63 not out: Comparing the four drivers to race at every Formula E weekend
Experience doesn't always equal success...
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Despite being an infant series in comparison to other international motorsport championships, Formula E has a driver line-up that goes unmatched. Nearly seventy drivers from all corners of the racing world have competed in the series but only four drivers have contested each weekend.
In a championship where the racing is close and the result not always the most predictable, these four drivers have had their fair share of action during their stints in the sport and each with varying levels of success.
Jérôme d'Ambrosio - 3 wins - 2 poles - 9 podiums - 306 pts
Mahindra's Jérôme d'Ambrosio hasn't had the success in FE that many thought he might achieve. After showing promise in the first two seasons by finishing inside the top five in the championship come the end of the season, it has been somewhat of a downward trend since then.
Racing with the Dragon Racing outfit, the Belgian finished the first season as 'best of the rest' behind the incandescent title bout. A victory in race eight at Berlin, in addition to a double podium in the London finale had the 34-year-old slated for big things.
Slipping to 18th in the standings in Season 3 marked the lowest point in his tenure so far, scoring 13 points across 12 races.
Over his four seasons with the American squad, the Belgian was quicker and more successful than long-term teammate Loïc Duval, evidence in favour of his ability in a series where the outperforming the driver across the garage is crucial.
Change was very much needed, and with Dragon showing their intent in hiring then F2 star Maximillian Günther, D'Ambrosio's performances didn't align with the targets of the Penske-backed squad.
So came a move to Mahindra, a team challenging towards the front; a step promising silverware.
The move did appear to be baring fruit early on with the Belgian scoring his third victory and first with the team at only his second appearance with the Indian squad in Marrakech Season 5.
As is so often the case, the taste of champagne wore off very quickly, and teammate Pascal Wehrlein has seemingly had the upper hand over the remainder of their 17 races together, with the German more often in the fight for race wins than D'Ambrosio.
This season marks a crucial period in the Belgian's career. A difficult start to Season 6 leaves him 18th in the standings after five races, and with Wehrlein leaving the team during the COVID-19 interruption, D'Ambrosio must step up and accept the pressure and spotlight that comes with being the lead driver.
Daniel Abt - 2 wins - 2 poles - 10 podiums - 390 pts
Once a hotshot in junior single seater formulae, Daniel Abt never reached the heights in international competition that one would have expected, and has slipped to being a consistent midfield runner.
The 27-year-old has contested every FE weekend to date with Audi Sport ABT, with his family's renowned motorsports team running the German marques prioritised racing programme. Despite being at what is considered one of the biggest teams in the series, Abt has never been able to reach the top echelons of competition.
He hasn't exactly had it easy. Across the garage for the entirety of his tenure in the championship, Abt has had 'Mr. Formula E' himself, Lucas Di Grassi. The Brazilian driver has continually outclassed, out-performed, and out-scored his junior teammate, sparing Abt no time in the spotlight.
There have been glimpses of promise, however, such as Abt taking his first FE podium in only the fifth ever race in Miami. A maiden victory would have to wait until Mexico in Season 4, and that streak was made even more dramatic by the fact Di Grassi had tallied six wins.
Arguably the highlight of Abt's 63 races was a dominant display in front of home fans in Berlin Season 4. The German driver was nothing short of untouchable, taking pole, fastest lap, and leading every lap en route to his second victory, scoring what was the first ever 'Grand Slam' in FE history.
That victory, only three races after his first triumph in Mexico, and a double podium in the season finale in New York, marked his best season in the sport, and his strong performances helped contribute to Audi's only Teams' title to date.
Unfortunately for Abt controversy has brought a somewhat promising career in FE to an early exit. Whilst competing in the series' 'Race At Home Challenge' during the COVID-19 pandemic, the German was found to have called upon a professional sim-racer to take his place during the fifth round at Berlin.
Suspicions from other drivers lead to an investigation, and the 27-year-old was found to have cheated, losing his drive at Audi. It remains unclear as to whether we will see Abt back in a FE car.
