We are pretty much guaranteed a new ABB FIA Formula E World Champion this weekend, which would make it seven different title winners in eight seasons.
Mathematically, Jean-Eric Vergne (DS TECHEETAH) is still in the title hunt, but he basically needs a perfect score from the final two races and to hope that current championship leader heading into a first race weekend in Seoul, Stoffel Vandoorne (Mercedes-EQ), fails to score. In fact, if Vergne doesn’t take Julius Baer Pole Position on Saturday, his championship hopes are over.
Before the double-header in London, I declared on this website that Vergne could have the upper hand thanks to his title-winning experience in the past. This turned out not to be the case, although he was mostly just plain unlucky in the second race in London, getting wiped out by Rowland’s airborne Mahindra.
It seems almost certain, though, that it won’t be a third title for the Frenchman, so there will be a new name engraved on the Drivers' World Championship trophy. Clearly, the smart money is on Vandoorne. If he finishes ahead of Mitch Evans (Jaguar TCS Racing) and Edoardo Mortara (ROKiT Venturi Racing) on Saturday, he is the champion.
Vandoorne and Mercedes-EQ haven’t put a foot wrong so far this season, it has been one of the most accomplished Formula E campaigns in history, but the last time we went to a new circuit was arguably the weekend where they struggled the most this season. Fifth in Jakarta was a reasonable enough result, but his three title rivals took the three steps on the podium. A brand new circuit in Seoul could bring some of the same difficulties.
Evans and Mortara will just be praying for a bit of luck, something that seems to have deserted them in recent races, most notably with Evans retiring from the race in London in the closing stages while running ahead of Vandoorne. It’s those moments that championships can hinge on.
Vandoorne and Evans have been racing against each other for a long time, and in GP2 they actually shared the podium on 10 occasions. The two get along well and you could tell there was genuine sadness from Vandoorne after the race when he was reflecting on the Jaguar’s retirement.
Nobody wants to win a championship based on other drivers’ misfortune, but somewhat ironically, it is what Evans will need now if he is to win the title. It seems difficult to envisage a weekend where Vandoorne and Mercedes simply underperform, when all season they have only failed to score on one occasion, and failed to make it through to the duels on three. So, whilst I’m sure Evans and Mortara won’t be wishing bad luck upon Vandoorne, it seems the only way of stopping the Belgian from taking his first Formula E crown.
There were three drivers on the grid for the first ever Formula E race, but only one of them is set to hit the hundred club this weekend. Sunday will be the 100th Formula E race, and Lucas di Grassi (ROKiT Venturi Racing), Sam Bird (Jaguar TCS Racing) and Sebastien Buemi (Nissan e.dams) all lined up on the grid in Beijing 2014. In fact, those three were the first three race winners in the championship, as di Grassi won in Beijing, Bird in Putrajaya, and Buemi in Punta del Este.
Buemi missed two races in Season 3, when a clash with an FIA World Endurance Championship race forced him to skip the New York City race weekend and ultimately cost him his second Formula E Championship.
From then on, it had only been Bird and di Grassi who were ever present, but a collision in London broke Bird’s hand, so the British driver will have to miss this weekend in Seoul. He and Buemi and Vergne will all have 98 starts after this weekend, but it will only be di Grassi who will hit the 100 heading in to Season 9.
Published on 11th August 2022
4 min read