So this is it, we’ve reached the fifth and final part of our ranking of the Top 25 Formula E Drivers from seasons one to five… so who makes the cut? Read on to find out…
To compile these rankings, the Inside Electric team – who’ve been accredited for over 100 Formula E races combined – considered each driver’s statistics as well as our own knowledge of their particular circumstances during seasons one to five.
It’s been a tough task to get to this point, so keep your eyes (and ears) peeled for an upcoming podcast episode where we talk through our rankings in more detail…
5. Mitch Evans
37 races for Jaguar, 195 points, 4 podiums, 1 win, 1 pole position
When Mitch Evans entered Formula E with newcomers Jaguar Racing in season three, all eyes were on this promising, young talent. Despite the fact that both Evans and Jaguar had a lot to learn during their debut season, the Kiwi led his team to some encouraging results including a fourth-place finish at the 2017 Mexico City E-Prix.
Across the following two seasons, Evans outpaced his highly experienced new team-mate, season one champion Nelson Piquet Jr, as well as his replacement Alex Lynn, but more importantly, he demonstrated great leadership of the team, delivering the results to match more often than not.
His second season brought with it a series of point-scoring finishes along with his first podium and pole position. However, it was in Rome during season five when all of Evans’ experience with the championship married together as he secured an emotional first Formula E win and Jaguar’s first win in international motorsport since 1991.
Evans’ maturity and patience with Jaguar during their ever-developing Formula E journey have rewarded him with a car that seems to improve year on year and now with it, a place in the ‘Formula E winners club’. With this newfound confidence in Formula E, Evans has proven he can fight with the big guys and come out on top.
4. Sam Bird
58 races for Virgin, 541 points, 17 podiums, 8 wins, 5 pole positions
As one of only four Formula E drivers to have competed in every race, Sam Bird has not only proved himself as one of the most competitive on the grid but is also the most consistent. His aggressive but fair driving style earnt him eight wins, 17 podiums and five pole positions during Formula E’s first five seasons.
Bird is also the only driver to have secured a victory in every season of Formula E so far, and continued this highly impressive statistic into season six with victory in Riyadh at the end of last year.
Until season five, Bird had entered every season finale with a mathematical chance of clinching the drivers’ title too. This admirable achievement really demonstrates Bird’s raw talent behind the wheel, especially given that he’s arguably never had the quickest car in the field. To accomplish this with so many variables changing year on year including fresh competition, adjustments to technical regulations and the introduction of new circuits, it really serves as a credit to Bird’ driving prowess.
With a win in the bag already this season and a competitive car package underneath him, Bird has every chance of shaking off his unwanted tag as the most successful driver not to have won the Formula E title.
3. Sébastien Buemi – champion in season two
56 races for Renault e.dams, 699 points, 25 podiums, 14 pole positions, 13 wins
It’s sometimes easy to forget what a force Sebastien Buemi was during Formula E’s first few seasons, especially given Jean-Eric Vergne’s meteoric rise in the championship. Despite a two-year win drought prior to his New York City triumph in July, Buemi remarkably still holds the Formula E record for wins, pole positions, fastest laps, consecutive wins, and most wins in a season which probably tells you all you need to know about his standing amongst the rest of the grid.
To put his early successes into perspective, Buemi pretty much became the benchmark for any driver hoping to fight at the front during the early years of the championship and some of his performances during seasons two and three really were on another level.
In hindsight, skipping two races in 2016 to compete in the Nurburgring WEC race proved to be a mistake and it ultimately cost him the chance to become Formula E’s first back-to-back champion. The ‘Montreal meltdown’ that followed didn’t cast him in the best light either but that’s what you get with Buemi, he’s a winner and it means that much to him – sometimes a little too much on occasions but Formula E wouldn’t quite be the same without him.
2. Lucas di Grassi – champion in season three
58 races for ABT/Audi, 719 points, 31 podiums, 10 wins, 3 pole positions
Giving Lucas di Grassi the headline of ‘season three champion’ doesn’t really do justice to a driver who’s harassed every title fight relentlessly. Formula E’s first employee, di Grassi has been a part of the series from the very beginning and is one of the drivers most heavily invested in the series’ technology, even in the earlier days.
Di Grassi has driven every race in Formula E, amassing 737 points – the most of any driver and was the first to pass 700. With an average of 12 points per race, he is Formula E’s most ruthlessly consistent competitor and it’s that ability to, season after season, run a title campaign that’s kept him a serious threat.
Known for being opinionated off-track, di Grassi’s commitment to Formula E is equal to his achievements in the series. An ambassador to the rest of the world and intense interrogator within the paddock, he’s one of the drivers that makes Formula E easy to write about as a colourful narrative.
Lucas knows his own statistics all too well; 31 podiums – six more than Buemi and 12 more than Vergne – and 10 race victories. He’s sprayed champagne at more than half of Formula E’s races to date; a record as intimidating as realising the master of ruthless mind games is in your rear-view mirrors.
1. Jean-Éric Vergne – champion in seasons four and five
56 races, 577 points, 20 podiums, 9 pole positions, 8 wins
Formula E is a redemptive series – for your reputation, hopefully the planet, and sometimes also for the last shreds of your sanity. Jean-Eric Vergne, or “JEV” as he’s more commonly known within the paddock, turned up to the series still furious following his F1 exit and spent the best part of two seasons barely seeming to want to be there.
Given that, choosing to buy part of Techeetah for season three seemed an almost-baffling choice, except that it might have seemed like he didn’t have many other places to go at the time.
It turned out to be a master-stroke. Wrestling control of his destiny let Vergne regain the form he’d spent years – in Formula E and before – seeming to almost fight himself over and a transformative win in Montreal at the end of season three set him up to dominate the following two seasons.
Always fast, always aggressive, the Jean-Eric Vergne that took two back-to-back titles bears little resemblance to the sad streak of anger who washed up in Punta del Este during season one. But his evolution as a driver from undelivered raw potential, to respected series titan, is as close as you could map onto Formula E’s history itself.
Note: The race statistics shown for each driver featured in this article are based on seasons one to five, and do not include any races from the current season (2019/20)…
How the drivers ranked…
25. Tom DILLMANN
24. Maro ENGEL
23. Alex LYNN
22. Oliver ROWLAND
21. Maxi GÜNTHER
20. Nico PROST
19. Stéphane SARRAZIN
18. Andre LOTTERER
17. Edoardo MORTARA
16. Alexander SIMS
15. Stoffel VANDOORNE
14. Nelson PIQUET
13. Pascal WEHRLEIN
12. Oliver TURVEY
11. Nick HEIDFELD
10. Robin FRIJNS
9. Jérôme D’AMBROSIO
8. António Félix DA COSTA
7. Felix ROSENQVIST
6. Daniel ABT
5. Mitch EVANS
4. Sam BIRD
3. Sebastien BUEMI
2. Lucas DI GRASSI
1. Jean-Eric VERGNE