BERN, Switzerland – Jean-Eric Vergne held off the advances of Mitch Evans and weathered a late rain shower to win the Swiss E-Prix Saturday, padding his ABB FIA Formula E Championship lead in the process.
The DS TECHEETAH driver led from lights-to-flag, picking-up three points for winning the Julius Baer pole position nd pulling away from his nearest rivals in the championship chase – building a buffer before heading to the season finale in New York.
However, it wasn’t a walk in the park for Vergne, who was hurried and hassled by Evans all the way to the checkered flag. The Panasonic Jaguar Racing pilot put pressure on Vergne, looming large in his mirrors, but was unable to pass with the Frenchman making his car as wide as possible.
Despite trying to take the initiative and activating Attack Mode earlier than expected, Vergne mirrored every move Evans made and hung on to victory with an assured and astute drive. Not even a light sprinkling of rain in the latter stages could dampen Vergne’s mood.
“I arrived here like a zombie after Le Mans but nevertheless, I think the team helped me massively to do a good job,” said Vergne. “They gave me a fantastic car, especially in qualifying. At the end of the race I was definitely slower than Mitch – he was really on it. I wasn’t that fast, but I wasn’t taking any massive risks either, particularly in the last laps when the rain came. I couldn’t believe it… my engineers were telling me rain was coming and I could see the drops on my visor. Nothing is comfortable in Formula E and everything can change so quickly. It’s a good lead – it’s a bigger lead than the one I had last year – but I’m not thinking about it too much. I’ll arrive in New York with the same wish to win the race and do the job. Simple as that.”
Sebastien Buemi brought his Nissan e.dams car home in third to round out the podium. Buemi beat Andre Lotterer at the line, but Lotterer later dropped down the order after being handed a post-race time penalty for ignoring the pit exit light.
With Lotterer’s penalty applied, Sam Bird was promoted to fourth – making the most of his good fortune after suffering a puncture in the skirmishes at the start, that eventually led to the race coming to a stop.
The race was temporarily suspended following a crash in the first corner, with Pascal Wehrlein and Maximilian Gunther blocking the path for the rest of the pack – allowing Bird to return to the pits and change tires.
Although he got caught-up in the first-corner collision, Gunther gathered his composure and carried his car to a career-best fifth position. Daniel Abt was a place further back in sixth, ahead of Alex Lynn in seventh and Felipe Massa in eighth.
Lucas di Grassi leapt up the field to ninth after a lacklustre qualifying left him in a lowly grid slot. The final points-paying position was filled by Stoffel Vandoorne, who also vaulted up the order from 15th to 10th.