Pandemonium in the Pits After Massive Pile Up
The final of the Voestalpine European E-Prix Trophy was held in Bern today — the Swiss city of the bear — where the crowds lined every inch of space 8 or 9 deep right around the length of the 2.750 km hard-core street circuit.
A new track in a new location, where everything is different, comes just when the drivers are probably looking for stability, as they head into the final few races in the 2018/19 ABB FIA Formula E series.
And it really was a fun and challenging narrow track with sharp corners, multiple surfaces, manholes, broken tarmac, extreme cambers, an overly long pit, topped by huge changes in elevation. There was no room for error, and energy conservation was key. More about the track, the European series, and the city of Bern.
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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2019 ABB FIA Formula E Racing News
2019 PARIS E-PRIX
Frijns Takes First Win in Formula-E after Frantic Race in French Capital
Robin Frijns, racing for Envision Virgin Racing, persevered through tricky weather conditions to cling on to victory in a frantic race on the streets of the French capital.
Mitch Wins for NZ and Panasonic Jaguar Racing
SANYA STREET CIRCUIT, CHINA - MARCH 23:
Showdown in Sanya sees Vergne clinch the win on the city's seafront.
Jean-Eric Vergne (FRA), DS TECHEETAH, (Photo by Alastair Staley / LAT Images)
The DS TECHEETAH team celebrates victory during the Sanya E-prix at Sanya Street Circuit on March 23, 2019 in Sanya Street Circuit, China. (Photo by Sam Bloxham / LAT Images)
BREAKING NEWS: AFTER A PENALTY, THERE HAS BEEN A CHANGE IN PODIUM PLACINGS (SEE END)
Race 5 of the season was the 50th Formula E race and it was therefore fitting that the series was back in China where the very first Formula E race was held. Although that race was in Beijing while this 5th race of Season 5 was on the waterfront streets of downtown Hong Kong. It was also the 50th Formula E race for veteran Brazilian driver, Lucas di Grassi (Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler)
The rain held off yet again, but the track was in various degrees of wet and dry from an earlier downpour, making driving tricky especially over the painted areas of the street track which become like ice when wet. The track had 10 turns, six to the right and four to the left with mixed surfaces.
It was a game of cat and mouse between German, Andre Lotterer driving for DS Techeetah and Briton Sam Bird of Envision Virgin Racing, which ultimately ended in contact with Bird's claws causing a tyre blow-out.
All-Electric Car Sales In UK Doubled Again In February 2019
Demand for pure electric cars is now higher than supply
Positive news comes from the UK where the plug-in car market expanded in February by 36% to 2,104 at a decent 2.6% market share.
Results are quite encouraging in the “quietest month of the year ahead of crucial March plate change”, as plug-in hybrids managed to note small growth. The serious increase was made by all-electric cars, which moved up by more than 100% for the second month in a row.
- 731 BEVs (up 106% year-over-year)
- 1,373 PHEVs (up 15.4% year-over-year)
Vector and Chargetrip Partner to Ease Anxiety Amongst EV Owners at Busy Charging Stations
New Zealand's EV Owners are getting a welcome boost from New Zealand's largest Energy distributor Vector who has teamed up with Dutch start-up Chargetrip.
Range Anxiety vs Charge Anxiety
Range anxiety is a term often used to describe the stress EV users experience when their destination is or could be further than their car battery’s range, and they fear they could end up stranded on the side of the road. Charge anxiety is caused by the uncertainty of waiting lines at charge stations. Both are considered major barriers keeping people from switching to electric driving.
To put more control and freedom in the hands of EV users, Vector and Chargetrip are adapting a popular EV journey planning app for the New Zealand market, that equips EV drivers with journey planning information that is tailored to them, their trip, and their EV.
Topography and Weather will be taken into account when calculating range
The app is based on the popular Chargetrip service used by more than 50,000 EV drivers in Norway—which has the largest number of EV users per capita in the world. The app will offer Kiwi EV drivers route planning and navigation guidance, suggesting the optimal charge stops along the way.
To help fund the app’s adaptation to the New Zealand market, Vector and Chargetrip have been awarded a grant from Elemental Excelerator (Elemental)—a growth accelerator that has funded more than 50 projects globally.
Vector’s Group Chief Executive Simon Mackenzie said, “We are thrilled to be partnering with Chargetrip, with support from Elemental, to create a tool that improves the overall experience for EV owners, who we know have very different needs compared to drivers of internal combustion engines.
“Vector has long been committed to stimulating and facilitating uptake of EVs in New Zealand and we have a network of EV chargers in Auckland. We have invested in new EV related technologies such as Vehicle-to-Home, which allows EV’s to become mobile sources of energy and we are now excited to be working towards improving the user experience for EV drivers,” Simon said.
The app will also inform people about their CO2 savings per journey and will be compatible with every EV type regardless of make, model or configuration.
The app will include information for public charging locations throughout New Zealand, their availability (to help avoid queues), as well as real-time assessment of the environmental factors that can impact EV batteries, such as topography and temperature.
It will utilise data from NZ Transport Agency’s EVRoam database of public EV charging infrastructure. EVRoam collects data directly from electric vehicle charging infrastructure providers and freely distributes it to a wide range of transport maps, apps and websites.
Chargetrip's CEO Gideon van Dijk said, “Electric mobility is a crucial catalyst in the renewable energy transition. We are excited to partner with Vector and Elemental, who both have an impressive track record at moving the needle. Range anxiety, waiting lines, and complex logistics are some of the biggest hurdles to rapid EV adoption. We are committed to solving these barriers and empowering drivers to make the switch to a cleaner transportation.”
Ramsay Siegal, Elemental Excelerator’s Managing Director said, “We are proud to partner with Vector, a global leader in energy innovation, and help Chargetrip scale its pioneering smart navigation technology. This project is a perfect example of how startups and utilities can collaborate for transformative change, and we're excited to share lessons from New Zealand to support faster EV adoption worldwide.”