Punta ePrix: Vergne holds off di Grassi in thrilling duel

Jean-Eric Vergne survived a tense race-long battle with Lucas di Grassi to win a thrilling Punta del Este ePrix and extend his Formula E points lead.

Punta ePrix: Vergne holds off di Grassi in thrilling duel
Oliver Turvey, NIO Formula E Team, Lucas di Grassi, Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler, Mitch Evans, Jaguar Racing
Lucas di Grassi, Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler
Lucas di Grassi, Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler
Lucas di Grassi, Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler
Lucas di Grassi, Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler
Jean-Eric Vergne, Techeetah
Lucas di Grassi, Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler
Lucas di Grassi, Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler, Tom Blomqvist, Andretti Formula E Team
Lucas di Grassi, Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler, Daniel Abt, Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler

Techeetah driver Vergne headed the pack throughout the race from pole, which he was handed just 30 minutes before the race as di Grassi was demoted following a long post-qualifying investigation for cutting a chicane during Super Pole.

Sam Bird shot up the order to take third place, ahead of the equally hard-charging Mitch Evans, who was also demoted from qualifying for a weight distribution issue that meant he lined up 16th.

At the start, Vergne made a lightning getaway but could not escape di Grassi’s clutches, the pair's battle raging either side of a safety car period caused by Nick Heidfeld stopping on-track.

The duo both pitted on lap 19 of 37, with Vergne keeping the lead throughout the car swaps.

Di Grassi mounted a major attack approaching the final chicane on lap 21, but had to slow to avoid hitting the wall. The reigning champion charged back to Vergne, where he once again got stuck.

Bird made it a three-way scrap for the lead late on after making a rapid getaway from ninth, emerging from the pits in fourth place ahead of DS Virgin Racing teammate Alex Lynn.

Bird made it up to third when Daniel Abt had to pit unexpectedly for a second time with what appeared to be a seatbelt problem.

Back at the front, Vergne survived contact with di Grassi at the final corner with three laps to run – and a further clash at Turn 1 on the next tour.

The sometime Formula 1 driver held on to win by 0.447s ahead of di Grassi, with Bird dropping back to 2.1s further back on the last lap.

Vergne's victory means he now leads the standings by 30 points over Rosenqvist, who also battled his way up the order after a poor qualifying session to come fifth, with Bird an extra three points back.

Lynn eventually finished sixth after running third during the early stages, ahead of Oliver Turvey's NIO machine, Dragon pair Jose Maria Lopez and Jerome d’Ambrosio and Venturi's Maro Engel.

Vergne's Techeetah teammate Andre Lotterer faded to 12th despite a promising start, while Abt was eventually classified 14th.

Sebastien Buemi and Nelson Piquet Jr were the other non-finishers after making premature car swaps. 

Buemi hit the wall the high-speed Turn 13 right-hander on lap 10 and suffered left-rear damage as he chased Turvey and Abt early on.

Piquet picked up damage on the opening lap and had to switch cars due to a driveshaft problem.

Race results:

shares
comments
Punta ePrix: Di Grassi on pole, but under investigation

Previous article

Punta ePrix: Di Grassi on pole, but under investigation

Next article

Di Grassi hit with fine for underwear infringement

Di Grassi hit with fine for underwear infringement
Load comments
How Formula E stood up to F1 comparisons in Monaco Prime

How Formula E stood up to F1 comparisons in Monaco

OPINION: It was no surprise to anybody that the laptimes achieved by Formula E cars on the full Monaco circuit were much slower than Formula 1. But perhaps the more relevant comparison was in the racing spectacle, where FE delivered in spades.

Formula E
May 12, 2021
How Monaco dealt Formula E a winning hand to cure its hangover Prime

How Monaco dealt Formula E a winning hand to cure its hangover

Formula E faced much criticism in the wake of its maligned Valencia event. In need of a turnaround, the series' first use of Monaco's iconic Formula 1 layout provided it with the injection of thrills required to clear the fog that had enveloped the paddock.

Formula E
May 11, 2021
Why Formula E's Valencia fiasco undermines engineering talent Prime

Why Formula E's Valencia fiasco undermines engineering talent

FIA president Jean Todt wanted more Formula E coverage in the media, and got his wish when the opening Valencia E-Prix proved farcical. Despite attempts to spin the race as teams failing to get their sums right, Formula E and its governing body cannot escape blame - especially when trying to get teams to commit long-term.

Formula E
Apr 27, 2021
How Valencia E-Prix farce gave Formula E an image problem Prime

How Valencia E-Prix farce gave Formula E an image problem

Formula E was under the microscope at Valencia, on its first visit to a permanent circuit. But after a mere nine drivers were left classified following Saturday's Valencia E-Prix, the electric championship once more faced criticism after rising energy deductions and miscalculations produced a farcical affair.

Formula E
Apr 25, 2021
How Vergne and Vandoorne found redemption in Rome Prime

How Vergne and Vandoorne found redemption in Rome

Another Formula E double-header, another double dose of frantic action. While the form guide remains unpredictable following fightback wins for Jean-Eric Vergne and Stoffel Vandoorne in Rome, the speed and consistency of Mercedes – both on and off the track – could have its rivals worried for what is to follow

Formula E
Apr 12, 2021
What Nissan's commitment to Gen3 reveals about Formula E's future Prime

What Nissan's commitment to Gen3 reveals about Formula E's future

Formula E's Gen3 era grid continues to take shape, after Nissan opted to commit to the series for another four years. Nissan's global chief operating officer explains why it has thrown its lot in with FE while other high-profile marques have decided to call it quits.

Formula E
Mar 24, 2021
Why the new Formula E season got off to such a controversial start Prime

Why the new Formula E season got off to such a controversial start

With the new Formula E season belatedly getting underway in Saudi Arabia, the championship appeared to try to make up for lost time with an overspill of action and controversy on and off the track. While some talking points could have serious repercussions, it was an explosive opener for many reasons.

Formula E
Mar 1, 2021
The eight major plotlines to watch in Formula E 2021 Prime

The eight major plotlines to watch in Formula E 2021

The delayed 2020-21 Formula E season gets underway this week with a double-header in Saudi Arabia. The testing times were too close to call a favourite, but that's not the only area of interest to follow as the championship enters a crucial year

Formula E
Feb 25, 2021