It’s fights and farewells on the streets of New York City this weekend, as the fourth season of the FIA Formula E Championship concludes with the double-header New York City ePrix.
|Zürich Street Circuit|
|Location||Brooklyn, New York||Circuit Length||2.373 km / 1.52 mi|
|Opened||2017||First Formula E Event||2017|
|Direction||Clockwise||Lap Record||To be established (new layout)|
The Brooklyn Street Circuit along the waterfront of the Red Hook neighbourhood has been extended from 13 turns to 17 for the second running of the event and now measures at 2.373 kilometres.
Where Turn 6 was a right-hand hairpin in 2017; the corner is now a shorter, left-hand hairpin which is followed by a new complex of four right-hand corners. Turns 7 and 8 are ninety-degree corners, Turn 9 is slightly more open than the preceding two turns, and Turn 10 is a sweeper returning to the back straight of the circuit. This new complex is likely to increase the number of passing duels during each race, as any car passed in the left hand corner at Turn 6 has the potential to regain the place with a switchback through Turns 7 and 8.
The Form Guide
The eleventh and twelfth races of the season see two contenders remaining in contention for both the drivers’ and teams’ titles. Jean-Éric Vergne and Sam Bird will battle to claim the Drivers’ Championship, while Techeetah and Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler will square off to be the first squad other than Renault e.Dams to win the Teams’ Championship.
Techeetah driver Vergne holds a 23-point lead over DS Virgin Racing’s Bird leading in to New York, and while the Frenchman’s lead may seem comfortable, all three Formula E deciding weekends to date have shown that no mathematically-possible scenario is out of reach. History in New York absolutely plays into Bird’s hands, the Briton having won both races in last year’s double header.
“If I don’t beat him on Saturday, then he wins the championship on Saturday – it’s as simple as that,” Bird said in the lead up to this weekend’s title deciding races. “I need to beat him on Saturday to take it Sunday.”
While the situation Bird describes is not entirely true – a driver can score up to 29 points per day, so there are some scenarios where Bird may finish behind Vergne on the road and the championship still be alive into Sunday – it does become far easier for the DS Virgin driver if he finishes ahead of his rival on Saturday.
The Teams’ battle may also have an indirect impact on the Drivers’ battle too. Vergne’s Techeetah team currently lead the standings with 219 points, with the chasing Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler team on 186 points. The Audi pair of Daniel Abt and outgoing champion Lucas di Grassi have had a remarkable upturn in form during the second half of the season, and between them have won the past two races. Given this recent form, and the Teams’ title on the line, there’s every chance that di Grassi and Abt will be fighting with Vergne and Bird at or near the front of the field.
New York also marks the end of an era for the series, a team in its current state and several drivers. It will be the final event for the original-generation Spark Formula E car, which has served the series across the first four seasons of competition. With the new car for next season comes several changes in the series and race formats: with the new car’s battery systems carrying enough energy to complete an entire race distance, no more compulsory pit stops for the championship’s infamous car-swaps will occur after New York. This weekend will also be the final event with just ten teams – by extension of the new car, the number of individual cars (and space required for them in pit lane for them) at each event is halved and will allow the number of entrants to grow for the first time: HWA will join the championship next year as the eleventh team.
Renault will also depart Formula E following this week’s event, to be replaced by sister brand Nissan. The French marque has been the most successful in date in the championship, with the factory Renault e.Dams team winning the first three Teams’ Championship titles. While a fourth title is now out of reach for the factory squad, their powertrain may still claim the title if customers Techeetah hold on to their lead in the standings.
With Renault’s departure, team figurehead Alain Prost is also leaving Formula E, while driver (and inaugural Formula E pole position holder) Nicolas Prost will also end his tenure with the squad.
The French driver has reflected on his – and Renault’s efforts over the past four seasons ahead of New York: “We knew it was going to be the end of an era. Obviously, we’d have loved to finish the season on a high but with three championship titles and 15 wins, everything we’ve achieved is fantastic.”
There is also change afoot at Venturi. New York marks the first event for the Monegasque team with new shareholder and Team Principal Susie Wolff at the helm, as well as being the final race driving with the team for at least one of Maro Engel and Edoardo Mortara. With Felipe Massa having already been announced as joining the team for Season 5, one of the incumbents will need to make way for the Brazilian.
|2017-18 FIA Formula E Championship – Qatar Airways New York ePrix|
|Date||14-15 July 2018||Free Practice Session 1||Sat 07:30-08:15|
|Free Practice Session 2||Sat 10:00-10:30||Race 1 Qualifying||Sat 11:30-12:15|
|Race 1 ‘Super Pole’||Sat 12:15-12:30||Race 1 (45 laps)||Sat 15:33-16:30|
|Free Practice Session 3||Sun 08:30-09:15||Race 2 Qualifying||Sun 11:00-11:45|
|Race 2 ‘Super Pole’||Sun 11:45-12:00||Race 2 (43 laps)||Sun 15:03-16:00|
Session times quoted in Eastern Daylight Time (GMT -04:00)
Images via ABB FIA Formula E Championship