Formula E commentator Dario Franchitti thinks the pressure of the title fight between Jean-Eric Vergne and Sam Bird could provide another thrilling and tight climax to the ABB FIA Formula E Championship season.
Three-time Indy 500 winner Franchitti has called the majority of Formula E races since the start of the all-electric championship.
He believes that both Bird and Vergne are unlikely to be susceptible to any psychological factors but has not discounted another spectacular finale to a Formula E title fight.
“I think the mind games and psychological aspect only affects you if you let it, and both JEV and Sam are too experienced for anything negative to creep in to their thinking really,” Franchitti told e-racing365.
“The stresses of a title fight are right on the surface and in a series like Formula E where you do race in such close quarters there is always pressure and the occasional contact.
“You are not insulated by anything in Formula E and its pure racecraft with the street fighting dynamic within it.”
Formula E has had all of its previous three titles go down to the wire with significant drama occurring on each occasion.
In Season One, Nelson Piquet Jr. clinched the inaugural crown on the final lap by a single point. The following season, Lucas di Grassi collided with Sebastien Buemi but still lost the title to the Swiss driver by just two points.
Last season, Buemi lost the crown to his Brazilian rival after a cataclysmic final race in Montreal where he crashed in Free Practice and was then disqualified for his rebuilt car being underweight after Race One.
“Both contenders are experienced but as we have seen you never know what can happen both in and out of the car in Formula E. A lot can occur and for some reason it usually does in Formula E,” said Franchitti.
“They (Bird and Vergne) are very different characters.
“As far as I know Sam, he does his best work when he knows he has got something to prove and with this gap and the underdog tag he will be really tuned in.
“What Techeetah have done as a privateer team is a hell of a job and JEV has been integral to that. Previous to this season you’d look at JEV in a Formula E title battle and go, ‘Hmm, not sure really.’
“I’m not sure what he has done and how he’s done it, but he’s a different character. He seems to have kept all his strengths and worked bloody hard on his weaknesses.
“To have that run up until Zurich where his lowest placing was fifth is pretty exceptional in any series let alone Formula E.”
Tai Exit has Unaffected Team
Franchitti believes that the surprise exit of former Team Principal Alex Tai last month has had no effect on the DS Virgin Racing team’s chances in this year’s title battle.
E-racing365 reported that Tai had left the team amid largely unexplained circumstances just before the Berlin E-Prix in May. His departure from the Silverstone-based squad was confirmed a few weeks later.
Virgin Racing’s Chief Technology Officer Sylvain Filippi has since taken over the position vacated by Tai as Managing Director.
“They seem to have handled it all well and they are obviously a strong team throughout,” said Franchitti.
“Sylvain is a sharp guy, a hidden gem in the paddock, so I don’t see his departure as the destabilising issue it could have been for some other teams.”
Franchitti also expressed his admiration for both DS Virgin Racing drivers, Bird and Alex Lynn, who have had little development of the car from last season to the current campaign.
“I don’t think the DS Virgin car is an easy package to drive and there was basically no significant development coming in to the season too,” he said.
“I rate Alex Lynn very highly and he has bags of talent but we’ve seen how much trouble he has had with the car on both horrendous luck with reliability and also just getting the best from it.
“Sam though has squeezed every last thousandth of a second from the package on most occasions this season. It’s bloody impressive what he has done.”