Season Five’s Top Ten Drivers, Part 2

5. Lucas Di Grassi

Lucas Di Grassi made it into the top five due to his last-ditch championship effort, which the Brazilian has constantly been able to do in every season of Formula E.

Despite starting the season slowly with nine points from the first three races. He would go on to kick start his season in Mexico after stealing victory away from Pascal Wehrlein at the finish line. Di Grassi would also claim a second victory of the season in Berlin which helped him stay in championship contention at the final two races of the season in New York.

One area Di Grassi would have wished had been better was qualifying. And whilst admittedly he was disadvantaged by being in the opening group, Di Grassi was rarely the fastest driver out of those championship contenders. And on the sole occasion that he was on pole position in Santiago, he was thrown out of qualifying and sent to the back of the grid for completing his slowdown lap too quickly.

This hurt him in the run up to the championship as he could not find a way through to the front of the field in the tight streets of Bern after qualifying 19th, and when Jean-Eric Vergne failed to qualify well in New York, Di Grassi was unable to take much advantage because he had to fight his way through the field from outside the top 10 to try and take significant points away from Vergne.

4. Sebastien Buemi

The Nissan e.Dams driver had a slow start to the season only scoring 30 points after the first eight races, including three races where he came away with no points.

But things turned around in the second half of the season with two pole positions, one being converted into a win in New York, which kept the Swiss driver in title contention on the final day of the season. In the last four races Buemi was never off the podium, which was key to his strong finish to the season.

Although he was too many points behind after qualifying to be able to win the championship, he still managed to finish 17 points behind Vergne to take the runner’s up spot for the third time in his Formula E career. No one would have predicted that after his difficult start to the championship.

Looking at Buemi’s season there are quite a few “what ifs”? What if he had not crashed out of the lead in Santiago or if he had avoided puncturing his rear tyre on Robin Frijns’ front wing whilst leading the race in Paris? Could these extra points have secured him the driver’s title over Vergne? Possibly. But these events are all part of racing.

Regardless of those mistakes, the highs definitely outweigh the lows, and Buemi had a strong enough season to put him fourth in this list.

3. Mitch Evans

Mitch Evans has had a phenomenal year, earning his and Jaguar’s first legitimate podium and their first win along with keeping his title fight going all the way to the final race of the season.

He started the season as he meant to go on, with points scoring finishes in every E-Prix from the start of the season to his win in Rome.

It was on the streets of the Italian capital that his title challenge began in earnest. After narrowly missing out on pole position in a frantic superpole session on a drying track, his first victory was secured by a superlative and gutsy move on Andre Lotterer using Attack mode at the narrow turn 11 and 12 chicane, and once in the lead Evans was also able to defend from the Techeetah masterfully in the closing stages.

The remaining races of the season were an up and down affair; Evans run of points scoring finishes came to an end in the carnage of the sudden downpour in Paris, followed by another non-score in Berlin. The Kiwi bounced back in Bern, hounding Jean Eric Vergne throughout the entire race distance to take second, and this was followed up by another standout performance in Saturday’s New York race, where he made some astonishing overtakes during his climb from 13th to 2nd.

Ultimately though his title shot was an outside one, and to add insult to injury he fell down to 5th place in the final standings after running into battery temperature issues and colliding with title rival Di Grassi on the final lap of the finale in New York.

Despite this, Mitch Evans has proven his star quality beyond doubt, and Jaguar will be expecting even more from their lead driver for season six.

2. Robin Frijns

Robin Frijns has had a stellar season and takes second spot in our top ten drivers of the year.

After spending a year out of the series, the Dutchman returned to Formula E with the Envision Virgin squad. A team who had just lost their manufacturer in DS to Techeetah, meaning that the test days for the car were even more limited than before.

Despite a disappointing race in Ad Diriyah, Frijns showed that he’d lost none of his prodigious pace during his FE sabbatical, as he pushed winner Jerome D’Ambrosio all the way to the line in Marrakesh, taking his first podium since Putrajaya in season 2.

Despite teammate Sam Bird taking the early glory in the team with a win in Santiago, it would be Frijns who would lead Envision Virgin’s title charge over the course of the season ending with two wins. One in trecherous conditions in Paris, where he nursed a damaged front wing for the majority of the race, and another in the tense season finale in New York, where he confidently overtook both Buemi and Alexander Sims to take a lead he would not lose.

He was also promoted to a podium in Hong Kong after teammate Bird was penalised for causing Andre Lotterer’s retirement late in the race.

Frijns had his fair share of bad luck, being taken out on the last lap in Sanya by Buemi, and then not scoring a single point between his two wins due to various incidents and accidents, costing him the chance to fight for the title. But, like in these rankings, he just pipped Mitch Evans in the championship (Taking 4th by a single point) to cap off a great effort.

Now that the prodigal son has returned, can he take the title in season 6?

1. Jean-Eric Vergne

Who else but JEV? Jean-Eric Vergne had an amazing season to become the first double Formula E champion, and he may be asking himself how the title fight went down to the final race of the season. 

Vergne may have felt he could of wrapped up the season earlier if he secured the win in opening round of the season in Ad Diriyah. But a spike in power meant he used over 200kW of energy in the race which gave him a drive-through penalty.  Despite the penalty he still carved his way through the field to finish second to Antonio Felix Da Costa.  

From Marrakesh to Hong Kong the season did not go the way the reigning champion was expecting. A collision with Antonio Felix Da Costa in Santiago resulted in a DNF, which started run of bad luck. The following two rounds in Mexico and Hong Kong saw Vergne finish with no points.

After Hong Kong Vergne found himself 13th in the standings, and it was looking like a lot of hard work was needed for Vergne to come back into title contention. 

Vergne started his comeback in Sanya qualifying second to Oliver Rowland and surprising him by making an opportunistic move at the last corner, securing his first victory of the season, signalling his resurgence in the second half of the season. 

He claimed two more victories from pole position in Monaco and Bern, which added to 3rd place in Berlin gave his season a much needed turn around, as he went into the final weekend of racing 32 points clear of the chasing pack; an advantage which proved insurmountable in the end.

Bern in particular was an exceptional performance as Vergne took pole despite being disadvantaged by being in the first qualifying group, and then defended inch perfectly from Mitch Evans, keeping his cool even as the rain began to fall.

With 5 races where Vergne failed to score any points, the Parisian himself would probably admit that his season has been far from perfect, but despite his difficulties he still managed to overcome them to be crowned season five champion, whilst also claiming a unique place in history as the first double and back-to-back championship winner.

With these facts in mind it was an unanimous decision that Jean Eric Vergne deservedly earned the number one spot in our list.

Check back next time for our teams’ standings.

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