New York ePrix: Vergne wins finale, Audi teams’ champions

New York ePrix: Vergne wins finale, Audi teams’ champions
By: Alex Kalinauckas
Jul 15, 2018, 8:11 PM

Newly-crowned Formula E champion Jean-Eric Vergne won a thrilling season-ending New York ePrix on Sunday, but his victory wasn’t enough to seal the teams’ title for his Techeetah squad.

Jean-Eric Vergne, Techeetah, Lucas di Grassi, Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler
Jean-Eric Vergne, Techeetah, Lucas di Grassi, Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler
Jean-Eric Vergne, Techeetah
Jean-Eric Vergne, Techeetah
Jean-Eric Vergne, Techeetah, wins
Jean-Eric Vergne, Techeetah, wins, followed byLucas di Grassi, Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler, Daniel Abt, Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler
Jean-Eric Vergne, Techeetah, wins
Allan McNish, Team Principal, Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler, celebrates winning the constructors trophy

The race took place in hot and sunny conditions – in stark contrast to the wet weather from earlier in the day, which at one point caused organisers to temporarily suspend the event due to the threat of lightening in the area – although that weather threat disappeared and the race took place as scheduled.

Vergne led the 43-lap race from the first corner after muscling his way from third on the grid past polesitter Sebastien Buemi on the run to Turn 1.

Andre Lotterer, who started alongside Buemi, moved into second with an easy move into the Turn 11 left-hander at the end of the Brooklyn Circuit’s second long straight on lap five but was under investigation for jumping the start, as was his Techeetah team-mate Vergne.

The threat of a penalty hung over the leading duo throughout a full-course yellow period caused by Jose Maria Lopez stopping on the run to the new-for-2018 Turn 6 with suspension damage, and an almost simultaneous incident between Antonio Felix da Costa, Luca Filippi and Jerome d’Ambrosio on the approach to Turn 11.

Filippi and da Costa clashed and in the aftermath of their contact D’Ambrosio was eliminated – with Andretti driver da Costa, who continued and eventually finished 15th, handed a 10-second stop/go penalty for causing the collision with Filippi.

Lotterer was handed a 10s stop/go penalty for jumping the start, while no further action was taken against Vergne, who continued to lead as the race resumed where his team-mate immediately came in to serve his penalty and fell to P15.

By lap 12, Vergne held a 1.6s lead over Buemi, who was subsequently demoted to third by di Grassi as they headed into Turn 11 on that tour.

Abt had dropped back from his fourth place grid spot on the first lap – promoting di Grassi and Jaguar’s Nelson Piquet – but he fought his way back throughout the first stint, albeit by using much more energy than his rivals.

On lap 19, Abt passed Buemi for third at Turn 11, with Vergne’s advantage over di Grassi holding at around 1s.

Abt was the first to pit for his car swap on lap 22, with Vergne, di Grassi and Buemi following him one tour later.

They emerged in the same order in their second machines, with Abt only just staying ahead of Buemi as the Renault e.dams driver came out of the pits behind the top two.

Vergne’s lead was now under 1s back to di Grassi, who set about pressuring the recently crowned season four champion throughout the second stint. They pulled clear of Abt and Buemi – who briefly swapped places when Buemi used his fanboost to dive ahead at Turn 11 before being repassed a few laps later after making a mistake at Turn 2.

Di Grassi was all over Vergne in the final laps, at one point pushing the rear of the Techeetah driver heading into the final corner, but he could not find a way by.

Their battle allowed Abt and Buemi to close right back up again and set up a nail-biting four-way fight by the finish.

But Vergne held on to win by 0.5s, with Buemi finishing 0.4s behind Abt, who had to save energy significantly in the second stint to recover from his early stop, in fourth place.

Felix Rosenqvist finished fifth after battling by Mitch Evans, who ended up sixth, in the middle phase of the race, with Piquet falling back to seventh by the flag to come home in front of Nick Heidfeld.

Lotterer recovered to ninth, which meant Techeetah ultimately finished two points behind Audi in the teams’ championship.

Sam Bird rounded out the top 10 and, as a result of di Grassi’s points haul, the Virgin Racing driver fell behind the Brazilian to end up third in the final drivers’ standings.

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