Dutchman claims world championship glory despite struggling through a chaotic double-header.
Mercedes-AMG driver Nyck de Vries clinched the ABB Formula E World Championship in a dramatic double-header season finale in Berlin.
Thew 26-year-old Dutch driver could only manage 22nd and eighth place finishes in the two races on the Tempelhoff Airport street circuit, but that was enough to claim the crown in the seventh season of the electric single-seater series.
Mercedes-AMG had plenty of cause to celebrate, with de Vries and team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne doing enough to clinch the constructors’ championship.
De Vries goes from despair to delight
De Vries entered the weekend leading the championship, but was on the back foot after qualifying just 19th for the opening race. He made good progress early in the race, but a puncture forced him to stop and dropped him to 22nd.
That meant de Vries’s championship lead was cut to a single point for Sunday’s season finale, but the Dutchman’s path to the title was eased after early dramas for his main title rivals. But de Vries found himself right in the thick of a frenzied battle in the lower reaches of the top ten, and he survived several scrapes to finish eighth and clinch the crown.
Dennis and other titles hopefuls left in despair
The Berlin event marked the final Formula E event for BMW, and early in the second race it looked like Jake Dennis might claim a fairytale championship for the marque.
The British racer finished fifth in race one, but shortly after the start of the second race he seemed to have a clear path to glory. Jaguar’s Mitch Evans stalled at the start, and Edoardo Mortara ploughed into the back of him, prompting a red flag and eliminating both drivers – who were both in title contention.
That left Dennis in seventh at the restart, and with de Vries well down the order he was on course for the title, until a battery failure while he was lifting caused him to crash into the wall and out of the race.
It was a tough end to what has been a brilliant first Formula E season for Dennis – and hopefully he can secure a drive following BMW’s withdrawal.
Amazingly, such was the chaos in race two that Mortara, Dennis and Evans finished second, third and fourth in the final points.
Audi says au revoir in style
Berlin also marked Audi’s final weekend in Formula E, and Lucas di Grassi ensured the marque went out in style with victory in Saturday’s race. The Brazilian battled with the two DS Teecheetah cars early on, and in the closing laps of the race has to use his attack mode boost to fight past Norman Nato and Mortara for his second win of the season.
Nato ends the second in style
Venturi driver Nato might have missed out on Sunday, but the French driver excelled in Sunday’s chaotic outing, battling his way to the front and expertly managing a number of restarts to claim his maiden Formula E at the end of his first season.
Formula E continues to grow – but faces challenges
Formula E’s seventh season was its first as an official FIA world championship, and it is amazing to reflect on how far the car has come since its slow start (with far slower cars) in 2014. While it has still to win over some racing purists, it has developed its own brand of entertainment and both an enviable calendar of races and line-up of manufacturers.