Sam Bird - 9 wins - 5 poles - 18 podiums - 570 pts
Undoubtedly, if there is a driver who can be relied on to maximise his race car week-in week-out, Envision Virgin Racing's Sam Bird fits the bill with ease. The British driver has shown consistent speed across both Gen1 and Gen2 cars, holding the title of being the only driver to win a race in every FE season.
His talent was immediately evident, scoring a podium in the Season 1 Beijing round, before taking to the top step of the podium at the following round in Putrajaya. Bird would round off the inaugural season fifth in the standings, 40 points off champion Nelson Piquet Jr, but a home victory in London would dampen that margin.
Bird has finished in the points in nearly three quarters of all FE events, aiding him to consistently strong championship positions come season's end.
However, the Envision Virgin driver is arguably the best driver yet to win an FE title. He came close in Season 4 where the British driver headed into the New York finale as the man best placed to snatch the title from Jean-Eric Vergne's grasp. Two victories and three podiums that year had lead him to third in the championship, which would be his best result to date.
For all his speed and race craft, Bird is missing a score in one column of his statistics; championship wins. The British driver is unfortunate in carrying the mantra of best driver to not win a title.
It is difficult to place a finger on why the nine-time race winner has failed to take home the biggest trophy in the sport. Bird has lead the championship on multiple occasions, or at least been within striking distance of the leader, but has never been able to stay in championship contention throughout the season.
Victory in the opening race of Season 6 was a clear statement of intent from the British driver, but two DNFs and a surprising difficulty to break into the top ten has seen Bird fall to 38 points off the top of the pile.
Bird's loyalty to EVR speaks volumes of his character, there's no question that manufacturer teams have come knocking, but the Brit sees the Audi-powered outfit as his best bet at claiming that elusive overall trophy.
How long before Bird is crowned champion? Imminently.
Lucas Di Grassi - 2016-2017 Champ - 10 wins - 3 poles - 31 podiums - 757 pts
Of the drivers to make the '100% Club', Brazilian ace Lucas Di Grassi is by far the most successful. The 35-year-old has become the poster boy for the all-electric series, and it's easy to see why.
With the most points scored in FE, Di Grassi is a driver who will bring home a healthy score of points every weekend, shown by the incredible statistic that the Audi Sport ABT driver has finished on the podium in nearly half of all FE events to date.
Di Grassi took the top step of the inaugural FE race in Beijing, an oft forgotten event considering the jaw-dropping final lap. That first race would set the trend for the Brazilian's career, steering clear of drama and taking the opportunity when his rivals falter.
Speaking of rivals, the Audi ace is locked in a heated rivalry with Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi, and the two went head-to-head in the early seasons, exchanging championship blows in Seasons 2 and 3. Vastly different in their approaches to racing, Di Grassi's focused demeanour strikes vivid contrast to Buemi's explosive character. Notably Di Grassi's sole championship victory in Season 3 came amidst a Buemi meltdown in the Montreal finale.
The Season 5 race in Mexico would epitomised his ability to keep cool under pressure, managing a hectic race to snatch the win from Pascal Wehrlein as the checkered flag waved.
A clear measure of the Brazilian driver's success has been in comparison to his teammate, Daniel Abt. Over the course of their 63 races together, Di Grassi has had the measure of his junior stablemate tallying nearly double the points, 757 to 390. Such domination not only shows the 35-year-old's pace, but also his consistency, a factor key to success in a series that prides itself on a level playing field.
Although the championship victory might be the stand out result his five seasons so far, a string of results at the end of Season 4 emphasises just how good Di Grassi really is.
Plagued by reliability issues, two non-scores and two DNFs at the start of the season would see Di Grassi hold a 71 point deficit to championship leader Jean-Eric Vergne. A ninth place finish at Mexico would be his first points of the season, but now a margin of nearly 80 points to his French rival left Di Grassi out of the championship fight.
What would follow would be one of the best series of results in FE history. Di Grassi would finish on the top step of the podium twice, and take a half-dozen second places on a comeback that would see him climb to second in the standings come the checkered flag in New York. He would finish the closest to an untouchable Vergne.
A strong team leader, and a rocket on track, Di Grassi is unfortunate to only have one title. His continual success in the series does, however, make him deserved of the 'Mr. Formula E' moniker.