The Formula E Championship makes its debut in Bern this weekend as the all-electric series holds its second Julius Baer Swiss ePrix.
Reigning champion Jean Eric-Vergne leads the Drivers’ Championship by just six points ahead of Season 3 champion Lucas Di Grassi. The Brazilian won in Zurich last year while Vergne will want to forget the 2018 race in which he finished 10th.
Here, we take a look at the main talking points ahead of Saturday’s race:
We’ll tell you what’s true. You can form your own view.
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Battle of the Champions forming
Season 5 has been the most unpredictable season of Formula E ever, but as we enter the final two race weekends a clear struggle for the title has emerged between two former champions: Season 3’s Lucas di Grassi and Season 4’s Jean-Eric Vergne.
Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler’s Di Grassi, who trails Vergne by just six points, won in Zurich last June and will go into this year’s race doubly confident of victory after a winning performance in Berlin. Vergne had a nightmare race last year, suffering a number of penalties, and had to settle for just one point. The Frenchman will hope a change in location will improve his chances here.
Vergne and Di Grassi are the only drivers to have won two races this season and both are in contention to make history as the first driver to win a second Championship.
But the breakaway pack will be chasing hard
While Vergne and Di Grassi look set for a titanic fight, there is a chasing pack which will keep them honest as any could leave Switzerland top of the standings. The leading pair, along with Vergne’s DS Techeetah teammate André Lotterer, BMW’s António Félix da Costa and Envision Virgin Racing’s Robin Frijns, are separated by just 21 points in the top five of the drivers’ Standings.
With 25 points on offer for a race win, there is every chance we could have a new leader going into the New York City double-header finale next month.
Of the five, Lotterer is the only driver yet to win a race this term. The German has two second-place finishes this season but will be fired up after a disappointing showing in Berlin last time out in which he started at the back of the grid, having failed to begin his flying lap in qualifying before the session ended.
Could this be Buemi’s perfect week?
No Formula E driver has more race victories than Nissan e.dams driver Sebastien Buemi with 12. However, the Season 2 Champion has struggled for points this season, lying in 10th through a combination of difficulties on track and pure bad luck.
If there was ever a time for the 30-year-old to shine it will be this Saturday to round off what could be the perfect week. The Swiss driver won the 24 Hours of Le Mans last weekend for Toyota, alongside Formula One legend Fernando Alonso, and now has a home race to look forward to.
Buemi finished fifth in Zurich last year and will undoubtedly be desperate to shine in another home race just an hour from where he was born. He gave the locals a preview of this season’s new Gen2 last month with a demonstration drive through the streets of Bern. The Swiss fans, though, will be hoping for more than just an exhibition from their golden boy on Saturday.
Can Audi turn the tables on Techeetah again?
With Vergne and Lotterer occupying first and third position in the Drivers’ Championship, DS Techeetah team look well placed to claim the Teams’ Championship title for Season Five and rid memories of last year.
As an Audi customer team last season, Techeetah went into the final New York double-header top but were overhauled at the last stage by the full Audi team as Di Grassi and Daniel Abt finished first and second on Saturday and second and third on Sunday.
And it is Audi who seem the only team with a chance of stopping Techeetah again. Berlin was a good home race for Audi, with Di Grassi claiming victory and Abt finishing sixth. But with three races to go, and 25 points the gap, expect a major contest in the final three races.
Formula E returns to Switzerland
In 2018, Formula E brought top-level motorsport back to Switzerland for the first time in 64 years as Zurich hosted the tenth race of Season Four of the Formula E Championship. This season the sport moves 100km southwest to Bern for the inaugural race in the country’s capital.
The track includes a spectacular view on the river Aare and travels past the world-famous Bärengraben, an enclosure housing an eye-catching bear-pit (the bear long being the symbol of Bern).
An interesting fact about the city is that Switzerland officially has no capital; however, since 1848 Bern has been the seat of the Federal Parliament and government so is the de facto capital.
The provisional 2019/20 Formula E calendar was released last week and the major news is confirmation of London to the 14-race schedule. Season 6 will finish with a double-header in the capital on the weekend of 25/26 July.
The Championship has featured four London races in the past, both also double-header season finales, first in the opening year in 2015 and also the following season. Swiss star Sebastien Buemi and local boy Sam Bird were the victors in that first double-header and will both feature in Bern this Saturday.
The 2.4km track will be the first track to see the drivers pass from outside into a covered building, going through the ExCeL Centre.
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