Formula E: Jean-Eric Vergne sets seal on title triumph as Audi Sport takes team crown
Jean Eric-Vergne capped a triumphant day for France by winning the final round of the Formula E championship in New York Sunday to set the seal on his title-winning season.
Football fan Vergne had earlier celebrated France’s 4-2 victory over Croatia, having wrapped up the drivers’ title on Saturday with a fighting fifth place finish from the back of the grid.
But a little of the gloss was taken off his victory as his Techeetah team lost out to Audi Sport in the teams’ championship in a nail-biting conclusion.
Techeetah’s cause was not helped by a 10-second stop go penalty for Andre Lotterer for jumping the start, leaving him down the field after starting from second on the grid.
It left Audi Sport in control with Lucas di Grassi and Daniel Abt eventually taking second and third to complete the podium.
Lotterer bravely made up ground to finish ninth, but Audi Sport was clear by two points, having started the weekend double-header trailing Techeetah by 31 points.
“After our one-two yesterday I know we were in with a fighting chance,” said Audi Sport team manager Allan McNish.
“Both drivers did a brilliant job today under different pressures,” he added
Abt, so disappointed to concede first place to teammate di Grassi in Saturday’s race, held off another former champion, polesitter Sebastien Buemi, to retain third place and ensure Audi Sport kept Techeetah at bay.
He also picked up a crucial extra point for fastest lap.
“We had a tough start to the season so to end the weekend on a high like this is something everyone can be proud of,” added the German.
Vergne, who has been an ever-present in the four seasons since Formula E started, made a lightening start from third on the grid and swept past Buemi early to take the lead he never relinquished.
He came under intense pressure from deposed champion di Grassi in the closing stages, but was not to be denied his victory.
“I am disappointed for the team we did not finish as champion, but it’s been an amazing season and to cap it with a win is the best way to end a perfect season,” he said.
Di Grassi had the added bonus of leapfrogging Britain’s Sam Bird, who finished 10th, to claim second in the championship standings.
It was the last race for the current crop of Formula E cars, with the Gen2 car being introduced for the 2018-19 season, leading to higher speeds and no mid-race car swaps because of better energy storage capacity.