13 Jul 19
12 races, 12 cities, nine different winners from eight different teams and five continents. It's fair to say, the 2018/19 ABB FIA Formula E Championship has been the best yet. But it's far from over. After a chaotic and unpredictable race on the streets of Brooklyn delt firm favourite Jean-Eric Vergne a devastating blow, once again it's going down to the wire in the final race of the season. Ahead of the final day, we weigh up each of the four contenders' chances of winning the championship.
For DS Techeetah's Jean-Eric Vergne, the Frenchman was half expecting to be heading home from day one of the double-header with the Championship trophy in hand. With a 32 point lead on nearest rival Lucas di Grassi, it looked all but certain that he'd go down in history as the series' first driver to seal a second consecutive title in New York City. But, after a chaotic race on the streets of Brooklyn, the Frenchman was left broken after a brutal last lap crash with Felipe Massa destroyed any chance of scoring points.
"I'm feeling pretty disappointed with the race today, but it is motorsport - you have good days and and bad days," said the reigning champ.
"The incident with Massa, I went down the inside like I did for nearly all the drivers I overtook in the race.
"We touched and my car was destabilised and I went wide and he passed me again and then I was next to him in the corner.
"And then he did not leave me any room, I was breaking but I had the wall and his car, so we collided," he explained.
Now, Vergne retains his top spot, although the points gap separating him and di Grassi has been reduced from 32 to just 22 points - less than a race win. In the final race, Vergne must score eight points to win the championship, which means he needs to place at least sixth.
For Audi Sport Abt Scheaffler driver Lucas di Grassi, the Brazilian finds himself in familiar territory after the penultimate race. "Every year we are here fighting for the title. I'm pretty proud of that," said the former champ. After he picked up his first Formula E Championship title at the end of the 2015/16 season, di Grassi is just as hungry for the title as his main opponent Vergne.
Just 22 points separate him from the leader. Before the race today, that gap was 32 points. Picking up 10 valuable points from a fifth place finish, di Grassi emerged from the first battle for Brooklyn unscathed but, crucially, better placed to chase down the title in the final on Sunday. "I'm 22 points behind, so I just have to win the race tomorrow. It's super simple," said the Audi driver.
After scoring his first win in Rome earlier this season, Panasonic Jaguar Racing's Mitch Evans is the first to admit he didn't expect to find himself in the hunt for the Championship title with one race left of the season. "If it was after Mexico, Hong Kong or Sanya, I'd have said there's no chance of me being contention for the title," admitted the Kiwi.
"But, since Rome, we've had a huge turnaround - the team has given me a car that's back in the window and we've been working hard to keep it in that sweet spot."
I need a Pole and a win tomorrow to win the Championship but, as we saw today, it's absolute mayhem out there so anything is possible," said Evans.
"I'm really happy to still have a chance at the Championship tomorrow, even if it's going to be really difficult," said Nissan e.dams' Sebastien Bumei after winning the penultimate race of the season in New York City - his first win in 31 Formula E races. "In the middle of the season, I never thought I would be here - everything was going wrong." Starting from Pole, Buemi led in what was a hectic race in Brooklyn, managing to steer clear of any trouble unfolding behind him.
Before the New York showdown, the Swiss driver was 54 points adrift of Championship leader Jean-Eric Vergne. Now, he's just 26 points off levelling up with the Frenchman and earning 27 points tomorrow could see him clinch his second championship title in New York City. "I need to get a pole and win to be in with a chance," said the Nissan driver.