Nelson Piquet Jr. has become the first ever Formula E champion. The title was won after an incredible final race at Battersea Park in London. The racing was fierce, unpredictable and extremely close. Some drivers had nothing to lose and gave it their all, notably Sam Bird who finished the race in 1st place after pole sitter and actual race winner Stéphane Sarrazin overused his energy allowance, incurring a penalty which pushed him back to 15th in the race.
The day began with dry practice and qualifying sessions, but just as the final qualifying session was about to begin, spots of rain began to fall. It made the track instantly greasy after the heat and dust got a little soaked. The result was Piquet Jr. was unable to qualify any higher than 16th on the grid. The two other title contenders, Lucas di Grassi and Sébastien Buemi qualified higher in the order, giving them a distinct advantage. But would it be enough?
Heavy downpours ensued and furrowed brows appeared on drivers as they contemplated the prospects of racing the first wet race of the Formula E season. Fortunately, the clouds parted and gave way to brilliant sunshine that, even despite tree shade, was able to dry the track ahead of the race.
Prior to the race start, Piquet was told by his team to put his head down and not ask any questions. He was forbidden from asking where Buemi and di Grassi were on the track during the race and to simply concentrate on the job in hand; complete the race.
More than 25,000 spectators lined the circuit while the drivers gave it their all. Buemi had a mishap that cost him the title, a spin that allowed Bruno Senna to pass by, leaving Buemi constantly frustrated and staring at his tail light. Despite multiple valiant efforts to get by, The Swissman was simply unable as at every turn Senna blocked him off. There were no racing incidents though and the two drivers showed an incredible level of skill while dicing with each other.
Meanwhile, di Grassi ran a flawless race, but was too far down the order to have earned enough points to win the championship from third place in the driver standings. Really, he needed a win to be in with a shot of the title and for both Buemi and Piquet to fall off the track. It didn’t happen. Buemi managed a fastest lap early on in the race, which would have given him an additional two points, if it weren’t for Sam Bird who took fastest lap and with it any chances of Buemi winning the title was over. Ultimately, Piquet won the championship by just one point, a fact which he and his team did not realise until after the race as he was driving his car back to the pits.
As for the final race, Sam Bird took the win, which he was evidently immensely proud to have done so for his home race, while Jerome D’Ambrosio and Loic Duval came second and third respectively.
The remaining points places were filled by the Mexican Duran (eighth), Englishman Turvey who finished ninth just as he did yesterday in his debut weekend in Formula E.
It was a closely fought and tense race, very exciting for the spectators and for those following the race on television and the Internet. It was a great end to the inaugural season of the first FIA championship for fully-electric single-seaters. Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag commented,
“Not even in my wildest dreams could I have imagined the final would turn out like this. It was an incredible day and we achieved what we set out to do; putting on a great motorsport show in one of the most important cities in the world. We did it!”
The season ended with a prize-giving evening, which took place at the Natural History Museum in London, but thoughts are already turning to the future. On 10 July, at the FIA World Council meeting, the calendar for the second season will be published and exactly one month later, Donington Park circuit will stage the first of three official test sessions. Rumours are that Paris and possibly Montreal will feature in the new calendar, with two races being replaced by these. However, Alejandro Agag was undecided about this during the post-race press conference, stating:
“We would like Formula E to be as far reaching as possible. We are already in South and North America, Europe and Asia and we are looking at races in Africa too.”
FIA Formula E Championship – Visa London ePrix (Rd 11) – Results:
- Sam Bird, Virgin Racing, 45:48.792s (29 laps)
- Jerome D’Ambrosio, Dragon Racing, +6.973s
- Loic Duval, Dragon Racing, +9.430s
- Bruno Senna, Mahindra Racing, +10.147s
- Sebastien Buemi, e.dams-Renault, +10.689s
- Lucas di Grassi, Audi Sport ABT, +11.204s
- Nelson Piquet Jr, NEXTEV TCR, +11.561s
- Salvador Duran, Amlin Aguri, +12.402s
- Oliver Turvey, NEXTEV TCR, +14.142s
- Nicolas Prost, e.dams-Renault, +14.535s
- Daniel Abt, Audi Sport ABT, +23.170s
- Simona de Silvestro, Andretti Formula E, +24.610s
- Karun Chandhok, Mahindra Racing, +31.501s
- Alex Fontana, Trulli, +38.423s
- Stephane Sarrazin, Venturi, +48.680s
- Jean-Eric Vergne, Andretti Formula E, 1 lap
Nick Heidfeld, Venturi, DNF
Fabio Leimer, Virgin Racing, DNF
Jarno Trulli, Trulli, DNF
Sakon Yamamoto, Amlin Aguri, DNF
Driver Standings (After Rd 11):
- Nelson Piquet Jr 144pts
- Sebastien Buemi 143pts
- Lucas di Grassi 133pts
- Jerome D’Ambrosio 113pts
- Sam Bird 103pts
- Nicolas Prost 88pts
- Jean-Eric Vergne 70pts
- Antonio Felix da Costa 51pts
- Loic Duval 42pts
- Bruno Senna 40pts
Team Standings (After Rd 11):
- e.dams-Renault 232pts
- Dragon Racing 171pts
- Audi Sport ABT 165pts
- NEXTEV TCR 152pts
- Virgin Racing 133pts
- Andretti Formula E 119pts
- Amlin Aguri 66pts
- Mahindra Racing 58pts
- Venturi 53pts
- Trulli 17pts