Lucas di Grassi has won the latest round of Formula E, the Paris ePrix. The FIA’s home city hosted the sold-out event for the first time providing spectacular backdrops of the Eiffel Tower with a freshly tarmacced track located around Place des Invalides. Di Grassi’s win is his third of the season.
Starting from pole position, Britain’s Sam Bird (DS Virgin Racing) was unable to capitalise on his qualifying pace and immmediately dropped back to third after a slow start. Each of the teams had been suffering from poor cold tyre performance that Renault-e.dams said had caused them not to be as competitive as they would have liked over the weekend.
Lucas di Grassi (Abt Schaeffler) was able to capitalise on his superior start and dived into turn one with Sam Bird and his team-mate Jean-Eric Vergne trailing closely behind. However, aside from a glance at the first corner, di Grassi was untouchable and rocketed away opening an unclosable gap.
Bird was frustratingly quicker than Vergne in the early stages of the race but the Parisian did not want to concede position and an inter-team tussle ensued. This allowed Sébasiten Buemi (Renault-e.dams) to catch up and, in the second half of the race, Buemi’s pressure caused Bird to make a braking error, miss the corner and allow the Swissman past. Fortunately, Bird was unscathed and skillfully spun his car around and back onto the track but not without losing several positions and putting himself out of the top-three fight.
There was plenty of action elsewhere in the pack too with many trading places and paint around the tight and twisting circuit. Debutant Ma Qing Hua (Team Aguri) proved himself in the electric racer but sadly stuffed his car into a wall with only six laps remaining. This meant a safety car had to be used and brought the rear of di Grassi’s car in sight for Vergne for the first time. Vergne received FanBoost and so had the race resumed might have been able to capitalise on the restart, but alas it was not to be and the race ended under the safety car.
Nonetheless, di Grassi’s win was well deserved and the Brazilian rightfully took the chequered flag after dominating the race from start to finish. Fastest lap went to Sébastien Buemi, who’s Renault-e.dams had begun to perform in the closign stages of the race, while second place was nabbed by Jean Eric-Vergne who held that position ever since turn one of the first lap. Di Grassi said:
“I think it was the most perfect start we had so far. Sam had a lot of wheelspin and Ijust managed to avoid getting any. Jean-Eric also had a very good start and I was looking in my mirrors to make sure that he didn’t get room on the inside. From then onwards I was pushing really hard, even after the Full Course Yellow. After the pitstop, on the cold tyres the car was just sliding for two laps as I tried to build up the temperatures and he caught up a bit. To see people all around the track cheering, on the inside of the track and the outside… it’s just amazing what was done here today and I hope we race here many more times and in more cities like Paris. This is what Formula E is about.”
Lucas di Grassi’s win puts him clear by 11 points at the top of the championship with 126 points, followed by Sébastien Buemi with 115 points and Sam Bird with 82 points. Renault-e.dams currently leads the team championship with 165 points, followed closely by Abt Shaeffler Audi Sport with 158 points and Dragon Racing with 112 points.