We are now just three races from the end of the 2018/19 ABB FIA-Formula-E series but today's race, the 2019 Julius Baer Swiss E-Prix, is the final chance for the contenders to win the Voestalpine trophy. Five European E-Prix's contribute to the trophy, which started amongst the ancient ruins of Rome, then Paris, Monaco, Berlin and now coming to a head in Bern.
Best known for Toblerone chocolate, the Swiss City of Bears, Bern, has opened its roads to motorsport for the first time since 1954. It's a city of ups and downs and therefore it's not at all surprising that elevation will be an important component of the 2,750 km E-Prix track. The steep slopes and inclines have never before been seen in Formula E, making this a challenging finale for the 22 cars competing in the European Championship.
As they go to the start line, eight of the 22 drivers are in with a chance to win the trophy, including New Zealand's own Mitch Evans.
"With lots of character, surface and elevation changes, it's a real, hardcore street circuit," says Panasonic Jaguar Racing's Mitch Evans. "The downhill section into Turn 3 and 4 is going to be tough. You come in with a lot of speed, so there's no room for error. Most braking zones look quite difficult — that's going to be the scariest for us with the most consequences — I think it's going to be a complete rollercoaster but I'm looking forward to it."
Yes, it's going to be an exciting race, with no clear winner yet. Let's take a closer look at those who are in with a chance.
Favourite: Jean-Eric VERGE
The current Voestalpine leader is 29-year old Frenchman Jean-Eric Vergne, racing for DS Techeetah. Vergne won in Monaco and placed third in Berlin. Therefore he only needs a podium finish to clinch the 2019 European Trophy — that is unless Lotterer, di Grassi or Buemi get to climb onto the podium.
With the 2017/18 Championship Title to defend, and 102 points this season, the pressure will be on JEV. The charismatic driver started his motorsport career in karts at the tender age of 4. His long career has included 58 Formula One grand prix. In 2014 he made the switch to Formula-E, joining first Andretti Motorsport, then switching to Virgin Racing and now DS Techeetah. He has raced 53 E-Prix's with 7 wins and 19 podium finishes, making him one of the most experienced electric car drivers in the world.
The challenger - Andre LOTTERER
Despite not achieving a win yet this season, JEV's teammate Lotterer has placed on the podium often enough to be a serious contender. Any podium place could be enough for this German driver to take the trophy home.
Making a name for himself at a young age, 39-year old Lotterer made the switch from fossil fuel racing to electric last season.
The underdog - Mitch EVANS
Don't underestimate the Underdog. Mitch Evans has been in the points on nearly every race this season, including top of the podium in Rome.
Currently placing sixth in the championship series, Mitch is in with a chance. Just 33 points separate him from Championship leader JEV, so clinching the voestalpine European races trophy (with any podium finish) would provide a much-needed lift to Evan’s Championship hopes.
The 24-year old Kiwi driver has entered 34 E-Prix, with his maiden win in Rome, and 2 podium places. This is his third Formula-E series, during which he has remained with British racing outfit Jaguar. Evans started his motorsport career in karts at the age of six and won the NZ Grand Prix at the age of 16. Moving to GP2 in 2013 and aged just 18, he became the youngest driver in the field's history to stand on the podium after finishing third in Sepang, Malaysia.
The comeback – Robin Frijns
After a spectacular win in Paris despite pouring rain and hail, the Dutch driver Frijns has had a sensational return to form in the all-electric series but will it be enough to be crowned king of the voestalpine European races?
The strategist - Lucas di Grassi
One of the undisputed masters of the all-electric street racing series, Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler’s Lucas di Grassi has once again made up for lost ground in Europe. With a win in Berlin, the Brazilian driver now sits second in the Championship standings behind leader Jean-Eric Vergne. Should di Grassi reach the podium for the second time in the voestalpine European races, the Brazilian has a strong chance of clinching the trophy ahead of his second title challenge in New York City.
The rookie – Oliver Rowland
Rowland doesn't have the depth of experience, but he has managed to outperform his highly-seasoned Nissan e.Dams teammate Sebastien Buemi, who sits behind him tenth in the standings. With two podiums, one after finishing second in Monaco, the rookie will need to slot into the top two places on the podium to be in with a chance of lifting the voestalpine European races trophy ahead of New York.
The master - Sebastien Buemi
Going purely by career wins in Formula E, Nissan e.dams’ Sebastien Buemi is the most successful driver in the history of Formula E with 12 victories to his name. But despite his impressive win rate, the Swiss driver is yet to secure a win in the 2018/19 season. Now, in his local race here in Bern, Buemi will be desperate to top his second-place finish in Berlin and take the voestalpine European races trophy on home turf. To be in with a chance, Buemi will need to make it to the top two steps of the podium at the very least.
The outsider - Stoffel Vandoorne
So far, the 2018/19 Formula E season hasn’t been kind to newcomers HWA Racelab. With 38 points in total, the team sits ninth in the standings, 150 points adrift of leaders DS Techeetah. Despite the team’s overall position, driver Stoffel Vandoorne has enjoyed his first European Formula E campaign, scoring his first and only podium after finishing third in Rome. Nothing short of a win will enable the Belgian driver to lift the voestalpine European trophy here in Bern.
Home race hero Sebastien Buemi is 'confident' of ending his 29-race victory drought while the 'hardcore street circuit' leaves 'no room for error' as the drivers count down the hours until the 2019 Julius Baer Swiss E-Prix kicks off in Bern.
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