02:28 - Source: CNN
Lucas di Grassi eyes back-to-back Swiss titles

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Jean Eric-Vergne wins Bern E-Prix

Extends title lead to 32 points

CNN  — 

In a four-way last lap tussle, it was Jean Eric-Vergne who kept his nerve to win the Bern E-Prix Saturday to boost his hopes of become Formula E’s first back-to-back world champion.

The Swiss capital was staging its first Formula E race, marked by a first-lap pile up then a thrilling climax as a late rain shower made the 2.75km, 14-turn circuit treacherous.

Vergne, from pole, had led throughout, but was coming under constant pressure from New Zealand’s Mitch Evans (Jaguar Racing), with home hope Sebastien Buemi (Nissan e.dams) and his DS Techeetah teammate Andre Lotterer taking close order.

With the Frenchman driving cautiously to ensure he made no late mistakes, it left Evans and the other chasers with a chance of victory, Vergne holding them off as all four finished nose to tail.

In a dramatic twist, Lotterer was later given a 22-second penalty, dropping him to 14th, for ignoring a pit exit light, wrecking his championship chances.

Vergne has a 32-point lead over Berlin winner Lucas di Grassi and in a commanding position to claim successive titles, with just the New York double-header remaining.

READ: Di Grassi steps up title charge with Berlin win

‘That was a hell of a race,” said Vergne, who was claiming his third win of the season and third podium in a row.

“Nothing is won in Formula E, but 32 points is pretty good and more than last year,” he added.

Vergne was boosted before the start by qualifying fastest and seeing main title rival di Grassi only manage 19th spot.

The race was almost immediately red flagged after a collision between Mahindra Racing’s Pascal Wehrlein and Geox Dragon’s Max Gunther, with Wehrlein’s teammate Jerome d’Ambrosio also shunting into Robin Frijns of Virgin Racing.

Di Grassi fumes

Di Grassi (Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler) had weaved his way through the field in the ensuing chaos, but race stewards ruled that the overtakes were under a yellow flag and that restart would be in original grid order, much to his disappointment.

“This is completely wrong,” said di Grassi, who found support from former F1 star and fellow Brazilian Felipe Massa, competing in his first season in Formula E.

READ: Mercedes and Porsche to enter 2019/20 championship

Di Grassi did move into the points in eventual ninth spot following Lotterer’s demotion, but his title bid hangs by a thread.

Evans was also left frustrated that he could not convert the obvious race pace of his car into a victory, unable to find a way past the wily Vergne despite looking the quicker on the undulating street circuit.

Former champion Buemi finished a fine third in his home race, with Britain’s Sam Bird promoted to fourth.

The result has left Techeetah with a commanding 43-point lead in the constructors’ title race over Audi Sport ahead of the championship finale in the Big Apple next month, with Vergne on the verge of making Formula E history.