Zurich EPrix: A crazily historic weekend

This weekend just gone, the ABB FIA Formula E Championship visited Zurich in Switzerland, where the series would make history with the event becoming the first for the country after a 60 year ban was lifted in 2015 allowing motorsport to return to the country.

The weekend began with the World Motor Sport Council announcing the changes for Season Five of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship, including the introduction of timed races, a ‘hyperboost’ mode, and the new calendar which will commence in Riyadh in December and concluded in New York in July 2019.

Practice saw Di Grassi and Rosenqvist top the times, however the highlight of the sessions was an incident involving former teammates Jose Maria Lopez and Sam Bird. Sam, on a fast lap, was closing in on the Argentine quickly, however when Lopez went to let Sam through, Sam went to overtake, and whilst diving out from behind the Dragon, he braking causing him to spin out.

The Qualifying group draw had decided that the top 5 in the championship would head out in group one first, with those six to ten in the championship head out second, 11-15 in the championship third and the bottom five in the championship fourth.

This meant that championship leader Jean Eric Vergne would end up starting 17th, while rival Sam Bird made it through to superpole along with Mitch Evans, Jerome D’Ambrosio, Jose Maria Lopez and Andre Lotterer. Evans would end up taking his and Jaguar’s first pole in Formula E, with Lotterer Bird and D’Ambrosio behind. Lopez qualified fifth but would start eighth due to a three place penalty. This Promoted Lucas Di Grassi, Sebastien Buemi and Nico Prost up a position.

When the race got underway, Evans lead from pole. D’Ambrosio was falling quickly and Vergne was rising through the pack even quicker. Di Grassi had also been making moves and found it way past Sam Bird and Andre Lotterer and eventually Mitch Evans for the lead.

Vergne made his way all the way up to ninth, however when it came to overtaking Felix Rosenqvist, the Swede tried to defend too hard and ended up in the barrier. The Swede was able to continue, however left debris all over the track.  This brought out the full course yellow.

Everyone pitted under full course yellow, however for Jean Eric Vergne, there was trouble as his second car failed to start momentarily. The Frenchman dropped from sixth to ninth and had to make his way through the field once again.

However there was more drama for the championship leader as he, along with second placed Evans, third placed Lotterer, fourth placed Buemi and sixth placed Lopez were all under investigation for speeding under the full course yellow. They were all handed drive through penalties which promoted Bird to second and D’Ambrosio to third.

Lotterer ended up finishing fourth with Buemi fifth. Heidfeld ended sixth thanks to the penalties, pole sitter Evans dropped to seventh ahead of Da Costa, Turvey and Jean Eric Vergne rounding out the top ten.

This means that the gap between Vergne and Bird has been cut from 40 points to 23, and Lucas Di Grassi taking his first win of the season is up to third in the championship, however mathematically can no longer retain his championship.

This means that if Vergne finishes ahead of Bird in the first race in New York, the Frenchman should win the title, if not, the title will go down to the grand finale for the fourth straight season.

The 2018 New York City EPrix takes place on 14-15 July 2018.

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