Can JEV move a step closer to the Formula E crown this weekend in Bern?
Is there any driver in the world that's experiencing the same kind of redemption as Jean-Eric Vergne? After being shoe-horned out of Formula One at the end of 2014, the likable Frenchman has found his feet in the all-electric world of Formula E, quickly cementing himself as one of the sport's absolute best drivers. And with there being just three rounds left in the 2018/19 championship, he holds a six point lead over Audi's Lucas Di Grassi, so can reborn again Vergne take an unprecedented back-to-back Formula E title?
The reigning champion couldn't of had a more rollercoaster defence of his title, with strong points finishes in Ad Diriyah and Marrakesh, followed by retirement and two finishes outside the points in Santiago, Mexico City and Hong Kong, many people began to wonder if DS Techeetah had the nerve to mount a serious attack on the championship, especially in Jean Eric's hands, as team mate Andre Lotterer had the stronger start to the season. But after a commanding victory in the Hawaiian-esque Sanya, the affable Frenchman was back on his game. A win in the principality of Monaco, followed with a strong podium finish in Berlin last time out have put Vergne atop the Driver's Championship with just three rounds to go. With a new race in Bern, Switzerland and a double header in New York City to finish things off, what are the biggest obstacles that stand in the way of our reigning Formula E champion?
16 Drivers still in with a mathematical chance of the title
If anyone was concerned that the new generation of Formula E car would create a bigger field spread amongst the teams, then this year's championship has quickly put that notion to bed. Eight different winners from the first eight races have made season 5 the most unpredictable yet. From Jean-Eric Vergne on 102 points at the top of the table, to BMW's Alexander Sims on 24 points in 16th position - all of the drivers in between still have a mathematical chance of becoming this season's Formula E champion. And with that kind of competition, no driver can afford to play the percentage game, and this has historically been some drivers' downfall. If Jean-Eric becomes embroiled in a race that he shouldn't be in on Sunday, then his championship could disappear faster than you can say Techeetah.
The new generation of Formula E cars have created a parity among teams, enabling unpredictable results.
A dangerously competitive team-mate
Over the last two seasons, the world has really come to love the chemistry between Techeetah team-mates Jean-Eric Vergne and Andre Lotterer, affectionately known as "Jeandre". But with both drivers still very much in the hunt, tensions will most like spill out of control, and if Lotterer gets a better result than Vergne this weekend in Switzerland, you can be sure that the friendship will be forgotten when it comes to race time at the New York double header. André Lotterer has been the most consistent driver this season. He's the highest placed driver in the standings without a win, but seven strong points finishes as well as two back-to-back podiums in Rome and Paris have thrown the German straight into championship contention, and along with that has given a huge headache to the DS Techeetah team.
Rain scheduled for race day in Switzerland
Until this season in Formula E, there has never been a race that had been affected by rain. But at the Paris ePrix in April, we had a deluge of rain that severely mixed up the order, and a patient and mature drive from Robin Frijns gave him the win. Looking at the weather forecast, there's an 80% chance of rain in the Swiss capital on Saturday, meaning we could see the race being affected once again. These Formula E cars have an instant power and torque that is not seen in other categories of racing, making them extremely difficult to control when aquaplaning. And also with the use of "road going" tires, the drivers must work double time in order to keep surface temperature in the rubber. While we know that Jean-Eric Vergne is handy in just about any road condition, you can bet that other drivers will try and use the rain to their benefit in order to keep their championship hopes alive. Some of the best drivers in the world have succumbed to treacherous conditions before in other Formulae, so I'm 100% sure that Vergne will have this in the back of his mind as we approach the weekend.
Formula E witnessed it's first rain affected race in Paris last April, with Envision's Robin Frijns taking the chequered flag.
Whichever way this season unfolds, there's no denying that Formula E has made a huge dent on the motorsport market this season. The series has provided close racing, unpredictable results, and a literal 16-way fight for the Drivers' Championship. And with Mercedes and Porsche entering the championship in 2019/20, there's absolutely no denying the credibility of this exciting and still youthful championship.
As for Jean-Eric Vergne, the F1 nearly-man has his eyes set on retaining his Formula E crown, which would surely put him back in the conversation of some F1 teams should be accomplish that. Although Formula E is becoming a genuine career move these days, there's no doubting that JEV would love another crack at Formula One. He's more mature, devilishly fast, excellent in wheel to wheel combat and consistently outperforming his machinery. But there's 15 other drivers that will have a say in this before it all comes to a conclusion next month in New York City.
Be sure to tune in to the Bern ePrix this weekend to witness the drama unfold as we head towards a dramatic conclusion of season five.