jean-eric vergne

FIA WEC

Manor alters No. 24 crew line-up for WEC Mexico

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Manor’s Jean-Eric Vergne will be joined by two new drivers in the No. 24 Oreca 07 Gibson for the upcoming FIA World Endurance Championship round in Mexico following a revision of the team’s line-up.

Manor fielded ex-Toro Rosso Formula 1 and current Formula E racer Vergne alongside Jonathan Hirschi and Tor Graves in the No. 24 Oreca through the opening three rounds of the season, the trio recording a best finish of fourth in the LMP2 class at Le Mans.

Vergne was replaced by Roberto Merhi for the last round at the Nürburgring due to Formula E’s clashing commitments in New York, but will be joined by an all-new line-up for the next race at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City on September 3.

Matt Rao returns to Manor’s LMP2 line-up after featuring last season ahead of a move to Signatech Alpine for 2017, acting as its silver-rated driver.

Vergne and Rao will be joined by British racer Ben Hanley, who moves onto his third team of the WEC season after featuring for TDS Racing, DragonSpeed and G-Drive Racing so far this season at Spa, Le Mans and the Nürburgring respectively.

Manor’s No. 25 Oreca line-up remains unchanged, with Vitaly Petrov being joined by Simon Trummer and Roberto Gonzalez for Mexico City.

Click here to see the full entry list of the 6 Hours of Mexico.

Di Grassi clinches maiden Formula E title, Vergne wins Montreal finale

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MONTREAL, Canada – Lucas di Grassi has been crowned FIA Formula E champion after finishing seventh in Sunday’s season finale in Montreal, with title rival Sebastien Buemi failing to score.

Di Grassi moved into the lead of the drivers’ championship for the first time this season on Saturday by winning the Montreal opener, opening up an 18-point lead when Buemi was disqualified.

Buemi’s struggles continued on Sunday as he qualified a lowly 14th, and was then hit at the start, forcing him to take a pit stop after being shown a black and orange flag, causing him to drop to the back of the field.

Buemi was able to fight his way back up to 11th by the checkered flag, but with di Grassi finishing seventh, the championship was comfortably settled.

The Brazilian is Formula E’s third champion in as many seasons, clinching the title despite taking just two wins compared to Buemi’s six, the Renault racer’s New York no-show proving costly.

The race itself was won by Jean-Eric Vergne, who finally took his first Formula E win after finishing second on six previous occasions, passing pole-sitter Felix Rosenqvist in the second stint of the race.

Rosenqvist held on to second for Mahindra, securing himself third place in the drivers’ championship after Sam Bird could only take P4 on the day for DS Virgin Racing, finishing behind teammate Jose Maria Lopez.

Nick Heidfeld put in a quietly impressive display to take P5 for Mahindra ahead of Daniel Abt, who di Grassi let past at the line in the sister ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport car.

Despite closing the gap to Renault in the teams’ championship with a strong double score, the ABT squad was unable to deny the French marque a third straight title, clinched even though Buemi finished 11th and Nicolas Prost failed to finish.

Stephane Sarrazin recovered from a first lap spin to finish eighth for Techeetah, securing another double-score for the team, while Jerome d’Ambrosio and Tom Dillmann rounded out the points.

Formula E now takes a break until the start of collective testing in Valencia in October, with the opening race taking place in Hong Kong in early December.

WEC Nurburgring entry list confirms FE subs, Buemi set to miss NYC

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Pipo Derani and Filipe Albuquerque are among the drivers substituting for Formula E regulars in the FIA World Endurance Championship round at the Nürburgring next month, as confirmed with the publication of the entry list for the latter event.

The clash between Formula E and WEC on the July 16 weekend has been a long-running saga for both series, with no resolution workable due to a lack of communication regarding the placement of the Formula 1 race in Germany that was ultimately canceled.

With drivers racing in both series, a number were left with a key dilemma to make when picking which race to entry, ending with a majority opting to partake in Formula E’s double-header race weekend in New York.

Two drivers have chosen to prioritize WEC, including Formula E championship leader Sebastien Buemi, who is bound by his contract with Toyota’s LMP1 team. Jose Maria Lopez is also in a similar position, racing in the sister TS050 Hybrid at the Nürburgring.

Here’s a run-down of the drivers who had to work around the clashes and where they’ve ended up, and who will be replacing them.

Sebastien Buemi

Formula E championship leader Buemi had hoped to be racing in New York – where he could have sewn up the title – but is now risking a 50-plus point loss by missing the double-header.

Buemi said that his Le Mans result would decide whether or not he could have the chance to skip the Nürburgring, only for the No. 8 Toyota crew to have a miserable race, finishing eighth overall after two hours in the garage.

Buemi’s replacement for New York will need to be decided in the next 24 hours when the race stewards are informed of the entry list. Red Bull youngster Pierre Gasly is thought to be leading the chase for the seat.

Jose Maria Lopez

Like Buemi, Lopez was tied down by his Toyota contract and was not able to get out of his duties, meaning he will be missing New York as well.

Lopez will return to the No. 7 Toyota for the Nürburgring round, having been moved into the third car for Le Mans given his lack of prior experience following his Silverstone crash and the subsequent injury that forced him to miss Spa.

Lopez will be replaced at DS Virgin Racing in New York by Alex Lynn, the team’s reserve driver. Lynn, in turn, will miss the Nürburgring race with G-Drive in LMP2, with Ben Hanley taking his place.

Sam Bird

Lopez’s Formula E teammate, Sam Bird, is another driver who said his dilemma would be solved by his Le Mans result. The Briton is fourth in the WEC GT drivers’ championship with AF Corse and just 14 points off the lead, yet he opted to prioritize his Formula E duties in New York.

