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Vergne slams "rental go-kart" New York driving standards

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Vergne slams "rental go-kart" New York driving standards
By:
Jul 14, 2019, 10:55 AM

ABB FIA Formula E points leader Jean-Eric Vergne has hit out at the "rental go-kart" driving standards of the opening leg of the New York E-Prix, after being caught up in two incidents that harmed his title bid.

Vergne's lead in the standings was cut from 32 points over Audi's Lucas di Grassi to just 22 following a disastrous race for both the Frenchman and his teammate Andre Lotterer

Early contact between Sam Bird and Jose Maria Lopez caught out both DS Techeetah drivers, as Lotterer hit the rear of Vergne's car before the reigning FE champion pitted for a replacement nose. 

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While Di Grassi would go on to finish fifth after starting 14th, Vergne had looked set to minimise the championship lead damage with a recovery drive into the points.

But a final-lap collision with Felipe Massa left Vergne with significant damage and dropped him down the order and into 15th, while Lotterer took 17th and finished a lap down after early damage and contact with the wall at Turn 2.

Vergne, who has previously been critical of driving standards in Formula E, described the event as "terrible for motorsport" speaking to Motorsport.com.

"The driving standard has been very poor today," he said. "It seemed like it was a go-kart rental race. So many contacts, it’s ugly. It’s not single-seaters, not nice racing. Horrible.

"I saw some guys doing some silly things, driving standards have been very poor this race. 

"I’m very surprised, when I was back behind, I saw some guys braking [at the] last moment and just crashing into the guys at the hairpin. I don’t understand what happened today, it was mad."

Asked about lessons Vergne could carry from Saturday into Sunday's finale, the title leader said: "I have a good [points] lead, a good car. 

"It would have been good to be done today [by winning the title] but I need to make it [happen] tomorrow [Sunday]. Simple as that."

DS Techeetah boss Mark Preston called the race "massively frustrating" as the Chinese-entered squad saw its teams' championship lead over Audi slashed to 24 points.

Preston told Motorsport.com: "Formula E is nuts and anything can happen, and that’s why you can never be sure in Formula E. 

"Just kind of the worst possible things happened to us in this final race [weekend]. I don’t know if we could ever do anything about it, that’s the problem with starting in the middle of the pack. 

"That’s always the way, especially with these tiny, tight tracks. You get caught out as people back up and something happens in front of them.

"[It's] just massively frustrating after the whole year [has been] going so well - well we had some of these incidents through the year as well.

"But it would be a shame if that’s how the championship gets decided, on random events, but then again that’s the whole Formula E season isn’t it?"

Andre Lotterer, DS TECHEETAH, DS E-Tense FE19 hits the barrier

Andre Lotterer, DS TECHEETAH, DS E-Tense FE19 hits the barrier

Photo by: Sam Bloxham / LAT Images

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About this article

Series Formula E
Event New York City E-prix I
Drivers Jean-Eric Vergne
Teams Techeetah
Author Tom Errington