10. Pascal Wehrlein
It wasn’t until round three of the championship in Chile that we saw the true potential of Pascal Wehrlein. The German suffered a difficult start to the season, missing the opening round in Ad Diriyah due to contractual issues with Mercedes, and then being knocked out of the Marrakesh E-Prix on the first corner.
But that all changed in Santiago as the 24-year old was finally able to show off the talents that won him a DTM championship in 2015. Wehrlein qualified second in Santiago and was able to keep with up with the leaders during the race. He was challenging Sam Bird for the lead of the race, but battery temperature issues cost him the chance to battle Bird in the final laps. But Wehrlein had shown that he could fight for wins in his debut season.
In Mexico Wehrlein was 100 yards from claiming that tantalising victory, but the German driver ran out of usable energy just before the finish line after defending from Lucas Di Grassi, before being penalised for cutting the chicane on the last lap, and ending up 6th.
Wehrlein made six appearances in superpole in total, and ended the season 12th in the driver’s standings with 58 points. Mistakes and underwhelming results in the second half of the season prevent him from being ranked higher in this list.
Wehrlein’s pace has been consistently strong though, indicating that he could be a serious contender for future championships.
9. Stoffel Vandoorne
After enduring a tough two seasons in Formula 1, Stoffel Vandoorne demonstrated that he’d lost none of the talent that saw him dominate the 2015 GP2 Series.
Vandoorne joined the nascent HWA RaceLab team, in what was a learning year for the German outfit before they became Mercedes for season six. Therefore, expectations for Vandoorne’s rookie season in Formula E were pretty low. This was evident at the start of the season as the team suffered four retirements in the first six races.
But as is often the case, the race results did not show the full picture, as Vandoorne broke into Superpole on five occasions, including taking an impressive maiden pole position in wet conditions in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong sparked a change in fortunes for the HWA team and Vandoorne, as the Belgian would go on to score his first podium of the year in Rome after finishing third. Vandoorne then consistently finished in the points at the end of the season, scoring in the four of the last five races to end the season 16th in the driver’s championship with 35 points.
Should Vandoorne becomes a Mercedes driver for season six, then he will be a driver to look out for in next season’s title fight.
8. Maximilian Gunther
This might be an unexpected addition to this list, however the 22 year old German has impressed despite lacklustre machinery.
The Dragon Racing driver had a shaky start to his season in Ad Diriyah and Marrakesh, but he went to Santiago and produced a great qualifying lap to start eighth.
But trouble hit early on in the race whilst running in the points, ending not just his race but what looked like a short Formula E career after he was replaced by former Sauber F1 driver Felipe Nasr for Mexico City.
However, the German regained his seat in the #6 car in Rome whilst Nasr raced in IMSA.
Gunther took the opportunity with both hands, he qualified into Superpole and, despite crashing on the first lap, ran in the points for the majority of the race before falling back towards the end.
It was Gunther’s drive in Paris which would ensure his seat for the rest of the season. After another Superpole lap, Gunther scored Dragon’s best result of the season: A fifth place in a chaotic wet race, and he was able to replicate this result later in the season in Bern to amass a total of 20 points in a car which his experienced teammate Jose Maria Lopez could only coax 3 points out of.
His consistent qualifying speed underlines that despite not being in his seat full-time, he was one of the top rookies of the season. Now Gunther will have to work on his racecraft in season six to ensure that he can fight it out at the front for consistent points finishes and challenge for a top ten position in the standings.
7. Daniel Abt
Daniel Abt turned out to be the ‘Mr. Consistent’ of season 5, scoring valuable points for himself and Audi in all rounds bar Rome and Monaco.
In past seasons, the inter-team battle would tend to swing towards Lucas Di Grassi. But, ever since Abt became an Audi factory driver in season four, Abt has been able to offer a stronger and more consistent challenge to his teammate Lucas Di Grassi.
The German driver was able to give Audi a fighting chance in the races this season by making it through to Superpole on four occasions and qualifying in the top ten seven times, which helped him score points in 11 of the 13 rounds this season.
Despite the rumours of leaving Formula E after the finale of the season, Abt was not deterred, and reeled in further strong points finishes to finish 7th in the driver’s standings with 95 points; enough to be retained by the Audi squad.
Despite failing to add to his pair of victories from season 4, the 25-year old managed to score two podiums this season by finishing in third in Santiago and Paris, and that, combined with a slew of midfield points finishes, are what solidifies his place in the list.
6. Oliver Rowland
You could argue that Oliver Rowland could be a few spots further up the order, as the British driver didn’t step foot into the Nissan e.Dams car until the first practice session in Saudi Arabia. Rowland went on to score points in his debut race by finishing in seventh place.
It then took Rowland a couple of races to get up to speed, but when he did, he suddenly became a driver that was more than capable of fighting for multiple victories in season five.
Rowland impressed with his performance in Mexico before running out of energy due to a miscalculation by Nissan, and was leading the race in Hong Kong before accidentally pressing the pitlane speed limiter caused him to drop down the field. But his first pole position in Sanya was the major turning point. A minor mistake from the 26 year old Yorkshireman allowed eventual champion Jean-Eric Vergne to take the win, meaning Rowland had to be content with his first podium in second.
Rowland would then go from strength to strength as he claimed two more pole positions in Paris and Monaco. Unfortunately, he locked up and went straight on at turn 8 in Paris, which cost him a chance of victory and left him in the melee of the midfield pack as the rain fell, whilst in Monaco he took pole, but a penalty carried over from Paris dropped him down to fourth on the grid. He fought back to finish second in the Principality.
Rowland ended the season in 10th place in the driver’s table with 71 points. If Rowland can carry on his momentum into season six and take that elusive first victory in Formula E, then he will be a force to be reckoned with.
Check back tommorow for our top five drivers of season five.