Formula E arrives in Berlin for final European race of season three

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BERLIN, Germany – Formula E has come to a curious spot on its calendar for season three.

Despite having just three more cities slated on the calendar – Berlin, New York and Montreal – the fact they are all double-header rounds means we are only at the halfway mark of the campaign.

As such, there are plenty of points left on the table for title rivals Sebastien Buemi and Lucas di Grassi, both of whom have seen their fortunes vary widely in recent weeks.

Buemi’s run of three wins to start the season came to a shuddering halt in Mexico City, with di Grassi’s victory slicing the gap at the top of the drivers’ championship.

However, consecutive wins for Buemi in Monaco and Paris, combined with di Grassi’s DNF at the latter has seen the gap grow to 43 points. With Buemi’s participation in New York in doubt, though, the battle for the season three title is far from over.

DI GRASSI HOPES BAD LUCK IS USED UP

Di Grassi’s Paris ePrix weekend was a rotten one, with two crashes in the race scuppering his hopes of coming away with any points. However, the Brazilian hopes that the incidents will fill his bad luck allocation for the season in one hit, giving him the chance to bounce back in Berlin.

“Hopefully in Paris, everything that could go wrong did go wrong there, so we have good, clean races here, back to what we normally do, good points, podiums, maybe a victory,” di Grassi told NBC Sports.

“We’re going to fight very hard for that. This is a totally different track from Paris, totally different tarmac, totally different track layout, long straights, a lot of very wide, a lot of energy saving during the race.

“Hopefully we can get everything together and put together a good show.”

SARRAZIN SET FOR TECHEETAH DEBUT

Seasoned Venturi Formula E racer Stephane Sarrazin will make his debut for Techeetah in Berlin this weekend after being drafted in to replace Esteban Gutierrez, who has moved into IndyCar with Dale Coyne Racing.

Until Friday morning, Sarrazin’s move wasn’t made official. Prior to that, the Techeetah team was waiting on permission from the stewards to field the Frenchman alongside Jean-Eric Vergne. Sarrazin fully expects to be allowed to race, but it is nevertheless an interesting quirk heading into the weekend.

Tom Dillmann will fill in for Sarrazin at Venturi for the remainder of the season, having made his Formula E debut in Paris last month.

LE MANS ON THE HORIZON

This weekend’s race in Berlin is the start of a busy run for a number of Formula E drivers who will also be featuring at the 24 Hours of Le Mans next week.

Buemi, di Grassi, Sarrazin, Nicolas Prost, Jean-Eric Vergne, Felix Rosenqvist, Sam Bird, Nelson Piquet Jr. and Jose Maria Lopez will all be heading to the Circuit de la Sarthe soon after the completion of their duties in Berlin, with the extension of the race weekend into a double-header causing a minor travel headache for most involved.

CONTRAST WITH HISTORY

Formula E has returned to Tempelhof Airport for season three after city officials in Berlin voted against staging the race on Karl-Marx-Allee in the city center, as it did in season two. Tempelhof hosted the inaugural Berlin ePrix back in 2015, but this weekend’s double-header will be run on a revised layout.

While Formula E is a series that points to the future, the backdrop of Tempelhof Airport could not be a stronger contrast. Tempelhof was instrumental in keeping West Berlin going in the early years of the Cold War as Allied forces flew supplies into the city that was blockaded by the Soviet Union. At the height of the Berlin Airlift, a plane was arriving in Berlin every 30 seconds filled with essential supplies. The a

FE SEE, FE DO

Formula E has also opted to follow Formula 1’s lead ahead of the Berlin weekend by calling for all teams to add name identifiers to their cars, making it easier for fans to differentiate between drivers.

Ricciardo set to see Dale Jr.’s final Texas ride in two weeks (VIDEO)

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We’ve written before about Daniel Ricciardo’s love of Dale Earnhardt and his love of the No. 3, which Ricciardo has selected as his permanent number for the duration of his Formula 1 career. And additionally, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has offered up the opportunity that one day Ricciardo could race a JR Motorsports car in NASCAR Xfinity Series competition, and Ricciardo has said he’d be up for it.

And although Earnhardt Jr. has only used the No. 3 on a handful of occasions in his career in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Ricciardo knows how much the number means to the NASCAR veteran as he prepares for his final few starts in the Cup Series the tail-end of this year.

After the Mexican Grand Prix next week, Ricciardo is set to stay in North America for the off-week between the Mexican and Brazilian Grands Prix.

In that break, he said he’ll see Earnhardt Jr. in person at the Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway (Sunday, Nov. 5, 2 p.m. ET, NBCSN) to ensure he gets to see him before he retires from full-time competition.

Ricciardo explained his planning during Thursday’s pre-race edition of the NBC Sports Group original digital series Paddock Pass, speaking to NBCSN’s Will Buxton at the United States Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas in Austin.

“Well I’ll see him for the first time in Dallas. I’m gonna go to the NASCAR race in two weeks time at Texas Motor Speedway,” Ricciardo told NBCSN.

“Yeah, so, I gotta see him race before he hangs up the helmet.

“The Earnhardt family is a huge name in motorsport, not only in America but all over the world. Yeah I wish him well.”

Ricciardo is also optimistic he’ll get the chance to do a helmet swap with Earnhardt Jr. at the event.

“Hopefully I get to see him perform well in Texas. I’m gonna try to do a helmet swap with him. We’ll see how we go.”

Stay tuned for more on this over the coming weeks.