The newly crowned Formula E champion Jean-Eric-Vergne is on a cloud nine after winning his first major title of his career last weekend in the New York ePrix.
When he dropped out of Formula 1, Vergne immediately switched his focus to Formula E and Endurance racing. But his career in the all-electric series hasn’t been smooth as well, as he has raced for three teams in four seasons.
He started with Andretti and moved to DS Virgin in the following season, before settling with customer team Techeetah for the last two seasons. His performances started to rise in Season 3 itself, which he carried it on in Season 4.
He started Season 4 on a good note but was immensely challenged by Mahindra Racing’s Felix Rosenqvist and DS Virgin’s Sam Bird, but his victory in Santiago changed the game as further wins in Uruguay and Paris when his rivals struck down, helped in the title bid.
In the end, Vergne’s consistency earned him the title with a massive 54 points advantage over Audi’s Lucas di Grassi, in a season where he finished in the Top 5 in all the races baring the one in Zurich.
“CHAMPIONS! To describe this feeling is impossible – we have worked so hard this season and the pressure has been huge, but we battled hard and came out as winners,” he said. “This weekend couldn’t have been any better.
“Despite starting with a disqualification in qualifying [on Saturday], I came through to win the Drivers’ Championship. And again, [on Sunday] we qualified well in the wet, made a strong start and I could manage the race.
“It was tough because we know how strong the Audi’s are in the race. No mistakes were allowed on my side and I achieved that. I feel even hungrier now to win more races and that’s the attitude I’m going to have for next season. I’m looking forward to it already.”
Vergne arguably had the best car at his disposal, but it was his driving which made the difference as teammate Andre Lotterer ended up only eighth and the factory Renault drivers Sebastien Buemi and Nico Prost were fourth and 19th respectively.
It is redemption for Vergne of sorts after he was discarded by Red Bull and Toro Rosso after the 2014 F1 season with the team choosing Daniil Kvyat over him. The Frenchman admitted it hurt him and now the Formula E title thus becomes much more sweeter.
While Vergne celebrated his first major title win, his second championship win since the 2010 British Formula 3 Championship with Carlin, but Techeetah missed out to make it a double by two points after Audi’s remarkable turnaround in the second half.
Vergne became the fourth different Formula E champion in four years following Nelson Piquet Jr, Buemi and di Grassi – he is the last title-holder driving the current generation cars as Season 5 will see the debut of the Gen2 cars.
Meanwhile, Team principal Mark Preston hailed his ‘small team’s’ achievement against some of the top manufacturers, even beating Renault from whom they buy the power trains. “What can I say. This has been a wonderful season,” he started.
“Against all the odds, we have built a team that is capable of taking on the best manufacturers in the championship and compete right to the very end. To miss out on the Team Championship will hurt for a little while, but takes nothing away from what we achieved and from winning the Drivers’ Championship.
“To do the double would have been the icing on the cake but nevertheless this gives us more fire in our belly in our preparation for next season. It feels great to sign off the season in style with another race win.
“I’d like to thank the whole team for all the hard work this season and for the results we have earned, against the odds. This season has been the highlight of my career. We are a small customer team and honestly, we have done something amazing this year, going up against other manufacturers and coming within two points of a double championship win.”