The ABB FIA Formula E World Championship is entering the final stretch with four drivers pulling away from the pack in the Drivers’ World Championship standings and only four races remaining across two double-header weekends.
The 2022 SABIC London E-Prix is the first of those two weekends, with Round 13 this Saturday and Round 14 on Sunday at the ExCeL London event venue in the heart of historic Docklands in the east of London.
Formula E made its first trip to ExCeL London last season, and in a first for an international race series raced on an indoor/outdoor circuit layout which offered up a completely unique challenge for drivers and teams to get their heads around. Both those races were won by British drivers with Jake Dennis and Mahindra Racing’s former driver Alex Lynn making home advantage count.
While only a handful of fans were permitted into the venue last year because of Covid restrictions, this weekend sees full capacity grandstands open to the public for the first time for a Formula E race at ExCeL London.
Fans in London are set for a dramatic home race weekend where any one of the top four drivers could take the lead or see their title chances take a big hit before Season 8 concludes in Seoul on 13 and 14 August.
Last time out in New York City, Mercedes-EQ’s Stoffel Vandoorne regained the advantage at the top of the Drivers’ World Championship after a mixed set of results across two hotly-contested rounds in the Big Apple.
The Belgian turned an 11-point deficit into an 11-point advantage over ROKiT Venturi Racing driver Edoardo Mortara. The Swiss’ struggles opened the door for the rest of the top four, also including Mitch Evans (Jaguar TCS Racing) and DS TECHEETAH’s Jean-Éric Vergne, to close the gap – but not everybody was able to capitalise, with the Frenchman enduring a particularly tough weekend with no points.
The whole top four are still split by fewer points than are on offer in any single Formula E round, and with two races in London followed by a double-header in Seoul still to come, the season may be heading towards its climax but there’s still time for it all to change.
Vandoorne’s trip to the Big Apple could scarcely have been a better one. The Mercedes-EQ driver followed up a fourth-placed finish on Saturday with a podium and second place on Sunday while those around him in the title fight faltered.
There was a clear lead-four heading into the New York City E-Prix double-header, with Mortara topping the pile after securing a podium in Jakarta and a third win of the season in Marrakesh.
Mortara struggled to make real inroads in New York, however, after failing to make it through the Groups in qualifying on Saturday, with the ROKiT Venturi driver also slapped with a post-race penalty which saw him demoted from a fighting fifth position to ninth, while Vandoorne came home fourth.
On Sunday, a brake-by-wire issue scuppered the ROKiT Venturi driver’s qualifying session, leaving him marooned right at the back of the pack for the start of Round 12 and with it all to do again. The best he could manage was to fight to 10th and a single World Championship point with Vandoorne winding up second.
Eleventh in Round 11 for Evans was rescued by a combative drive to third on Sunday, but Vergne will be scrabbling for a far better return in London after gaining no points at the worst possible moment with the season reaching its climax.
This meant an 11-point advantage for Mortara became an 11-point deficit to Vandoorne come the chequered flag on Round 12. A 22-point swing at the stage of the season is huge, and with NYC providing the most recent evidence, we may well see another of that top four break clear before the final chequered flag falls in London on Sunday.
The Teams’ World Championship is equally hard-fought, with Mercedes-EQ pulling 10 points on second-placed ROKiT Venturi Racing post-New York. DS TECHEETAH managed to draw level on points in joint-second, with the team’s CEO Mark Preston in confident form after António Félix da Costa steered the team to a maximum in Round 12.