Di Grassi wins as Buemi fails to score

Lucas di Grassi wins his first ePrix of the season ahead of Jean-Eric Vergne and Sam Bird as Championship Leader Sebastian Buemi fails to score.

02/04/17

The ABT Schaeffler driver closes the points gap between himself and championship leader Sebastian Buemi despite pitting on lap 3 for rear wing damage and then pitting on lap 18. He would be promoted up the field to where he would stay until the end.

Oliver Turvey inherited pole position after Qualifying when it was found that Daniel Abt would be disqualified due to a technical infringement. Turvey held the lead into turn 1 while Nick Heidfeld overtook Jean-Eric Vergne for 3rd place. Further behind, Lucas Di Grassi sustained damage to his rear wing due to Maro Engel locking up and hitting the rear of the car into turn 5. Lap 2,  Antonio Felix da Costa locks-ups into turn 1 and runs wide. He rejoins the track and the race. Lap 3, the Safety Car is called out due to the amount of debris that is on the track. Di Grassi pits.

He pulls into the pits and his team take off the broken rear wing and replace it with a replacement. He rejoins at the back of the pack. Nicolas Prost receives a black and orange flag for damage to his front wing. Lap 5, the Safety Car comes in while Turvey holds a narrow lead over Lopez in 2nd. Lap 6, Buemi overtakes Felix Rosenqvist into turn 1 and up into 6th place. Lap 7, after locking up at turn 1 and running wide, Da Costa overtakes Esteban Gutierrez into turn 1 and up into 11th place. Di Grassi, Abt and Buemi are the winners of the Fanboost.

Lap 13, Turvey slows. Lopez inherits the lead as Turvey slows on the start/finish straight. Turvey comes to a halt at turn 1. Lopez now leads ahead of Heidfeld and Vergne. Lap 16, Abt overtakes Prost into turn 4 and up into 12th. Lap 17, the Safety Car is deployed to let the marshals recover Turvey’s stricken car. Lap 18, Di Grassi pits and jumps into his second car. Jumping into the second car now would mean that he would have to go more than half the race in this car. His chance of points or even finishing this race are bleak. Lap 19, the Safety Car comes back into the pits with Lopez leading.

Lap 25, Vergne, Adam Carroll, Nelson Piquet and Gutierrez pit jumping into their second car. Vergne has been stuck behind Heidfeld for all of the race so far and if he can produce a good out-lap, he might emerge ahead. Lopez, Heidfeld, Bird, Buemi, Rosenqvist, Da Costa, Mitch Evans, Engel, Robin Frijns and Abt pit at the end of lap 25. Vergne produces a great out-lap and manages to jump Heidfeld with Lopez the effective race leader. Well, not really. He is only 3rd, a mere 28 seconds behind Di Grassi and Jerome d’Ambrosio, who are 1st and 2nd. By pitting earlier on lap 18, Di Grassi has inherited the lead with D’Ambrosio behind on the same strategy.

Lap 26, Loic Duval has come to a halt at exciting turn 3. The Safety Car is called out again on lap 28. The lead that Di Grassi and D’Ambrosio had has been evaporated with the field bunching up behind the Safety Car. Having run inside the top 7 in the early stages of the race, Buemi now finds himself down in 10th place. Lap 31, the Safety Car comes back into the pits and with Di Grassi leading ahead of D’Ambrosio, Lopez and Vergne. Lap 33, Da Costa slows exiting turn 2. He stops at turn 4 where his car is retrieved by the marshals.

Lap 34, Frijns has been given a Drive Through Penalty for being under the minimum pit stop time. He was 3 seconds under the allotted time of 60 seconds. Lap 35, Lopez is right behind D’Ambrosio and tries to go round the outside of turn 1. He locks his rear brakes and spins. Moments later, Buemi, also trying to overtake Rosenqvist, spins, doing the exact same as Lopez. Both continue with Lopez dropping from 3rd to 13th and Buemi from 10th to 17th.

Lap 36, Di Grassi, managing his energy consumption and trying to stay ahead of D’Ambrosio, has built a 2.3 second gap. Lap 41, Di Grassi’s lead has increased to 4.2 seconds as D’Ambrosio tries to hold off Vergne and Bird. Lap 43, Vergne finally overtakes D’Ambrosio into turn 4 and up into 2nd place. Heading into turn 9, Prost tries to overtake Heidfeld but Prost hit the rear of the car and Heidfeld spins. Seconds later and Evans Rosenqvist hit Heidfeld. Rosenqvist goes over the rear of the car, breaking his front right suspension. Both Mahindra team-mates sustain damage and the chance of points are gone. Evans survives and is now 5th.

Lap 44, Bird overtakes D’Ambrosio round the outside into turn 4. A brilliant move which sends Bird now onto the final podium position. Heading onto the final lap, D’Ambrosio has ran out or energy. The risky strategy has not paid off but it has for Di Grassi as he comes round the final corner to win in Mexico.

Race Result

1.Di Grassi  2.Vergne  3.Bird  4.Evans  5.Prost  6.Lopez  7.Abt  8.Carroll  9.Piquet  10.Gutierrez  11.Frijns  12.Heidfeld  13.Buemi  14.D’Ambrosio  15.Sarrazin  16.Rosenqvist  DNF Engel, Da Costa, Duval and Turvey

Drivers Championship

  1. Sebastian Buemi 76 points
  2. Lucas di Grassi 71 points
  3. Nicolas Prost 46 points
  4. Jean-Eric Vergne 40 points
  5. Sam Bird 33 points

Teams Championship

  1. Renault e.Dams 122 points
  2. Abt Schaeffler Audi Sport 91 points
  3. DS Virgin Racing 43 points
  4. Techeetah 41 points
  5. Mahindra Racing 37 points
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