23 Jun 19

Bern analysis: 'Crazy' track creates 'chaos' as  Vergne closes win, di Grassi still 'fights for the title' ahead of grand finale

Reigning champ Jean-Eric Vergne extends his lead in sensational win on Swiss streets while home race hero Buemi secures another podium despite 'chaos' in the capital. After all the action in the final round of the voestalpine European races, here's the highs, lows and blows from the 2019 Julius Baer Swiss E-Prix in Bern.

It’s Jean-Eric’s Bern – and potentially his second title too

"I arrived here like a zombie but nevertheless, I think the team helped me massively to do a good job," said DS Techeetah's Jean-Eric Vergne, moments after securing his third victory this season in the historic city of Bern.

Before the showdown on the Swiss capital's streets, Vergne's lead was just six points. Now, he's a full 32 points ahead of his main rival Lucas di Grassi in second. In short, the reigning ABB FIA Formula E title-holder looks to have one hand on a second Drivers’ Championship title before he's even touched down in New York City. But, as we know from experience, nothing is certain in the world of all-electric racing. In the Frenchman's own words, "nothing is comfortable in Formula E, everything can change so quickly. 

"It’s a good lead, it’s a bigger lead that the one I had last year at this point but I’m not thinking about [the Championship title] too much."

After a mid-season wobble, which saw him endure three 'pointless' races, Vergne has looked imperious at the business end of the season with three podiums in a row – including two victories.  

"I’ll arrive in New York with the same wish to win the race and do the job - it's as simple as that," said the new winner of the voestalpine European races, confidently. 

Di Grassi will 'never give up' despite setback 

"Qualifying was crap," said Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler driver Lucas di Grassi bluntly. "We misjudged how bad the track was and being the first one out, my lap was not good. I did some mistakes here and there and I started 19th...if you Qualify at the back you're f*cked."

Strong words, from the former champ but understandably so. Before Bern, the gap between di Grassi and Championship leader Jean-Eric Vergne was just six points. Now, after a shocker in the Swiss capital, the gap has widened to 32, with Vergne still leading and di Grassi in second. With two rounds left, the Brazilian is still set on clinching his second Championship title in New York City. 

"Until the mathematical odds are impossible, I'm going to fight for the title - I'm never going to give up.

"JEV is under pressure - he has to deliver and I'm going to go [to New York], have fun and try to win both races," said di Grassi, glancing over at the Championship leader with a determined glare.

Home race hero secures emotional podium but drought drags on 

"This one was a good one - especially at home with my son," said Nissan e.dams' Sebastien Buemi after stepping off the podium with his son at his home race in Bern. "If there's anywhere you want a podium, it's at home. I'm really happy with how things unfolded today and I'm happy with the team as well."
 
Despite two podiums back to back for Buemi, the former champ's drought of all-out wins has stretched for 30 races. But, with the most wins out of all the drivers - 12 in total - Buemi is still the most successful driver in the series' history.

"Obviously, not having a win [in 30 races] impacts me. If I had the luck I had now earlier in the season, we could have won Santiago or Paris. But we'll keep pushing and look forward to the next one. 

"I'm going to New York knowing we can do it and we can fight," he said with a smile.

'Crazy' track turns into 'chaos' in hardest race yet  

"It's not just the incline that's crazy - it's the change in tarmac, the camber of the road - stuff that you normally don't encounter in any other race series," said Envision Virgin Racing's Sam Bird describing the track ahead of the race in Bern. "It's crazy, it's fun - it's going to be a cool challenge." 

For Panasonic Jaguar Racing's Mitch Evans, it was simply, "a real, hardcore street circuit...with lots of character, surface and elevation changes."

bern formula e track

Now, with the dust settled on the 2.750km, 14-turn track, Evans reflected on the city street circuit following his second place finish and second podium in his Formula E career. 

"I was expecting it to be slightly easier to overtake... but with the rain at the end - it was just chaos," said the Kiwi.  

"It came down really hard and it was completely out of the blue. Turn 3 was wet and that's exactly what you don't want. To predict the braking zone was extremely hard. It was going to be playing with fire if I tried to have a go at [Jean-Eric Vergne]." 

Finishing behind Evans was home race hero and Nissan e.dams driver Sebastien Buemi. Ahead of the race, Buemi was fresh from a podium finish in Berlin and a win in the 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race less than a week ago. Despite competing in the all-electric series since its inception, the seasoned driver still found the Swiss streets to be one of his biggest challenges.   

"Despite having been here from the start, I'd say this race was the hardest yet - it was great fun to drive," said the Swiss driver with a smile.   

New York City race city icon

Next up, we're heading to New York City for Formula E's double-header finale