Frenchman Jean-Eric Vergne became the first driver to successfully defend the Formula E title as a seventh-placed finish in the final race of the 2018-19 season in New York Sunday was enough to wrap up the championship.
The Techeetah driver stayed out of trouble in a race won by Dutchman Robin Frijns (Envision Virgin Racing) as his main rivals were unable to mount a significant challenge in the 13th and final round of the supercharged season.
Polesitter Alexander Sims (BMW i Andretti Motorsports) finished second with former champion Sebastien Buemi in third on the street circuit in Brooklyn.
Nissan e.dams driver Buemi, who won the first of the New York doubleheader Saturday, saw his slim chances of overhauling Vergne evaporate when he failed to win the three points on offer for claiming pole in qualifying.
But the Swiss driver clinched second in the final standings as the other title contenders Lucas di Grassi of Brazil and New Zealand’s Mitch Evans clashed on the last lap and failed to finish.
It was a relief for Vergne, who was out of the points Saturday after a last-lap tangle with ex-Formula One star Felipe Massa, temporarily loosening his grip on the title
’We have done it again, we have done it again,” screamed Vergne over race radio, celebrating a double triumph with Techeetah sealing the teams’ championship despite his teammate Andre Lotterer failing to finish.
“It was very stressful, Vergne admitted. “Yesterday did not go to plan, I was just managing the situation.
“There are so many emotions in my body and I’m very proud of the team.” added the 29-year-old, who finished 17 points clear of Buemi in the final standings.
Audi Sport’s di Grassi, who appeared to be the main challenger going into the final race weekend, finished third, with Frijns, who was winning for the second time this season, up to fourth.
His victory capped a wide open series, which has seen nine different winners from eight different teams in 13 races, with the trend set to continue in its sixth season with motorsport titans Mercedes and Porsche extending the grid to 24 cars.