Formula E Season 2 Winners and Losers

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The finale of the second season of the all-electric FIA Formula E championship takes place at Battersea Park in London this weekend for what will be the last hurrah at the venue in the famous city. Two of the three main protagonists from the first season – Sebastien Buemi and Lucas di Grassi both find themselves at the sharp end again this season, whilst reigning champion Nelson Piquet Jr has endured a torrid time in machinery clearly not up to the challenge. Other names have also featured, but it is just Buemi, di Grassi and Sam Bird (albeit only just) with a shout at securing the title this weekend. Of the 23 drivers who have raced this season, who has impressed and who has faltered?

Formula E Season 2 Winners and Losers

Four standout stars

Of the 23 to start a race this season, four have really stood out in terms of delivering strong drives consistently throughout the season. Points leader di Grassi is the only person to stand on the podium this season, albeit having one of those (a win at Mexico) taken away post-race. He took advantage of the Renaults having issues at Putrajaya to take a strong win there, and followed that up with two on the bounce (which would have been three had Mexico stood) at Long Beach and a dominant drive at Paris. Di Grassi being the leader with two races to go is somewhat surprising, considering that the ABT car has not been as quick as the Renault car this season at many of the events. Should di Grassi win the title this season, few could argue that it is thoroughly deserved.

Britain’s Sam Bird remains mathematically in with a shout of securing the title at London, however he would need two perfect days to do so, and then relying on Buemi and di Grassi scoring very little if anything. However he is poised to secure third in the championship which is highly impressive in a car which has been difficult to drive across the season. However strong drives, a win and a further second place has been met with some missed opportunities for Bird – notably failing to convert two successive pole positions at Long Beach and Paris into anything higher than sixth place. His win at Buenos Aires was absolutely masterful, and his second place at Malaysia whilst chaos ensued around him was a very strong drive.

The first season in Formula E for Dutch driver Robin Frijns was always going to be a tricky one, as he is restricted to technology from last year, however he is on course to secure a top ten finish in the standings this season, which is a fine effort. The peak of Frijns’ season has to be crabbing across the finish line at Malaysia to finish on the podium in that chaotic race. Similar results have been somewhat unlikely since then, especially as teams get to grips with their newer technology but Frijns has consistently scored points – in fact in all bar one race, during this season. In the only race where he failed to score, he was rammed by Buemi.

Just 20 points does absolutely no justice for the phenomenal quality Antonio Felix da Costa has shown this season. Like Frijns, da Costa has been lumbered with technology from the first season. He has finished just three of the seven races he has attended this season but he was denied opportunities to be on the rostrum multiple times this season. He qualified an absolutely stellar third at Buenos Aires and was on for a podium before the car conked out on him. He also was fastest in qualifying at Long Beach before being disqualified for a technical infringement. He didn’t run at Berlin due to commitments in DTM. He is rumoured to be joining Frijns at Andretti for next season which would be arguably the strongest pairing in Formula E.

Also impressive – but not sensational

When Sebastien Buemi made absolute mincemeat of the opposition at Beijing, securing a perfect day with pole, win and fastest lap, many jumped to the conclusion that this championship was over barely before it had begun. However through operational errors from Renault, a few reliability niggles and some driving mistakes from Buemi himself, he finds himself a point behind di Grassi heading into the final round. His two other wins – at Uruguay and Germany were very convincing wins, but a few off-par races including a very costly collision at Long Beach has taken this championship possibly to the wire. Buemi would still be a deserving champion should he win the title, especially if he delivers two brilliant performances in London, but he has cost himself a large number of points this season.

The only other driver to win a race oddly has never crossed the finish line first. Jerome d’Ambrosio (eventually) converted a sensational pole position at Mexico into race victory for the Dragon team, and also stood on the podium at Argentina having started the race from pole. However his team mate has had the upper-hand on some occasions and the Belgian has lost points in the races – notably at Malaysia whilst in a podium position.

