Jean-Eric Vergne cemented his status as the man to beat in the Formula E title battle, after he held onto his pole position to come out on top in the Swiss village of Bern, ahead of Mitch Evans and Sebastien Buemi in a thrilling battle.
The race began under a mix of unease and excitement, with local protests held about the E-Prix but also the prospect of an exciting race. The start was about as chaotic as any in the series – lasting all of one corner, Pascal Wehrlein kicked into motion a pile-up into the Turn 1 chicane and left a stranded car park in his wake.
A few drivers were able to flow through the escape road – Buemi, Lucas di Grassi, Felipe Massa and Antonio Felix da Costa judged the scenario to perfection – but others, such as Robin Frijns, weren’t so lucky, being punted into retirement by Jerome d’Ambrosio while Maximilian Günther was caught in the crossfire along with Sam Bird.
The decision was made to reset the order of the grid to what it originally was, saving a few blushes while also causing a Buemi-style rant on camera, this time di Grassi, Massa and da Costa giving their thoughts to the stewards. After they calmed down, and the red flag was rescinded, the race resumed with Vergne leading the pack away from Evans.
Evans proceeded to engage in cat-and-mouse combat with the Frenchman, and both took their first Attack Modes on the same lap as each other, Vergne doing so to neutralise the advantage. It worked, with Evans hassling the back of the DS Techeetah for a multitude of laps to no avail. Alexander Sims was the last to use his first Attack Mode, activating his after some were almost finished with their second.
Although an actual bear was spotted in the woods near the track, the largest roar could be heard from the heart of Andre Lotterer as he fought from eighth on the grid, passing Daniel Abt, then Günther, then finally Sam Bird in a great display of racecraft. Bird himself fought excellently to get ahead of the starring Günther with arguably the overtake of the race, around the outside and on the edge.
Wehrlein came to a stop late on in the race, joining Frijns and Edoardo Mortara in the retirement zone, while Massa got aggressive with his compatriot di Grassi into the braking zones, almost squeezing him into the wall. Evans squirmed to get past the DS Techeetah ahead, but couldn’t find a way through – all the while Buemi and Lotterer closed in on the duo.
The final two laps saw rain, which almost caught out both Vergne and Lotterer, but even though he was closer than ever Evans couldn’t work the tricky conditions to his favour, and Bird almost dropped it coming to the line on the last lap. In the end, though, it was Vergne’s day, and with three races to go across two events, it looks like the pendulum could swing his way, on route to Formula E’s first ever successive championship wins.