Formula E returns to the Parisian streets for a third consecutive year this weekend. This season, which started in December when the all-electric championship visited Hong Kong, now only has five races remaining in the battle to decide the victor of the season four drivers’ title.
Currently Frenchman Jean-Eric Vergne looks to be the favourite, 18 points ahead of Sam Bird who is second in the standings, but recent races have left the former F1 driver craving more than just totalling up championship points. He wants wins, especially in front of his home crowd this weekend.
One of his main title rivals, Mahindra’s Felix Rosenqvist, seemed to pose a serious title threat last time out in Rome. Dominating over the weekend by securing SuperPole and leading the race for 23 laps suddenly came to a sharp halt when he hit a curb and broke his suspension forcing him out of the lead and the race completely.
“I hit the curb and just gave up the left rear suspension,” Rosenqvist told katyfairman.com. “At this point [in the season] you just want to finish races when you are leading. That is the main goal.”
Despite a fourth place finish at the Paris track last year, with team-mate Nick Heidfeld managing a podium, Rosenqvist felt Paris is the track he can and should improve on most on the current race calendar.
“I think Paris was the track that I felt we could improve and I think we have improved for many areas for that track. I am quite hopeful.”
As well as Rosenqvist, several drivers are hoping to have a stronger weekend around the French capital, including that of Briton Alex Lynn.
His first Paris ePrix and representing the DS Virgin Racing team, Lynn will want to improve from a disastrous weekend in Rome. Troubles in both practice sessions as well as prangs and an eventual retirement from the race means that Lynn is wanting to put Rome well behind him and give it his all in Paris.
“Rome was a race weekend to forget, to say the least. I had a really disappointing [race] day. But that is how it goes sometimes. It is an annoyance but it won’t set us back and we are going to reset and go again in Paris.
“I am really looking forward to Paris, it looks like a really mega track.”
Lynn’s team-mate, and the Rome ePrix winner, Sam Bird is one of the handful of drivers who is in contention for the title. In both years of the Paris ePrix, the seven-time Formula E race winner has lost out to a podium, despite his two respective team-mates Vergne and Jose Maria Lopez both claiming podium finishes at the ePrix in 2016 and 2017.
Looking back at fond memories from last year’s Paris ePrix, Lopez stated that “Paris is a good place for me. I achieved my first [Formula E] podium [here] last year [with DS Virgin Racing].”
So what can we actually expect from the Paris ePrix this weekend?
Despite a slow start to his season, Season 3 Champion Lucas di Grassi had great performance around the Paris track in its inaugural year back in 2016. Although last year he failed to finish the race and his team-mate Daniel Abt suffered a battery issue on the penultimate lap, both Audi drivers will look to prove they are back in business this weekend. Di Grassi also holds the lap record for this track; a 1:01.359.
Vergne has also proved his strong dominance at this Paris street circuit. Having finished second with DS Virgin Racing at the first Paris ePrix in 2016, he continued to have solid form last year. Despite qualifying well and then battling with Sebastien Buemi for the win, JEV experienced a fail in his steering which consequently sent him into the barriers and out of the race, defining it a “race to forget” to me last year. However, with Techeetah bringing their best performance in Formula E to date in recent races, it seems likely that JEV would be a front runner in front of his French fans this year. He even has a grandstand under his own name this year – high expectations!
Buemi has had podium success at all previous Paris ePrix, although his season so far has left little to be desired. A SuperPole and second place finish in Marrakesh is the pinnacle of his season four campaign and despite sitting fourth in the drivers’ standings, he sits 59 points behind that of championship leader Vergne.
Although the 14-turn 1.9km track might not bring us the best racing Formula E has to offer, it is still an important staple to the calendar being the home town of the FIA and located in a truly stunning location.
If you want to watch any of the Paris ePrix action, you can:
I also created a virtual ‘in pictures’ track walk if you are interested in seeing the full track. You can follow the link here.