Last Saturday, home hero Jean Eric Vergne of Techeetah delivered a commanding performance to win his home race from pole position, much to the delight of his home fans. Today’s analysis will reveal five things that we learnt from the 2018 Qatar Airways Paris ePrix.
Parisians Love Formula E ( And Jean Eric Vergne)
With Formula E being a developing series, attendance figures were an issue at selected races but the last few events have shown otherwise. The inaugural Rome ePrix had a sellout crowd and so did the Paris ePrix last weekend. People flocked in around the Circuit Des Invalides in the beautiful ‘Les Invalides’ complex of Paris and filled in the stands and also the Allianz E-Village, an area full of fun activities including simulator racing for the fans.
The fact that fellow Parisian Jean Eric Vergne was on a superb run of form heading into the race must have helped in getting the crowd to the race. Fortunately for them, their home hero dominated the race weekend, much to their delight.
Jean Eric Vergne’s win in Paris captured the hearts of the Parisians and should he keep his run up, such crowds can be expected in every Paris ePrix in the future. Vergne’s victory was not only a big win for him and the team, but also for Formula E as a series and the French supporters.
Drivers Know The Limit…
Paris is one of the narrower Formula E circuits and in the past, we have seen drivers have big crashes here as they try to push the limit to get a faster lap time. This time around, things were different; the drivers seemed to be a lot more sober and vigilant about the track limits in the main race, with barely a few drivers taking gambles to overtake during the race.
Although the majority did try to stay within the limit, the brave such as Daniel Abt and Lucas Di Grassi took risks and it sure did pay off well for them. The ones who went over it, like Jaguar’s Nelson Piquet Junior and Mahindra’s Felix Rosenqvist, faced heavy consequences.
The line between brilliance and the barricade is even finer in Paris and most of the drivers survived the bumpy and narrow street circuit in the main race.
Things will be much tougher for the drivers next season with the wider cars. Get your popcorn folks, Season 5 is going to be action packed!
Venturi Have Got The Pace…Sometimes
This season in Hong Kong, we saw Venturi’s new Driver, Edoardo Mortara take his car to Superpole and his first ever podium finish. That day, Mortara’s Venturi was superior to the competition but after that, he hasn’t been able to match that sort of pace again. This weekend in Paris, his teammate Maro Engel pulled out a stunning performance and finished 4th after qualifying in the same position.
Also, Mortara was on course for a strong finish as a consequence of his peculiar extreme energy saving strategy but sadly for him and the team, he wasn’t able to make the best of it. Engel’s fourth place was a massive change in results for the Monegasque outfit, who have struggled for pace throughout this season.
So, what do we learn from their results?
We can simply look at the trend and figure out that they sporadically produce brilliant performances, generally on the tighter and narrower circuits like Hong Kong and Paris. If that really is the case, the double header Season finale in New York should be a strong race for them. In Hong Kong, I met with a chief engineer at Venturi on the way to the pitlane and he predicted exactly how this season would go for them; bitter with occasional signs of positivity.
How will they fare in Berlin? Only time will tell. Nevertheless, Paris was really strong for the team from Monaco and they have shown that they have the potential to get great results. Full credits to the team and Maro Engel for their formidable performance in the ‘City of Light’.
The Rise Of Audi
The start of Season 4 seemed to be really frustrating for the German squad, with a lack of reliability for defending champion Lucas Di Grassi and a lack of luck for the promising Daniel Abt. Things changed after Mexico City though, where Abt took his first ever Formula E win and Di Grassi got his first points of the year. Since then, Audi have been really strong, with Di Grassi recording multiple second places including the hard fought one in Paris and his teammate Daniel Abt performing extremely well.
In Paris for instance, the young German climbed up 8 spots from his starting position, finishing a strong 7th after a disappointing qualifying. Abt made some bold moves to show his skill and the pace of the Audi and Di Grassi went two laps longer than the pack and the extra available energy in the second stint prompted him to push harder, getting a second place finish as a reward. Audi has been improving a lot as a team and now, their powertrain stands to be one of the most consistent on the grid.
Their revelation is truly commendable and although they aren’t really in the Championship battle this year, they have shown everyone what they can do and that is a positive set up for Season 5.
The constructors’ championship is well out of reach for them but with the way things are shaping up for them, a second place finish ahead of DS Virgin Racing and Mahindra Racing seems to be well in sight.
The Techeetahs Aren’t Shy Of Defending Hard
Jean Eric Vergne is known to be one of the most robust defenders in the business and this weekend, he lived up to his reputation, defending hard and giving no chance to DS Virgin’s Sam Bird to pass him for the lead. Vergne made some bold defensive moves and hogged up the whole track, leaving no space for Bird to fly past (pun intended), eventually giving Vergne the race win.
His teammate, Andre Lotterer showed that anything Vergne could do, he could too; in the latter stages of the race, Lotterer, on a more conservative stint, was being hunted down by Audi’s Lucas Di Grassi. Di Grassi, the reigning Formula E champion, was on an aggressive stint and had a lot more usable energy and was looking feisty. Lotterer too made some bold blocks and didn’t let Di Grassi pass him.
His actions did earn him some criticism from the Audi man but he was able to keep hold of his position until the dying stages of the race, when he had to coast to the finish due to a lack of energy, with Sam Bird hitting the sluggish Lotterer on the last corner as a result of his high pace and the German’s lack of it. Eventually, Andre finished 6th, far from what he could have achieved but we did find out that he too will not let go of his position with a lot of ease.
I feel that the Techeetah’s do not need to prove how well they can defend but sometimes, things go a little overboard and that as we have seen often frustrates their rivals.
If you are chasing someone down, hope that it’s not a Techeetah; they’re the toughest ones to pass by!
Image Credits: ABB FIA Formula E Championship