Preview: The path to the FE title decider

Preview: The path to the FE title decider

24 July 2017 – Four drivers head to this weekend's Formula E title decider in Montréal with a mathematical chance of becoming champion; realistically, it's once again down to Sébastien Buemi and Lucas di Grassi. GPUpdate.net reflects on how the title battle has unfolded across the category's third season.

Race 1 | Hong Kong

NextEV NIO sprung a surprise by claiming a 1-2 in qualifying but it was business as usual in race trim, as Buemi triumphed, with di Grassi as runner-up. Buemi profited from some fine moves and misfortune that befell others, including pole sitter Nelson Piquet Jr. and erstwhile leader Sam Bird, to open his title defence in perfect fashion. Di Grassi, meanwhile, started 19th, and suffered early damage, but surged through the order to finish on the podium.

Points: Buemi 25 | di Grassi 18

Race 2 | Marrakech

Buemi once again made progress from a relatively sub-par grid spot and emergedas nearest rival to pole sitter Felix Rosenqvist, who controlled the opening stint. Buemi went one lap longer before his pit stop, enabling him to use greater energy in the second phase of the race, and he duly overhauled Rosenqvist. Sam Bird also snuck past Rosenqvist, while di Grassi had to be content with fifth position.

Points: Buemi 50 | di Grassi 28

Race 3 | Buenos Aires

Di Grassi claimed his maiden Formula E pole position but lost out early on to both Jean-Éric Vergne and Sébastien Buemi, with the Swiss racer duly passing his Techeetah rival for the lead. Buemi maintained his position up front despite suffering from braking difficulties in his second car to preserve his unbeaten start to the season. In doing so, he became the first Formula E driver to take three straight wins.

Points: Buemi 75 | di Grassi 46

Race 4 | Mexico City

Di Grassi started from near the back and seemingly dropped out of contention after damage necessitated an early pit stop. However, di Grassi completed his mandatory car swap relatively early, behind the Safety Car, and inherited a huge lead when his rivals made their compulsory stops at racing speed to take a stunning win. Buemi, meanwhile, finished outside of the top 10 after spinning off at Turn 1, his title advantage slashed in the process.

Points: Buemi 76 | di Grassi 71

Race 5 | Monaco

Buemi returned to winning ways with a controlled performance upon Formula E's jaunt to Monaco. Buemi's primary challenger was main title rival di Grassi, but the Renault e.dams racer remained cool under pressure to deliver victory around the streets of the Principality. Nick Heidfeld profited when Piquet Jr. and Vergne collided at the chicane to finish on the podium.

Points: Buemi 104 | di Grassi 89

Race 6 | Paris

Buemi delivered a crushing home victory for Renault, having started from pole position, while di Grassi had a horror show in the Parisian streets. Di Grassi, trying to recover from 13th on the grid, collided with António Félix da Costa, did not stay above the minimum pit stop time, and crashed late on while in pursuit of the fastest lap.

Points: Buemi 132 | di Grassi 89

Race 7 | Berlin

Di Grassi, competing with an ankle injury, recorded pole position on Audi's home turf, but in race trim it was Rosenqvist who flourished. Having shadowed di Grassi, Rosenqvist breezed past for the lead shortly before the pit stop phase to grab his and Mahindra's maiden Formula E victory. Buemi, meanwhile, qualified a low-key 14th, but recovered to fifth, only to be excluded for a tyre pressure irregularity.

Points: Buemi 132 | di Grassi 110

Race 8 | Berlin

Rosenqvist continued his fine form during the second race at Tempelhof but he copped a penalty for being released into the path of team-mate Heidfeld in the pit lane. Stewards handed Rosenqvist a 10-second time penalty and while he crossed the line first, Buemi remained within reach and inherited victory. Di Grassi finished on the podium again, this time in third spot.

Points: Buemi 157 | di Grassi 125

Race 9 | New York

Formula E headed to the Big Apple without its title leader, for Buemi had clashing commitments in the World Endurance Championship. It opened the door for di Grassi, but DS Virgin Racing flew, with debutant Alex Lynn taking pole position, before Sam Bird romped to victory. Di Grassi, meanwhile, qualified only 11th, but made steady progress to fourth, taking a chunk out of Buemi's lead.

Points: Buemi 157 | di Grassi 137

Race 10 | New York

Virgin's superiority was maintained as Bird converted pole position into victory – despite being overhauled off the line by Rosenqvist – to keep his extremely slim title aspirations alive. Rosenqvist's podium meant he too remained in the hunt as an outside contender, while di Grassi took fifth position to close the gap to Buemi to just 10 points.

Title standings:
Buemi - 157 points, 6 wins
Di Grassi - 147 points, 1 win
Rosenqvist - 104 points, 1 win
Bird - 100 points, 2 wins

Points available in two Montréal races: 58 (25 for victory, 3 for pole, 1 for FL)

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