Paris ePrix: Di Grassi dominates for third win of campaign
Lucas di Grassi won his third race of the 2015-2016 Formula E Championship, leading the first ever Paris ePrix from Jean-Eric Vergne.
The Brazilian had a straightforward drive to his second consecutive victory and his third of the season to stretch his championship lead.
The ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport driver was the class of the field all race, taking the lead from polesitter Sam Bird at Turn 1, and never looked back. With title rival Sebastien Buemi finishing third, di Grassi now enjoys an 11-point cushion with four rounds remaining.
The race saw late drama after a Safety Car was deployed for series debutant Ma Qing Hua, who crashed heavily on lap 40.
It looked set to introduce a grandstand finish, but such was the clean-up operation that time ran out and di Grassi took a slightly anti-climactic, but still richly deserved win.
DS Virgin driver Vergne took the chequered flag in second to register his best result for French manufacturer DS. The Frenchman indulged in a frantic fight with teammate Bird for much of the race.
Bird eventually ended up sixth after a late-race mistake while under pressure from a charging Buemi.
Claiming fourth place behind Buemi was Nicolas Prost who had a relatively uneventful race, much of it defending from the Venturi of Stephane Sarrazin, who came home fifth.
The non-manufacturer pairing of Andretti’s Robin Frijns and Team Aguri’s Antonio Felix da Costa claimed seventh and eighth, while Bruno Senna and Daniel Abt maximised frugal early stints to jump up the leaderboard to claim the final points in ninth and tenth.
Jerome d’Ambrosio finished in 11th position to complete a miserable weekend for the Dragon Racing team who were off the pace all weekend.
Nick Heidfeld sealed 12th position after starting from the rear of the grid due to his qualifying accident with Mike Conway, who came in 14th just behind Turvey’s NEXTEV TCR car.
The German clocking the fastest lap of the race to garner two points for the Indian squad as it defend its fifth position in the championship from Venturi.
Simona de Silvestro placed 15th after her race was compromised at the first corner when she contacted the wall. Reigning champion Nelson Piquet suffered a problem with his NEXTEV TCR car and failed to finish the race.
Story of the race
Di Grassi led away from the line after Bird got a little too much wheelspin off the grid. Vergne immediately found a way past Bird at Turn 2 with brief contact made between the pair on the exit.
Bird fought back and had several looks at his DS Virgin team mate in the opening exchanges but was unable to find a way through.
Holding fourth and fifth positions were Prost and Sarrazin. Some way adrift of the top three, the pair ran together for the first 14 laps.
At the front, di Grassi made hay, opening up a useful gap 3.5-second gap over the squabbling DS drivers but saw some of that advantage receded after a Full Course Yellow was deployed to retrieve Loic Duval’s stranded Dragon machine.
The action behind the top runners was frenetic as Felix da Costa and Frijns battled gamely for eighth position. This battle saw arguably the overtaking move of the race by Frijns as he ducked inside the Portuguese Team Aguri driver at turn six.
Frijns and Felix da Costa soon hooked up to the back of the Turvey and Buemi for sixth position. Buemi made a move on Turvey on lap nine and the Brit also lost out to an aggressive Frijns later on the same lap.
Felix da Costa also made his way through with a late braking manoeuvre on the NEXTEV driver at turn one on lap 15.
On the same lap, Buemi managed to pick off Sarrazin for fifth place and soon made enough progress to latch onto the tail of team mate Prost for fourth place.
The Swiss was soon through and made sufficient enough progress to catch the warring DS Virgin pair of Vergne and Bird, who made contact for the second time in the race when Bird attempted a pass.
As the mandatory pit stops approached, di Grassi again stretched his lead and, when he emerged from his stop, he enjoyed a seven-second cushion.
Vergne and Bird rejoined again almost tied together with Bird seemingly slightly quicker than his French teammate.
Buemi in fourth place appeared to lose out and fell to three seconds behind the DS Virgin pair. The big winners after the pit stops were Senna and Abt who stayed out an extra lap and managed to get in to the top ten in ninth and tenth respectively.
By lap 32, Buemi, after a series of fastest laps, had caught the DS Virgin pair and immediately began to pressure Bird. He Renault e.dams driver deployed his Fanboost on lap 34 but was unable to reap the benefits as Bird defended stoutly.
Buemi continued to pressure Bird in the remaining 10 laps and that pressure came to a head on lap 40 whe,n Bird out-braked himself at turn one to allow Buemi through.
With Ma’s Aguri buried in the wall on lap 40 the Safety Car was deployed, effectively ending the race and ensuring di Grassi could cruise over the line and celebrate another crushing victory.
|1||Lucas di Grassi||Team Abt||52:40.324||45|
|2||Jean-Eric Vergne||Virgin Racing||+0.853||45|
|6||Sam Bird||Virgin Racing||+3.856||45|
|7||Robin Frijns||Andretti Autosport||+5.141||45|
|8||Antonio Felix da Costa||Team Aguri||+7.000||45|
|9||Bruno Senna||Mahindra Racing||+8.433||45|
|10||Daniel Abt||Team Abt||+9.479||45|
|11||Jérôme d'Ambrosio||Dragon Racing||+10.738||45|
|12||Nick Heidfeld||Mahindra Racing||+12.453||45|
|13||Oliver Turvey||China Racing||+13.721||45|
|15||Simona de Silvestro||Andretti Autosport||+16.049||45|
|R||Nelson Piquet Jr.||China Racing||39|
|R||Ma Qing Hua||Team Aguri||38|
|R||Loic Duval||Dragon Racing||4|
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