Bird will be replaced at AF Corse in the No. 71 Ferrari 488 GTE by Toni Vilander, who races in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship for Risi Competizione and featured at Le Mans earlier this month.

Nicolas Prost

Renault e.dams appeared the face the prospect of having neither of its regular drivers in place for New York, only for Buemi’s teammate Nicolas Prost to put his Formula E duties first.

Prost has raced with Vaillante Rebellion Racing in LMP2 so far this season, but will step back for the Nürburgring. Seasoned sportscar racer Filipe Albuquerque takes his place.

Nelson Piquet Jr.

Nelson Piquet Jr. is another driver who had the same decision as Prost, putting Formula E over his duties with Rebellion in the sister Oreca 07 Gibson. Piquet will be replaced in the No. 13 car by Pipo Derani, whose three-race stint with Ford Chip Ganassi Racing came to an end at Le Mans.

Jean-Eric Vergne

Jean-Eric Vergne has made a flying start to life in the WEC this year with Manor, regularly featuring at the top of the timesheets, and stood out at Le Mans with some mammoth quintuple stints.

Vergne won’t be at the Nürburgring, though, putting his Formula E duties with Techeetah – a team he also has commercial interests in – first. Roberto Merhi takes his place, returning to Manor after previously racing for the team in both F1 and WEC.

Buemi dodges safety cars, FCY to take Paris Formula E win

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Sebastien Buemi kept his cool to dodge a number of possible pitfalls and win Saturday’s Paris ePrix, extending his lead at the top of the Formula E drivers’ championship in the process.

Buemi scored his second pole position of the season in qualifying, edging out home favorite Jean-Eric Vergne by just 0.006 seconds in the final Super Pole shootout.

The duo enjoyed a close battle at the front of the pack for the first half of the race, with Buemi’s two-second lead being wiped away by a Full Course Yellow called following a crash between title rival Lucas di Grassi and Antonio Felix da Costa for Andretti.

The FCY was near enough to the pit window that the majority of the pack came in and swapped cars early, with Vergne pushing to catch Buemi and cutting the gap to one second in the process once the race was back under green.

Vergne’s race came to an end before he could begin to think about a move on Buemi, with a technical failure on his Techeetah car sending him into the wall and sparking a safety car period.

Buemi’s lead of seven seconds over Lopez was eradicated by the safety car, but the defending series champion did not panic, pulling out a healthy buffer once the race got back underway.

Buemi’s advantage was given one final challenge when another safety car was called in the closing stages after di Grassi crashed when chasing the fastest lap. However, it ended up playing into his hands when race control announced that the checkered flag would be shown under the safety car.

The win was Buemi’s fifth in six races so far this season, and extends his Formula E championship lead to 43 points over di Grassi, who failed to score a single point after his late shunt and a penalty for not meeting the minimum pit stop time.

Lopez took second for DS Virgin Racing, marking the three-time WTCC champion’s best result in Formula E so far, while Nick Heidfeld completed the podium for Mahindra in third place.

Felix Rosenqvist followed close behind his team-mate to take P4 ahead of Nicolas Prost, who gained a position from Robin Frijns when the Dutchman received a five second time penalty. Frijns was eventually classified sixth.

Nelson Piquet Jr. finished the race seventh for NextEV NIO ahead of Tom Dillmann, who was eight on debut for Venturi. Mitch Evans scored Jaguar’s third points finish in Formula E in P9, while Stephane Sarrazin rounded out the top 10.

Vergne, Piquet at odds over Monaco Formula E clash

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Jean-Eric Vergne and Nelson Piquet Jr. were at odds over their clash during last Saturday’s Formula E race in Monaco, laying blame with one another.

Vergne attempted to pass Piquet for third place around the outside of the Turn 3 hairpin – formed around the Nouvelle Chicane – before being squeezed into the wall.

The incident eliminated Vergne from the race and sparked a safety car period. Piquet was able to continue, having lost just one place, and eventually finished the race fourth.

“I passed him. He used me twice to turn his car, bumped into my car twice, not only one lap, the lap before also when I tried,” Vergne explained to NBC Sports.

“Then when I was alongside him on exit, he just didn’t leave me any room. I had the wall coming straight toward me. I was on the brakes, trying to turn. I think for me the onboard camera could see the steering wheel was on the left, going against me.

“He had plenty of room on the right and I ended up in the wall soon so… You can make your own conclusions about that.”

Vergne added that he would have been “amazed” if the stewards did not give Piquet a penalty, only for the incident to be passed over in their post-race meeting.

“He was very aggressive, trying to pass me on the outside. It’s a very tight corner over there, especially the exit, it closes in,” Piquet said.

“Once I went on power and we touched because he was really close to me, our cars got stuck with each other. I wasn’t going to back off and the track just closes into us and that was it.

“I think he could have waited a bit more because he had three per cent more energy. He would have passed me anyone on a pit stop. He was going to go one or two laps even longer than me. It would have been really easy for him.

“I just don’t understand why he was so desperate to get around me. I was closing the door, I wasn’t going to let him by. It would have been safer, especially on a track like this, just to save more energy, go one or two laps longer.

“It’s a shame that it happened with him. He’s a good guy, a friend of mine. We have laughs. Racing incidents, sometimes you don’t choose who they are with, they just happen.”

Vergne’s most pressing worry post-race was the injury sustained to his right hand in the incident, but the Frenchman will be fit to race in this weekend’s Paris ePrix.