One year ago, Formula E conveyed a powerful message by becoming the first player to bring motor racing to central New York – fulfilling a long-held dream shared by the entire motorsport community. This weekend sees the all-electric single-seater series return to Red Hook, Brooklyn, for the showdown of the 2017-18 season; with Felix Rosenqvist locked in a close battle for championship position.
The second edition of the New York City E-Prix is promising drama aplenty. Following a long and globe-trotting campaign, Rosenqvist and his electric rivals now descend on the Big Apple for two final, decisive races – spectacularly staged against the scenic backdrop of Lower Manhattan.
“New York is such a special place for all the right reasons, and it’s hard to think of a more fitting location to conclude the season,” says Felix Rosenqvist (who has been on site in the USA for a few days already). “It’s a unique setting; Manhattan just across the river, and the first thing we see while entering the paddock each morning is the Statue of Liberty. It doesn’t get more iconic than that. It’s a huge achievement for Formula E to be here and I can’t wait to hit the track this weekend.”
Having initially led the championship after taking back-to-back victories in Hong Kong and Marrakesh at the start of the season, Rosenqvist enters the New York finale currently sitting fifth in the standings following a recent run of more challenging races.
Hopes of winning the esteemed title disappeared down the mathematical drain following contact with championship leader Jean-Eric Vergne last time out in Zürich, but the Mahindra Racing Swede remains very much in contention for at least third place – despite retiring from two races (Mexico City and Rome) while holding the lead from pole position.
Technically, Rosenqvist could still end up second in the standings, but with a 54-point deficit to current runner-up Sam Bird – and a maximum 58 up for grabs in Brooklyn – that is a long shot to say the least.
Instead, third will be the realistically achievable target for Rosenqvist this weekend, which boasts a double-header round of two races as opposed to Formula E’s regular single-race format.
Not that the battle for bronze will be an easy one to tackle, however. Quite on the contrary, it’s a contest that will see Rosenqvist go up against the two most recent Formula E champions in Lucas di Grassi and Sébastien Buemi.
Di Grassi, currently third overall and the winner of the recent Zürich E-Prix, is 15 points ahead of Rosenqvist, who in turn sits just six points behind fourth-placed Buemi.
It is, in other words, all very much to play for.
“Finishing in the top three of the standings would obviously be nice, but my target this season was to win the title and I will not manage to do that,” Rosenqvist admits. “I was third last year already, as a rookie, so I was naturally aiming to improve on that.
“At the same time, however, we have to remember that we’ve lost at least 50 points just from the two DNFs in Mexico and Rome, and that’s almost impossible to overcome. We’ve had the pace for most of the campaign and that’s why I really want to go for a win again this weekend in New York, to underline that performance and to end the season on a high.”
Felix Rosenqvist has already stood on the New York Formula E podium, finishing second to Bird in one of the two races last year. Ahead of this weekend’s return to Brooklyn, the Red Hook track has been slightly reprofiled with an extended sequence of corners right after the start.
The two races take place on Saturday and Sunday respectively.
All times local (GMT-04:00)
ABB FIA Formula E Championship
Race 11&12/12 | New York City E-Prix
Saturday 14 July
Free Practice 1: 07.30-08.15
Free Practice 2: 10.00-10.30
Race (45 laps): 15.30
Sunday 15 July
Free Practice: 08.30-09.15
Race (43 laps): 15.00
CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS(top five)
ABB FIA Formula E Championship
After 10/12 races
1: Jean-Eric Vergne (FRA), 163 p.
2: Sam Bird (GBR), 140 p.
3: Lucas di Grassi (BRA), 101 p.
4: Sébastien Buemi (CHE), 92 p.
5: Felix Rosenqvist (SWE), 86 p.