Aided by a dramatic overtake, newly crowned ABB Formula E champion Jean-Eric Vergne ended the season with a victory in the second race on the streets of Brooklyn, N.Y.
Vergne gained two places by cutting through traffic, jumping from third place into the lead on the first lap. By Lap 6, his Techeetah teammate Andre Lotterer had passed Sebastien Buemi to move up into second place, directly behind Vergne. However, both Techeetah entries were under investigation for jump starts, and the FIA ultimately handed Lotterer a 10-second stop-and-go penalty. For recently crowned champion Vergne, no further action was taken.
Just minutes into the race Dragon Racing’s Jose Maria Lopez stopped on track appearing to have broken his rear suspension. Only seconds later, further up the grid, NIO Formula E Team’s Luca Filipi attempted to overtake MS&AD Andretti Formula E’s Antonio da Felix Costa, making contact with the Andretti car before drifting across and colliding with Jerome d’Ambrosio, putting the second Dragon car out of action.
Racing resumed on Lap 11 with Vergne out in front. With Lotterer temporarily out of the picture, Lucas di Grassi took Buemi to move up into second followed by Buemi and Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler’s Daniel Abt in fourth.
After an investigation following the earlier collision between da Costa, Filippi and d’Ambrosio, da Costa received a 10-second stop and go penalty,
On Lap 20, Abt chased his teammate di Grassi, overtaking Buemi in the process to move up to second. With both Audi’s in the lead, another one-two for the German manufacturer looked well within reach.
With the cars coming in for Formula E’s last ever car swap on Lap 23 and 24, the top of drivers maintained their positions with Vergne in lead, di Grassi in second, Abt in third and Buemi in fourth.
Now into the second half of the race, Lotterer loitered in 12th, struggling to make up for lost ground owing to his earlier penalty. With Vergne in the lead and Lotterer 11 places behind, Techeetah looked set to lose the lead it once had in the teams’ championship standings.
Buemi, determined to make the podium on his last race for Renault, blasted past Abt using his Fanboost to take third on Lap 26.
At the front, it was outgoing champion (di Grassi) versus the newly crowned champion Vergne as the two battled for the win in the Season 4 finale.
Further down the pack, Evans had maintained his sixth place by lap 33, with Mahindra Racing’s Nick Heidfeld separating him from his teammate Nelson Piquet Jr. in eighth place.
Working together, just as they said they would ahead of the race, both Jaguar drivers hunted Heidfeld, determined to finish a rocky season as close to the top of the standings as possible.
Reminiscent of the battle for Punta del Este earlier in the season, Vergne defended multiple attacks from di Grassi as the two fought ferociously for the last win of the season.
Making contact with the back of Vergne’s car, di Grassi continued to push the Frenchman with less than five laps to go. Meanwhile, Vergne’s teammate Lotererer was working hard at the back of the pack to make up places and, crucially, points. Climbing up into 10th, the German driver moved up into points territory. On the attack once again, Lotterer passed Bird on the back straight, climbing up into ninth.
Approaching the final straight, both the Audis crossed the line in second and third behind race leader Vergne, clinching the teams’ championship title by just two points after a rollercoaster of a season.
“We didn’t realize we had a chance until we got the first and second yesterday — it’s just amazing!” enthused Audi team principal Alan McNish.
Thus ended Season 4 of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship, which also marks the competitive farewell to the Gen1 Formula E car.