Lucas Di Grassi won the Mexico City ePrix in such unlikely style that if you didn’t see it with your own eyes, you might mistake it for an April Fool’s prank.
The ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport driver had been among those caught up in minor collisions on the first lap. He pitted under the resulting safety car to have a new rear wing fitted. He was running dead last because of the minute-long pit stop when the unusually eventful FIA Formula E race resumed.
NextEV’s Oliver Turvey had been running in the lead. He had started from pole after Daniel Abt was penalised for running underweight tyres in qualifying. However the birthday boy ground to a halt without warning at the start of lap 13 and could not restart.
Former Formula 1 driver Jerome d’Ambrosio (Faraday Future Dragon Racing) gambled on an early pit stop during the ensuing caution. With little to lose, di Grassi followed suit a lap later. When the rest of the field pitted after the midway point of the 45 lap race, Di Grassi and d’Ambrosio took the lead. NextEV’s Jose Maria Lopez, Mahindra’s Nick Heidfeld and Renault’s Jean-Éric Vergne led the pursuers.
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It seemed impossible for Di Grassi and d’Ambrosio to stretch their power to make it to the finish. However, they were helped by two more safety car periods during the race. The first was to recover the motionless vehicle of Loïc Duval The second was to attend to the similarly stricken car of Antonio Felix da Costa.
Tired of waiting for the lead pair to run out of power, Lopez tried to settle the matter on track, only to spin into the run-off at turn 1 attempting to pass d’Ambrosio. Championship leader Sebastien Buemi made a similar mistake of his own which dropped him to 14th place and out of the points this week.
Heidfeld was involved in a late accident in the stadium. He was tipped into a spin by Renault’s Nicolas Prost and collected by his unsighted team mate Felix Rosenqvist. This time there was no safety car, and d’Ambrosio finally ran out of juice on the final lap.
Di Grassi had just enough power to sneak home two seconds ahead of former Toro Rosso driver Vergne. Sam Bird claimed the final podium place for DS Virgin Racing ahead of Jaguar’s Mitch Evans. They were followed home by Prost, Lopez and Abt.
“What an incredible change of fate. But actually that’s what Formula E represents. There are such ups and downs,” said di Grassi. “It was one of the best races of my life, in terms of how I drove, how energy efficient I had to be. I’m very pleased.”
Former Haas F1 driver Esteban Gutierrez scored a points finish in his maiden series appearance with Techeetah.
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