Saturday, November 7, 2015

Di Grassi Wins Wild Putrajaya Round

In what has to be the wildest race in Formula E in the series short history, Lucas di Grassi took the victory after multiple cars battled mechanical failures in the heat and humidity of Putrajaya, Malaysia. The Brazilian jumped Loïc Duval during the pit cycle, putting him fourth on track behind Nelson Piquet, Jr. who still needed to stop, Nicolas Prost and António Félix da Costa. Prost stopped on lap 15 after his Renault e.dams teammate Sébastien Buemi had a sudden stop on circuit despite leading every lap to that point. The Swiss driver would get back going and head into the pit lane behind his teammate.

After Piquet, Jr. stopped, Prost led da Costa, di Grassi and Duval but had to conserve energy. The ABT Audi Sport driver passed da Costa and then Prost to take the lead. Both da Costa and Prost would suffer lurches on track, causing both drivers to lose many positions. The Dragon Racing drivers of Duval and Jérôme d'Ambrosio and Andretti's Robin Frijns were battling out for podium positions but Duval suddenly lost power and stopped on the circuit and Frijns clipped the wall after getting into the marbles but the Dutch driver was able to continue. D'Ambrosio jumped to second while Sam Bird passed both Duval and Frijns.

Lucas di Grassi would go on to take the victory by 13.9 seconds over Bird after d'Amborsio got into the barriers on the final lap. Frijns crabbed to a third place finish, his first career Formula E podium. Stéphane Sarrazin qualified second but had to be removed from the grid after his car failed to get started on the initial start. The Frenchman would overcome the start from the pit lane and finish fourth. Bruno Senna rounded out the top five with da Costa able to bring his car home in sixth.

Daniel Abt finished seventh with defending champion Nelson Piquet, Jr. scoring his first points of the season with an eighth place finish. Nick Heidfeld overcame being spun on lap one and a drive-through penalty for violating the minimum pit stop time to finish ninth with Nicolas Prost rounding out the points paying positions in tenth, despite getting into the barriers with three laps to go.

Jacques Villeneuve missed out on his first career Formula E points by finishing 11th. Buemi was 12th and picked up two points for fastest lap with his Swiss counterpart Simona de Silvestro finishing 13th. D'Ambrosio was 14th with Nathanaël Berthon rounding out the top 15 and Duval in 16th.

Oliver Turvey retired on lap five after having his throttle stick going into turn five. Jean-Éric Vergne's race ended before he completed a lap after the Frenchman made contact with Heidfeld.

With his victory, di Grassi takes the championship lead with 43 points. Buemi finished outside the top ten but gets five points (three for pole position, two for fastest lap) and trails the Brazilian by eight points. A third in the race moves Bird to third in the championship with 24 points. Heidfeld is seven behind the British driver. Frijns rounds out the top five, a point behind Heidfeld.

Sarrazin is sixth in the championship with 14 points and is two ahead of his fellow countryman Duval. Senna and d'Ambrosio are tied on ten points. Turvey and da Costa are tied on eight. Abt has six points. Berthon and Piquet, Jr. each have four and Prost sits on one points. Villeneuve, Vergne and de Silvestro have all yet to score.

In the Teams' championship, ABT Audi Sport lead with 49 points, 13 ahead of Renault e.dams. Mahindra Racing is third on 27 points, two ahead of DS Virgin Racing. Dragon Racing is fifth on 22 points with their American rivals Andretti Formula E on 16 points. Venturi has 14 points while NEXTEV TCR and Aguri are tied on 12 points.

The third round of the 2015-16 Formula E season will be on the streets of Punta del Este, Uruguay on December 19th.