Down to the Wire: Formula E Championship Contenders

Next weekend, the Formula E championship finale will be in Berlin, and if you’ve been keeping up, you’ll know that it is still anyone’s game. Formula E is one of the most competitive series out there, and it’s proven by the fact that 18 out of 24 drivers can still win the championship with only 2 races to go. So what drivers have the best chances to win? Let’s find out.

Written by Chloe Harper Daly

August 12, 2021

Now, if we’re going to pick this apart, first of all, we need to discuss the points system. Whoever gets the fastest lap in their group qualifying gets one point whether they get to super pole or not. The driver who claims superpole then gets 3 points. The top 10 finishers in the race receive 25, 18, 15, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2, 1 points with 25 for the win and 1 point for 10th. The driver with the fastest lap also receives a further point if they finish in the top ten. On one race day, there is a maximum of 30 points up for grabs, meaning during a doubleheader like our last two races, there’s a maximum of 60 points available. 

 

The current leader is Nyck De Vries, with 95 points, meaning anyone with 40 points and above is still in championship contention. If we are realistic, a driver like Alex Sims, the last person in contention with 44 points, could only win the championship if he achieves 51 out of the 60 points available in Berlin. He would only be able to accomplish this if the top contenders don’t score any points. While everything is possible in formula E and the Mahindra car has been a proven race winner, the possibility of people like Sam Bird and Robin Frijns not scoring a single point is unlikely. So let’s slim it down by going off who is most consistent and closest to the championship.

 

We’ll start with reigning champion Antonio Felix Da Costa. There is no doubt he has a fire in him to win again this year, especially since he only scored 4 points last weekend. He said on his Instagram he wanted to win this championship more than the previous. So how can he do it? Unfortunately for him, he still has the disadvantage of group 1 qualifying in Berlin being 5th in the championship. However, my mantra is “anything can happen in Formula E.” In London, we saw Nyck De Vries make superpole from group 1, so it is possible, though the chance is slim. There’s a bigger chance of someone driving through the pit lane under the safety car to overtake 8 people and come out in the lead. Oh, wait, no that was just round 13. A podium is what Da Costa really needs in Berlin to give himself a chance.

 

Next, let’s go to the top of the standings with Nyck De(serves an F1 seat) Vries. In 46% of the races, he has scored points, and no doubt this consistency has helped him rise to P1. He had a similar points scoring percentage as a rookie last year, but the difference is this year, everyone else is much less consistent. It isn’t easy to compare this season with the previous year because the championship took place in 9 days at the same track with 3 different layouts. This year we have 8 different tracks with weeks in between each race, so the statistics can’t really be compared.

Nyck de Vries at the London E-Prix (Photo via @MercedesEQFE on Twitter)

In contrast to De Vries, his teammate, Stoffel Vandoorne, is down in 13th as his season has been struck with bad luck. Being on 63 points means he can still win the championship but would need more luck than he’s had this year to make it possible. Their team, Mercedes EQ, is 2nd in the constructors’ standings with a 7 point gap to leaders Envision Virgin Racing so it is possible that even if neither wins the drivers’ championship, the team could come home with the constructors’ trophy.

Top of the team championship currently is Envision Virgin Racing. Their drivers have the smallest gap between teammates in the standings. We have Robin Frijns in 2nd with 89 points and rookie Nick Cassidy in 7th with 76 points. The closest Robin Frijns has been to winning a championship was when he placed 4th in 2019 and there is no doubt his calm manner has helped him secure his spot in the current standings and possibly that first championship win. If Nick Cassidy manages to win the title he would be the first rookie to win, not including the inaugural season. He would need a solid race win to achieve that feat.   

Championship leaders Envision Virgin Racing on track at the London E-Prix (Photo via @EnvisionVirgin on Twitter)

Jaguar seemed to be dominating the season up until recently. They have had their best season in Formula E driven by the power duo of Sam Bird and Mitch Evans. Evans is in 8th with 75 points, so all he can hope for is a podium to help himself and the team in the fight. The London E-Prix was Bird’s home race, but he had the opposite of a home field advantage, not doing well in both rounds and dropping to 3rd in the standings. The Jaguar has the pace for a redemption drive in the final two races, but he is in group 1 for qualifying in round 14, so his chance of getting into the super pole shootout is unlikely. However, as I’ve said anything can happen in Formula E. Die hard FE fans know how many times Bird has come close to winning the championship. Certainly this is his year; the British driver deserves it after having so much bad luck. Anyone who has followed formula e since the start will know how many times Sam Bird has come close to winning this championship. This year has to be his year. He deserves it after so much bad luck. 

 

In London, Alex Lynn had pace in his Mahindra that we hadn’t seen all year. He was able to manage back to back podiums, including a win at home scoring vital points in the championship. He also had his best qualifying performance of the year securing super pole and the extra 3 points for his championship. He is currently 6th with 78 points, and there’s no doubt last race weekend will bring a determination and fire he hasn’t had all year. The performance will give him a boost of confidence to carry through to rounds 14 and 15. He will be in group 1 but let’s say he finishes in the points in round 14 and drops to 7th. That would put him into group 2 qualifying for round 15 and he could turn it into a podium and win the championship. We just simply can not predict what will happen and as the chaos at the front distracts top drivers, the underdogs can wait and seize the moment. We often see that drivers who stay out of trouble will benefit from everyone else’s mistakes. It’s the last weekend, the championship is in the air; everyone will want to fight more than ever,, and with that comes mistakes. If Alex Lynn can qualify decently and have a mistake free race, he could see himself in big points. The Mahindra team has never won a championship and could simply do so by being patient.

Alex Lynn on the podium after winning at the London E-Prix Photo via @MahindraRacing)

Jake Dennis. Where do I start? The rookie’s performance this year has simply been outstanding. To come into a championship that has completely different machinery than he’s used to and have 2 race wins is impressive. He has outperformed teammate Maximilian Gunther who has done 2 previous Formula E seasons massively. He is currently 4th with 81 points in a similar position as Sam Bird. If he can just finish consistently in the points in Berlin it can help his chances massively. Like Nick Cassidy he potentially could be the first rookie to win the championship. 

 

As much as I want to, there is no way I can predict who can win this title. I can’t even tell you who I want to win as the people in contention are so talented, and all deserve it. 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Hi, I’m Chloe and I have a huge passion for motorsports. I want to work in media in the future and I love writing. My favourite drivers are Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo and my favourite team is McLaren. You can find me on Instagram @chloeharperdaly.

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