It's been one hell of a ride in the ABB FIA Championship so far this season. In 10 rounds, held in nine iconic city centres spanning five continents, we've seen rookies rise, former champions fall and more than a few smashes, crashes and close calls. But we're far from finished. In just a matter of hours, all 20 drivers will line up on the start line on Brooklyn's waterfront and face the final challenge - the double-header season finale 2018 Qatar Airways New York City E-Prix on July 14 and 15.
For our two title contenders - Jean-Eric Vergne (Techeetah) and Sam Bird (DS Virgin Racing) - it's a head-to-head battle for the championship crown. No love will be lost between the two as they prepare to do battle on the 1.47-mile circuit set against the backdrop of the iconic Manhatten skyline.
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Ahead of all the action in Red Hook on July 14 and 15, here are the top five storylines to look out for in the 2018 Qatar Airways New York City E-Prix.
It's championship title crunch time
This is the moment all the teams and drivers have been waiting for. The day of reckoning as seven months hard graft comes to a conclusion in the concrete jungle that is New York City. As the championship stands, JEV sits at the top of the leaderboard with 163 points versus Sam Bird's 140 in second place. With just 23 points between them, JEV will need to score only seven points more than Bird to take the championship title on Saturday. "If I don't beat him on Saturday, then he wins the championship on Saturday - it's as simple as that. I need to beat him on Saturday to take it Sunday," says Bird ahead of the race. After he won both races here last season, the British driver's chances are looking good.
But it's not all about the drivers - up for grabs is the teams' championship title here in New York City. With Renault e.dams claiming their hattrick last season, the French manufacturer's final foray into Formula E will see them leave the championship empty-handed. Instead, it's between Techeetah (219 points) and Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler (186 points) as they battle for the top spot. Can Techeetah double up with both the drivers' and teams' championship here in New York City or will Audi round off a rollercoaster season with the ultimate prize?
Formula E's back in Brooklyn
Returning to Red Hook, Brooklyn for the second time in Formula E history, the all-electric championship transforms Red Hook's waterfront into a 1.47-mile raceway made up of 14 corners. With an extended track, adding four more corners to the circuit, the new layout could prove problematic for Sam Bird after he won both rounds on the previous layout last year. "I think it's much better than last year," says Dragon's Jerome d'Ambrosio. "That hairpin makes it more interesting and it's smooth in many places, which is good. On top of that, I love being here in New York - it's such a great place!"
Home race heroes
For MS&AD Andretti Formula E Team and Dragon, New York City is a home race for both teams, which trace their roots back to the US of A. With both teams sitting bottom of the championship - Dragon in ninth with 41 points and Andretti dead last with just 24 points - both teams will be doing all they can to save finishing last on home turf.
Goodbye to Renault
After four seasons of dominating the all-electric championship with a hattrick of teams' championships to its name, it's time to bid farewell to Renault e.dams as sister brand Nissan take up the gauntlet in Season 5. "We knew it was going to be the end of an era," says Nico Prost wistfully. "Obviously, we'd have loved to finish the season on a high but with three championship titles and 15 wins, everything that we've achieved is fantastic...thank you Renault for all you have done," added the Frenchman.
A fond farewell to the Gen1 car
But Renault isn't all we're saying goodbye too here in New York City. The moment the last car crosses the line on the Sunday, will be the final time the Gen1 cars are driven in anger. Cue nostalgic, slo-mo montage and teary-eyes. After four years of hammering around city circuits all over the world, Formula E will bid a fond farewell to the Gen 1 cars and along with them the mid-race car swaps. As electric vehicle battery technology allows for a one car race at higher power modes, Formula E’s wheel to wheel racing will see a step change in Season 5 with the introduction of the radical, new Gen2 car. You ain't seen nothing yet.
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Published on 13th July 2018