Jean-Éric Vergne was crowned 2017/18 ABB Formula E Champion today when he battled from the back of the grid to finish in fifth position. He wrapped up the championship by a margin of 30 points, with one race left to run.
Both Jean-Éric Vergne and team mate André Lotterer set the pace in this morning’s qualifying session, locking out the front row. However, a penalty for a power infringement meant that the TECHEETAH duo had their qualifying times deleted, forcing them to start the championship decider from the back of the pack in P18 and P19.
With championship rival Sam Bird starting up the road in P14, the race was on to gain as many positions as possible without compromising energy management and finish in the points. A strong race strategy and expert race craft allowed the drivers to battle together through the pack quickly to chase down and overtake Bird.
Both drivers had a clean car swap at the half-way point of the race and the drivers re-joined the action with the drivers’ championship in sight. A collision in the closing laps brought out the safety car and bunched up the pack, but Jean-Éric crossed the line in fifth to secure the Driver’s Championship, supported by team mate André in seventh.
As the only non-manufacturer team in the championship, TECHEETAH has had very limited testing opportunities and has had to rely on the skill of the entire team to create a race-winning package and earn the reputation of ‘The Giant Slayers.’
“I don’t have the words to describe how special this moment is for all of us. Many of us have been working towards this day since the birth of the championship, and even before that. Congratulations to Jean-Éric, his skill and race craft are exceptional. Today we have achieved something incredibly special and he and André have given us the best team spirit I have ever experienced.
“We had an uphill battle today to recover from our mistake which saw the guys starting at the back. They showed their true skill to produce an astonishing race result, one which would normally be considered far beyond that of a small customer team. Tomorrow, we will battle for the Team Championship too. We hope to do the impossible for a customer team and bring home the double.
“I’d like to add sincere thanks to our sponsors and partners- Efacec, Electra Meccanica, Dragon Coin, FOIN and Perkin Elmer – without whom we would not be here today,” said Mark Preston, Team Principal.
“CHAMPIONS! To describe this feeling is impossible – we have worked so hard this season and the pressure has been huge, but we battled hard and came out as winners. Thank you to everyone in the team and everyone who has supported us, you guys are amazing!” added Jean-Éric Vergne.
“What a day for our team. From the highest highs to the lowest lows, this team has shown time and time again that we have speed, skill and patience to be true champions. Today, my very good friend Jean-Eric achieved something so special. He has been flawless all season and it has been a pleasure to race alongside him. Tomorrow we will go in hunt of the team trophy too,” concluded André Lotterer.
Season four of the ABB Formula E Championship will come to a close tomorrow with race two of this double-header New York E-Prix. With the Drivers’ Championship secured, the focus is on winning the Team Standings. TECHEETAH currently sits 5 points clear of nearest rival, Audi Sport. The race commences at 15:05 local time.