In an unpredictable season finale, Nyck de Vries has reigned victorious to become ABB Formula E’s first ever World Champion as rookie Norman Nato put a mature display to take home his maiden victory.
Nobody could have foreseen the chaos that was about to unfold. Jaguar’s Mitch Evans looked to be on track for the title from third on the grid, but disaster soon struck for the Kiwi. His I-Type 5 was unable to get started off the line and the immobile car was completely unsighted as Edoardo Mortara collided with the back of him.
Two championship contenders were eliminated on the spot and saw a lengthy red flag deployed. De Vries would have been thanking his lucky stars as the Dutchman was narrowly able to squeeze past the chaos on the start.
Meanwhile, his teammate Stoffel Vandoorne held firm as the lights went out, managing to hold of Nissan e.dams Oliver Rowland and Mahindra’s Alexander Sims. With one ROKiT Venturi eliminated, it was all up to Nato who dived around the outside of Tom Blomqvist for fourth.
Dreams of giving BMW a fairy-tale farewell soon turned to a nightmare for Jake Dennis. Chasing down Sebastien Buemi into Turn 1, the British driver locked up, slid heavily into the wall and was forced to retire as a result. It was clear that emotions were running deep as title campaigns turned sour.
Vandoorne’s lead of the race also slowly began to disintegrate in a similar fashion to the DS Techeetah duo the previous day. Nato seized the race lead as the Belgian driver did not seem to mount a big defence. However, he would soon be dispatched by Sims and Rowland in quick succession.
Three title rivals eliminated in the opening minutes and the others languishing towards the back of the grid, one could have forgiven de Vries for keeping himself away from the battles, but that was clearly not the Dutchman’s way as he carved his way through from 13th on the grid up to fourth.
Antonio Felix da Costa’s chances of retaining the title were soon brough to a halt as Lucas di Grassi tried to sell his Portuguese rival the dummy and squeezed him into the wall. This triggered the Safety Car and wiped out all of Nato’s advantage out front.
A late decision to call the Safety Car in with 12 minutes plus one lap remaining threw the hunt for victory wide open as Nato, Rowland and Sims all battled for the lead. Not to be deterred, de Vries got in on the action and used his FanBoost to send a late move on Sims for third.
That could have spelt disaster for the Mercedes EQ driver as he was forced into a three-wide fight into Turns 2 and 3 and narrowly avoided contact with his teammate Vandoorne, dropping to seventh as a result.
Despite his struggles earlier on in the race, Vandoorne was once again on the charge and swept past Lotterer and Sims on to the podium. However, nobody could match Nato, whose controlled performance belied his rookie status and saw him finish two seconds clear of Rowland in second.
Vandoorne rounded out the podium in third. Lotterer had to settle for fourth ahead of Sims and teammate Pascal Wehrlein.
Having qualified down in 22nd place, Sam Bird put in a stunning display of speed to finish in seventh. The Jaguar driver seemed to come out of nowhere on the final lap to snatch the place away from an unsuspecting de Vries.
Rene Rast was another standout of the day, climbing his way up to ninth from 19th with a last lap overtake on Jean-Eric Vergne and taking the additional point for the TAG Heuer Fastest Lap in the process. Blomqvist closed out the points finishers in 10th in a brilliant performance for the NIO 333 team.
Crossing the line in eighth was more than enough for de Vries to seal his first ABB Formula E World Championship title with 99 points, two wins and four podiums. Less than 10 points separated the top four of de Vries, Mortara, Dennis and Evans but the 26-year-old’s advantage heading into the final weekend saw his lead hold firm despite difficulties in Qualifying.
It was glory all around the Mercedes EQ garage as he and teammate Vandoorne managed to do the double on the team’s home soil, jumping Jaguar to the top of the Teams’ Championship on 183 points to 177.
|1||Norman Nato||Rokit Venturi Racing|
|2||Oliver Rowland||Nissan e.dams||2.270|
|3||Stoffel Vandoorne||Mercedes-EQ Formula E Team||2.837|
|4||Andre Lotterer||Tag Heuer Porsche Formula E Team||7.105|
|5||Alexander Sims||Mahindra Racing||8.453|
|6||Pascal Wehrlein||Tag Heuer Porsche Formula E Team||8.847|
|7||Sam Bird||Jaguar Racing||10.473|
|8||Nyck de Vries||Mercedes-EQ Formula E Team||11.108|
|9||Rene Rast||Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler||12.189|
|10||Tom Blomqvist||NIO 333 Formula E Team||12.679|
|11||Jean-Eric Vergne||DS Techeetah||13.437|
|12||Robin Frijns||Envision Virgin Racing||13.748|
|13||Alex Lynn||Mahindra Racing||14.366|
|14||Sebastien Buemi||Nissan e.dams||14.692|
|15||Maximilian Guenther||Andretti Motorsport||15.528|
|16||Joel Eriksson||Dragon/Penske Autosport||15.940|
|17||Nick Cassidy||Envision Virgin Racing||16.306|
|18||Sergio Sette Camara||Dragon/Penske Autosport||16.961|
|19||Oliver Turvey||NIO 333 Formula E Team||21.076|
|20||Lucas di Grassi||Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler||35.155|
|21||Antonio Felix da Costa||DS Techeetah||DNF|
|22||Jake Dennis||Andretti Motorsport||DNF|
|23||Edoardo Mortara||Rokit Venturi Racing||DNF|
|24||Mitch Evans||Jaguar Racing||DNF|
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