I don’t believe in fate. I think the world is an abundance of chaos that we all try and surf our way through as best we can. But I do believe in luck. I am lucky that in 2014 I was a young commentator who no one had heard of, just when Formula E decided they needed a young commentator who no one had heard of. In motorsport, they say you make your own luck but on the basis of this season so far I simply don’t believe that when I look at the fortunes of three of the drivers in the field.
The first is Nissan's Sacha Fenestraz. The rookie impressed us all with his qualifying in the first race of the season in Mexico City, and would have scored points were it not for a technical failure in the closing laps. Admittedly, he and the team were off the pace in Diriyah, but he then stuck the car fourth on the grid in Hyderabad.
I’m not convinced the Nissan has the efficiency to be contending for outright race victories, but Fenestraz was running fourth in India, and was certainly in contention for a strong finish, until the two Jaguars collided. It was actually Sam Bird taking evasive manoeuvres to avoiding hitting Fenestraz that sent him in to his Jaguar TCS Racing teammate Mitch Evans, but the Frenchman was stuck in a traffic jam on the exit of the hairpin, and his race was ruined.
Two weeks later, and he has had another superb qualifying performance to take his first Julius Baer pole position. Lining up at the front of the grid in Cape Town, the Nissan’s lack of efficiency showed again, but Fenestraz held on to the front pack and was running in third with half a lap to go. A controversial collision with Envision Racing's Nick Cassidy followed, sending Fenestraz into the wall.
He wouldn’t be a championship front-runner were it not for this bad luck, but he would certainly be in the top ten in the standings. Nevertheless, it’s been an impressive rookie year and one that will give him great confidence for the remainder of the season, if the luck starts to go his way.
Jaguar's difficult spell is hiding car's potential
The other duo that have been unlucky this season are the aforementioned Jaguar TCS drivers Sam Bird and Mitch Evans. Admittedly, there is a bit more nuance to this than with Fenestraz. Bird had reliability issues in Mexico, before a strong weekend in Diriyah, but there’s no doubt that Hyderabad was his mistake.
Equally, Cape Town is a tricky one to judge, but he did seem unfortunate to get caught up in Edo Mortara’s qualifying incident. The team couldn’t get the car ready for the race, so he will have to serve his five place grid penalty for the Evans collision this weekend in Sao Paulo.
Evans himself has also not been blessed with luck this year, but again some is the team’s doing. He has the joint strongest qualifying average on the grid – 4.6 – but has collected just 14 points. The first three races were alright, scoring points at each of them, but the fact that he led the opening laps of the second Diriyah race meant a seventh place finish was disappointing.
Then, from pole he was running third in Hyderabad when Bird wiped him out, and then while running at the front of the order in Cape Town a penalty for overpower knocked him out of contention. I would still suggest that the Jaguar is the best package overall this season, but due to a huge chunk of bad luck – and admittedly driver and team mistakes – they haven’t been able to put it together yet.
I don’t see Fenestraz mounting a title fight. I think he’ll collect some strong results as the season progresses if the luck starts to go his way, but I’m not convinced the Nissan is quick enough. But as we are only one third of the way through the season there’s still the outside chance of a title challenge for Bird and Evans, if luck ends up finally on their side.