19 Jul 19
10 Jul 19
For the third year running, we’re back in the Big Apple and – after one of the most unpredictable seasons to date – bigger and better than ever. Ahead of all the action in the epic, double-header season finale in Red Hook Brooklyn on July 13 and 14, here are 10 things you probably didn’t know about the race in New York City.
New York’s origins date back to the early 17th century when founded by colonists from the Dutch Republic and named New Amsterdam. After the English seized control in 1664, the city was renamed after the Duke of York, later King James II before serving as the country’s capital for a short time in the late 18th Century.
Now the most populous city in the United States, it has just under eight and a half million residents, with approximately 20 million living in the wider New York Metropolitan Area. Situated on one of the world's largest natural harbours, New York City comprises five county-level administrative divisions called boroughs, namely Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, The Bronx, and Staten Island, which came together to form a single city in 1898. Brooklyn has the largest borough by population, with just over 2.6 million inhabitants.
New York has been described as the cultural, financial, and media capital of the world, and has the highest number of billionaires of any city on the planet. It is also considered by many to be the world’s most photographed city. The Big Apple is famous for its numerous attractions, not least the iconic Statue of Liberty, a sculpture of the Roman goddess, Libertas, made from copper with its metal framework built by Gustave Eiffel, and a gift from the people of France.
Believe it or not, the nickname actually does have a connection with racing, but of the four-legged variety. Although its first recorded use was from a 1909 book titled The Wayfarer in New York, it gained popularity in the 1920s after John J. Fitz Gerald, a New York City newspaper reporter, made regular mention of the term in a number of horse-racing articles. By the next decade, it had become current within Jazz circles. Essentially it meant if you played in the ‘Big Apple’ you’d made it and become successful. After it then faded, the nickname grew again in popularity in the 1970s, as part of a marketing campaign to spruce up New York’s image during an economic downturn aimed at enticing tourists to the city. Visitors were invited to take a bite out of the Big Apple and the name has since stuck.
With a track offering views of the Lower Manhattan skyline and the Statue of Liberty, Formula E returns to one of New York’s most exciting, fast-developing neighbourhoods, Red Hook, Brooklyn, for the third successive year. And, for the second straight season, the waterfront location plays host to the season finale. Featuring a 14-turn track spanning just under 1.5 miles (2.373 km).
Two teams will be hoping for success at their home E-Prix. Both Dragon and Andretti have been part of the all-electric series since the start back in 2014 and, although Andretti’s partners BMW became the official works entry team ahead of the 2017/18 season, the outfit will again race in New York under the American flag. Although Dragon has yet to make the podium on home soil, Andretti claimed a couple of second place finishes in the first season – courtesy of Scott Speed in Miami in March 2015 and Jean-Eric Vergne in Long Beach in April 2015.
In the history of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship, there have been seven races in the United States to date. Miami staged the first E-Prix on American soil in the 2014/15 season on March 14, 2015, which was won by Renault’s Nico Prost. The next two took place in Long Beach in California, with wins for Nelson Piquet Jr. and Lucas di Grassi, followed by the two New York double-headers (Sam Bird won the first two NYC races, before last year’s victories for Lucas di Grassi and Jean-Eric Vergne).
Despite changes to the course over the years, Pierre Gasly set the 2017 lap record (1:02.080) during group qualifying for Race 2 at the first New York double-header two years ago on a shorter track. The Frenchman was deputising for seasoned Formula E driver Sebastien Buemi, who had committed to driving the 6 Hours of Nurburgring that weekend. Last season, the track length increased slightly by 0.26 miles (0.42 km), when Mitch Evans set the lap record (1:13.207) during Practice 2 in the first round of the double-header.
The big question heading into New York for the 2018/19 season climax is whether reigning Formula E champion Jean-Eric Vergne will become the first driver in the history of the all-electric series to successfully defend his title. With a 32-point lead on Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler’s Lucas di Grassi, it’s going down to the wire in Brooklyn. Will Vergne clinch his second consecutive title or will the pressure prove too much?
Eight drivers still mathematically have a chance of lifting the title, but it would take a brave punter to bet against Vergne, who’s won three of the last six races, and secured three consecutive podium finishes (two of them with victories). With 58 points still up for grabs, Lucas di Grassi in second place (currently 32 points adrift) will feel he still has a chance of beating Vergne in becoming the first repeat champion in the history of the all-electric series.