retire in the pits.

Felipe Massa
Photo: ABB FIA Formula E

Vergne had saved his Attack Mode to the very last, which send him a couple of places forward, and he was now in the points.

There was yet another drama on the ultimate lap when Vergne, Lotterer, Massa, Vandoorne, D’Ambrosio and Rowland ended up in a big pile. Vergne attempted to overtake Massa, but the Brazilian won the place back. After that, Vergne brushed the wall, hit Massa, and spun him around. Then Lotterer, Vandoorne, D’Ambrosio and Rowland came from behind and drove into the two stranded cars. All six could, however, entangle themselves and cross the finish line.

D’Ambrosio got a five-second time penalty for pushing a bit too hard against Gary Paffett earlier in the race.

Sebastien Buemi won the race, ahead of Mitch Evans, Antonio Felix da Costa, Alexander Sims, Lucas di Grassi and Daniel Abt. It is the first victory for Nissan e.dams, and the first for Buemi in two years.

Jean-Eric Vergne keeps the lead in the championship, with Lucas di Grassi in the second place, Evans in third, and Buemi in fourth.

The deciding race in ABB FIA Formula E Championship 2018/19 will be run on Sunday, in New York. Will it be as entertaining as today?

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