Three drivers… Two races… One venue…
On the 27 and 28th of June, Formula E arrives in London for the double season finale and the crowning of the first ever Formula E World Champion. Let’s take a closer look at your title contenders.
Since the controversial race-fixing incident that all but ended his Formula 1 ambitions, Nelson Piquet has been rebuilding his career in America. It was only fitting that his first Formula E win was at the Long Beach ePrix, a circuit that his father raced (and won) at – It was a race that he dominated from start to finish. He heads in the London ePrix double header knowing that he could claim the championship on Saturday – The psychological challenge this puts on Piquet will be fascinating to watch.
Piquet’s run of 5 podiums in 7 races, including two race wins, has elevated him to the top of standings, but he hasn’t had it all his own way. The opening rounds were full of disappointment – he picked up just 4 points in China and failed to finish in Malaysia after he collided with Jarno Trulli. When asked about a regret he has from the season, he singles out the incident:
‘If only I didn’t try to overtake Trulli in Putrajaya where he put in the wall! I should have known better and we would have been on the podium. The lead in the championship would have been even bigger’.
Piquet’s rise in Formula E is down to his exceptional use of the battery power available to him – he is often the fastest man on the circuit whilst using less power than those around him. After winning in Long Beach, he admitted that this was something he wasn’t experienced with and had to learn:
‘To be honest, it wasn’t something that I had experience in. I just had to learn it. I think it’s the same for most drivers’.
Whilst he hasn’t taken a pole position yet, it’s hard to imagine Piquet not scoring big points at both events and winning the first ever Formula E championship.
Lucas di Grassi
On paper, Lucas di Grassi has been the strongest and most consistent driver in Formula E’s first season. Despite not having taken a pole position or fastest lap this season, his 6 podiums, including a win at the season opener of Beijing, have made him a fan favourite and a strong contender for the race win at many circuits.
Di Grassi’s championship challenge fell apart after he was excluded from the Berlin ePrix for running a modified front wing. The win would have been his first since he inherited the race win in China, and his subsequent disqualification could prove to have huge repercussions going into the final weekend.
Speaking ahead of the race, he acknowledges that he’ll have to be aggressive going into the weekend. ‘I will have to take more risks and I will have to fight for the victory in every race, which is what we did in Moscow. In the end we will go for the win and see how the championship goes’.
Whilst Di Grassi has challenged for wins at most racetracks, he has incredibly not secured a pole position or a fastest lap yet. Nelson Piquet has taken 4 points from fastest laps so far this season, whilst Buemi has 8 points from 2 pole positions and a fastest lap. If Di Grassi wants to win this title, he’ll need to take as many additional points as possible come Saturday.
The former Toro Rosso driver has had a mixed season so far; he’s been blindingly fast on a number of occasions but also inconsistent, mirroring his performance in Formula 1. The same could be said for the e.Dams Renault team too – they emerged a clear favourites in pre-season testing but a number of driver mistakes from both Buemi and Prost have hurt their chances of taking the championship, despite the team sitting comfortably at the top of the Team Standings.
Buemi needs to win the first Battersea event on Saturday, or at worst better the result of Nelson Piquet. A deficit of 30 points come Sunday will eliminate him from the title fight and he’s already dangerously close to that, sitting 23 points behind the championship leader.
Qualifying may prove to be Buemi’s life line – he is the only championship challenger to have taken pole position (two, in fact), and track position will be vital around the tight streets of Battersea Park. e.Dams Renault have taken 4 pole positions in 9 attempts so far this year, and Saturday’s race at Battersea Park would be the perfect event for Buemi to stamp his authority over his title rivals.
Written by: Anil Parmar