Lucas di Grassi says that Jean-Eric Vergne is under “huge pressure” after his fraught New York City E-Prix reduced his championship lead to 22 points with one race remaining.
Vergne was caught up in an early race pile-up which saw him having to pit for repairs and drop him to the rear of the field.
Despite a strong drive back into a points-scoring position, the Frenchman saw any chance of adding to his points tally disappear when he was involved in an incident with Venturi’s Felipe Massa at Turn 1 on the final lap.
Meanwhile, di Grassi came through from 14th on the starting grid to claim fifth place points and ensure that both he, Sebastien Buemi and Mitch Evans can still snatch the title tomorrow afternoon.
“[Vergne] is not only fighting me he will be fighting the race winner today [Buemi], a guy that came from 13th to second [Evans] and also me,” di Grassi told e-racing365.
“So we have a high probability of winning the race tomorrow and if he doesn’t finish for any reason like a puncture, crash or anything then he loses a championship that was 100 percent in his hands for this weekend.
“He is under huge pressure and we saw this with the move at the end, which was borderline.”
Di Grassi underlined his belief that his rise from a lowly 16th position on Lap 1 to fifth at the checkered flag was one of his best drives in the all-electric series.
“For me I rate this as one of the best races in my Formula E career absolutely,” said Di Grassi.
“We underestimated the heat on the set-up so tomorrow we should have a big improvement. The debrief will be crucial tonight but we will be stronger tomorrow so I am feeling really confident.”
Vergne will “Remain Calm”
Vergne says he and the DS Techeetah team will remain focused on clinching the ABB FIA Formula E Championship title on Sunday despite a race he described as “a nightmare situation”.
Vergne’s race was compromised by two separate incidents in the early and late stages of Saturday’s race.
“Everything stopped in the first incident and then it went bang, bang, bang behind me and gave me a puncture and broken front wing and it was a complete nightmare situation,” Vergne told e-racing365.
“The recovery was good and I was going to get points but then I tried to pass Massa and it didn’t work out and he squeezed me after I went on to the dust.”
Vergne says that he remains confident that he can become the first-ever two-time Formula E champion tomorrow despite his dramatic Saturday race.
“You cannot go back in the past,” he explained.
“I have 23 points in the lead and I go in to tomorrow confident and cool, so we will do a good job and we will be quick because the pace we had was good.
“We will remain calm, make repairs and come back tomorrow to finish the job.”