It was a wonderful weekend for France, winning both the FIFA Soccer World Cup in Russia and the ABB Formula E Drivers Championship in New York City.
When FIA Formula E founder and CEO Agog first announced bringing a Formula E race to the streets of NYC, ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport driver Lucas di Grassi was quoted as saying: “A race in New York is for me and my fellow drivers like a small dream. Congratulations to everyone at Formula E who has worked so hard for it, and have now let this dream be a reality. Just imagine seeing the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan skyline from the pitlane! It will also be a sporting highlight as the track has a mix of fast sections, hairpin bends and a narrow infield directly on the waterfront."
Above: The NYC ePrix paddock area in Red Hook, Brooklyn with the NYC skyline in the background. (W. Rosenberg)
In the first race of the two-race NYC ePrix run on Saturday, July 14, 2018 di Grassi conquered the 14 turn race course and claimed his second win of the year on the circuit completing the 43 laps in 2 hours 30 minutes and 54 seconds. His NYC ePrix win was his second in a row, following on the heels of his win in Zurich on June 9th. di Grassi crossed the finish line less than one second ahead of ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport teammate, Daniel Abt. Last year’s dual NYC ePrix winner, DS Virgin Racing’s Sam Bird finished ninth and fell out of the driver’s championship running which was claimed by Jean-Éric Vergne, the French driver for the TECHEETAH Team who won the ABB Formula E World Champion after finishing fifth in Saturday’s race. di Grassi had previously claimed the 2016-17 Formula E driver’s Championship. For di Grassi, the NYC e-Prix marks his first race since becoming a father just eleven days ago.
Above: Saturday's NYC ePrix winner Lucas di Grassi rounding turn 12 (W. Rosenberg)
Sunday’s race looked like it might become the first ever Formula E race run in the rain. Early showers left the course wet for both the morning practice and the 11:00 am qualifying rounds. Just after qualifying finished, all action was suspended and the facility cleared of spectators as the threat of a severe thunderstorm on the waterfront course, coupled with the metal grandstands, posed a serious danger. When the race got underway shortly after 3:00 pm, the track had dried and the season champion, Jean-Éric Vergne, solidified his standing by winning Sunday’s race with di Grassi finishing second in the race and second in driver standings. Capturing the ABB Formula E Team Championship was ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport with drivers di Grassi and Abt leading the way.
Above and Below: Sunday morning's wet race course after early morning thunderstorms (W. Rosenberg)
A gracious winner, Vergne tweeted to last year’s NYC ePrix winner,
I want to thank my friend @sambirdracing for pushing us all the way this season.
Without you this title battle wouldn't have been possible and it's been a privilege to fight it out on track.
See you tomorrow mate!
Above: Sunday's NYC ePrix and ABB Formula E 2017-18 Season Champion Jean-Eric Vergne exiting turn 7 (W. Rosenberg)
Bird responded with an equally gracious post, tweeting,
We did our best. We knew today would be really hard and it was.
Very proud of our team for all the work.
We have maximized everything, including today.
Congrats to @JeanEricVergne on an awesome season.
Vergne summed it all up by tweeting,
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 who has supported us, you guys are amazing! #NYCEPrix