The only driver to finish every race in the top ten this season has been the vastly experienced Frenchman Stephane Sarrazin. Sarrazin has delivered some superb qualifying performances – second at Malaysia before the car quit on him springs to mind. The peak of his season has to be the well-earned podium at Long Beach, starting from a strong third. He has scored a remarkable 92% of Venturi’s points this season, a higher percentage than any driver can boast for their team.

It has been a season of highs and lows for Mahindra’s Nick Heidfeld – a strong podium (and a somewhat overdue podium) first time out at Beijing was mixed with injury at the next round which left him sidelined for one race (and in races in other categories). However he has secured points in every race since then, including a strong fourth place at Long Beach. However Heidfeld has made the odd error – notably at Paris in qualifying, which has cost him a stronger result.

Could do better

Nico Prost may be fifth in the championship, but he has had a pretty poor season compared to his first year, notably in qualifying. Whilst Buemi has secured three wins and a further three podiums, all Prost has to shout about this season is a single third place which he inherited at Mexico. In addition, he has often missed out on the top five shootout in qualifying. When equipped with the best machinery, that should not really be happening too frequently.

Like Prost, di Grassi has soundly beaten his team mate Daniel Abt. Abt – the youngest driver currently in the Formula E field has shown gradual progress this season and is on a strong run of results but he has been often shaded by his team mate, and has made the odd error. In Abt’s defence however, his third at Long Beach topped off a great result for his team, and he had the better of di Grassi at Berlin, and refused to obey team orders (which turned out to be what di Grassi wanted anyway) to secure a brilliant second place behind Buemi at his home round.

This has been very much a season of ‘what might have been’ for Loic Duval, who despite scoring 48 points so far this season has no podiums to show for it. He has suffered a fair share of reliability issues, and has been in the hunt for podiums, but for one reason or another has missed out. However, when the chance of a top three has arisen, it has been d’Ambrosio who has delivered the goods.

It has been a completely luckless season for the popular Bruno Senna, despite delivering some solid drives. Whenever it looks as if Mahindra are about to fulfil their potential, such as qualifying at Berlin, something seems to go horribly wrong. Two fifth places has been the peak of Senna’s season.

Arguably in the trickiest of all cars to drive has been Oliver Turvey. He was fortunate to secure sixth place at Beijing which is what would turn out to be NEXTEV’s best result so far this season. He has often had the upper hand on his reigning champion team mate, but ultimately he has had very little to show for it.

Must do better

It has been a very disappointing campaign for Jean-Eric Vergne. He may not have the confidence that Bird has in the DS Virgin car which has been visibly difficult to drive. However, Vergne has swung the pendulum back in his favour in the past couple of races – beating Bird on the road of his home race at Paris, and securing pole at Berlin.

Mike Conway was very much thrown in the deep end following Jacques Villeneuve’s swift departure. There have been flashes of speed from Conway, but ultimately strong results have been just too infrequent. Of the five races he has contested in, he has beaten his Venturi team mate just once.

What a difference a year can make for Nelson Piquet Jr. From race wins and championship showdowns to being well down the pecking order. A heavy, slow, unreliable car has made it pretty much impossible for Piquet to exploit his abilities which we saw last season, and at times it almost seems as if he is a bit disinterested. Should Piquet be given the opportunity to run in a strong car again however, then there is no doubt that he can be towards the front again.

It has been a year of progression for Simona de Silvestro – the first woman to score points in Formula E. She has often been soundly beaten by her team mate but progress has certainly been made. However she has often been towards the back in qualifying which is so important in Formula E, and is an area she must improve on – be it at Andretti for season 3 or at another team.

A number of drivers only did three races or less in Formula E this season to date – Jacques Villeneuve did two before leaving the Venturi team and being replaced by Conway. Oliver Rowland stood in for Heidfeld at Uruguay and did a respectable job. Nathanael Berthon, Salvador Duran, Ma Qing Hua and Rene Rast have all been part of a revolving door at the troubled Aguri team, with only Berthon of those mentioned securing points at any point.

London provides a good opportunity for drivers to make a name for themselves with many seats still undecided (notably at the new Jaguar team) for season 3. Will London provide an opportunity for a name not normally seen towards the front to feature?

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