We have reached the second break in the Formula E season, which gives us a chance to reflect on what we have seen so far. In this article, we will pick out the drivers and teams who have both impressed and surprised us, as well as mentioning a few things to look out for when racing resumes in Puebla, Mexico, in the middle of next month.
BEST DRIVER – Jean-Eric Vergne (DS Techeetah)
We could have mentioned Robin Frijns, the Envision Virgin driver currently leading the Championship, or Jaguar’s Mitch Evans, but two-time champion Jean-Eric Vergne has been slowly and silently picking up points this season. He has only finishing outside the top 10 on three occasions (the two Diriyah races and the second Rome race), and has finished every race (only one of three drivers to have done so), alongside Frijns and Dragon/Penske’s Nico Muller.
Vergne won the first race in Rome, and has finished in the points in the last three races. He currently sits seventh in the Drivers’ Championship, 12 points behind Frijns, and could be an outside bet for a third title if he can continue the form he has shown over recent weekends.
BEST TEAM – Jaguar Racing
Many teams this season have had one driver doing well and another struggling, but Jaguar undoubtedly have the best combined lineup. We know already that Mitch Evans is a brilliant driver, but, with Formula E veteran Sam Bird also on board, Jaguar have a duo capable of leading them to the Constructors’ Championship. The team are currently second in the table, just two points behind Mercedes-EQ and five ahead of DS Techeetah.
The reason for their good form is because they never know when they are beaten. So many times this season, the two drivers have made daring overtaking moves, with Bird one of the best on the grid at gaining places, whilst Evans made one of the overtakes of the season last weekend in Monaco. It’s not just when they are at the front that they do well, either; Bird started the Monaco E-Prix in 16th place, and finished it in seventh, so they are just relentless in every single race.
We picked them out in our season preview as an outside bet for the Constructors’ Championship, and they have so far proven to be very much in contention.
BIGGEST SURPRISE – ROKIT Venturi Racing
Last season, Venturi were disappointing, never really having enough to challenge the teams above them. Whilst they have also struggled for points this season, they have shown that their cars can compete. In the season opener in Diriyah, Edoardo Mortara made an outstanding double-overtake on Jaguar’s Evans and Porsche’s Pascal Wehrlein, whilst Norman Nato, one of this year’s rookies, finished third in the second race in Rome, before being disqualified for using slightly more energy than was allowed.
They may be 11th and 23rd in the Drivers’ Championship, and 10th of 12 in the Constructors’ Championship, but we have seen signs from the Monaco-based side of what they are really capable of, and that has been one of the many surprises so far this season.
BEST RACE – Valencia (Race One)
Each E-Prix this season has been entertaining in it’s own way, but the one that will always stand out is the first event in Valencia. Raced in the wet, many cars found it hard to stay on the grid, with quite a few yellow flags and safety car laps.
Every time the safety car is deployed, some of the maximum energy the drivers can use is deducted, but this caused chaos at the end of the race, because every team except Mercedes-EQ thought that there would only be the flying lap left, but there was still an extra lap before that. No drivers had enough energy to make it to the end, except Mercedes’ Nyck de Vries and Stoffel Vandoorne, who were constantly told on the radio to “stick to the plan”, whilst NIO gained a VERY rare podium through Nico Muller’s third place.
Watching the horror of the miscalculations made this race the most memorable so far.
THREE KEY TALKING POINTS
- Porsche/Andre Lotterer issues
The team who have disappointed the most, given what we expected from them beforehand, has been Porsche. Currently, they sit seventh in the Constructor’s Championship, with Lotterer only having one points finish all season (a second place in the second Rome event), whilst Wehrlein has not won any points since that same race, with two of his last three races ending in retirement.
Lotterer has also been involved in quite a few accidents, with two or three occasions of him not giving enough space or making mistakes, so it will be interesting to see if they come back any stronger once racing resumes in Mexico next month.
2. Sebastien Buemi struggles
Another driver struggling for form this season has been Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi, of Nissan e.dams. Whilst Oliver Rowland has done well this season, Buemi is currently third-bottom of the table, with only Venturi’s Nato and NIO’s Tom Blomqvist below him. As a former Formula E champion, this is not where he would have wanted to be.
His only points this season came in the two Rome races, with fifth and 10th-placed finishes respectively, and he has had two retirements already this season. Admittedly, when he has been outside the points, it is only just (two 11th places and a 13th place), but he would have hoped to be higher up the table at this stage of the season.
3. Mercedes-EQ as potential title winners
Whisper it quietly, but another team we picked out in our preview as one to watch, Mercedes-EQ, are currently looking very good to win the Constructors’ Championship this season. Nyck de Vries is the only driver to win two races this season, whilst Stoffel Vandoorne also has a win, and both have picked up two fastest laps each as well.
They have excellent race strategies too, with the first Valencia race a clear example of this. They stuck to their energy consumption and regeneration plan, and it paid off when they got both cars on the podium whilst other teams around them fell away. They are serious contenders, and are definitely ones to watch in the second half of the season.