After the disappointment in Mexico, Lucas Di Grassi finally managed to make a legal race win again. Senior editors Laurence Thorn and Bethonie Waring discuss the moments of the race.
Driver of the day
LT: It has to be Lucas di Grassi. Not only did he make it through to Super Pole which title rival Sebastien Buemi failed to do, he then proceeded to drive a typical di Grassi race: smart and consistent. Starting 2nd, he maintained position behind leader Sam Bird for exactly as long as he needed to, before pouncing on lap 12 to take a lead he would never relinquish except for the pit stop phase. A perfect way to bounce back from the heartbreak of Mexico City.
BW: Lucas di Grassi is pretty much the perfect contender for driver of the day. He did everything you could want: qualified well, put on a show with a brilliant overtake for the lead, and held the lead for most of the race. What more could you want?
Best start of the race
LT: I am tempted to give this award to the entire field for making it through the tight turn 1 without major incident! But with Antonio Felix da Costa – robbed of pole due to a technical infringement and starting dead last – jumping up to 15th on the first lap, the Portuguese driver deserves this honour.
BW: Antonio Felix Da Costa probably had the best start off the line. It may or may not have helped that he was out of place, and definitely deserved to be higher up but, like he said, rules are rules. He jumped up to P15 straight away. In my notes that’s followed by an exclamation mark, so it must have been good.
Overtaking move of the race
LT: In a race that was characterised more by tension and strategy than actual overtaking moves, one springs to mind – the aforementioned pass by Lucas di Grassi on Sam Bird for the lead of the race on lap 12. He faked to go around the outside, then cut to the inside and passed Bird with a lovely move. Top marks.
BW: There wasn’t a lot of overtaking going on, unless you were Antonio Felix Da Costa, and some people, like de Silvestro on Da Costa, left it a little too close to the pit stop to be able to get the move done. Di Grassi’s move on Sam Bird for the lead was probably the best move of the race.
Surprise of the race
LT: LT: Throughout their Formula E existence, Mahindra have rarely had the luck or pace (or both) to have both cars in the top ten of a race. So it was brilliant to see Nick Heidfeld and Bruno Senna both getting their cars into the top five, leading to a best-ever points haul for the team.
BW: Probably the move from Buemi on Frijns. I mean, we all know Buemi can make some rash decisions at times but that move definitely cost him any chance at taking the race win and, who knows, this time next year we might be saying the championship. It’s surprising he would make that bad a decision so early in the race. But then, the radio messages after the incident were definitely not a surprise. Is it a Formula E race without some angry French on the e.dams radio?
Unlucky driver of the race
LT: There are two cast-iron contenders for this – da Costa, who was forced to start from the back and made it all the way up to P8 before retiring with a car issue, and Robin Frijns, who was running in a solid P4 when he was hit from behind by Sebastien Buemi. Either driver could be considered to be the unluckiest but I will go with da Costa – it must have been heartbreaking to make up all those positions, only to then suffer his fourth retirement in six races this season.
BW: Da Costa. Having the pole taken away with him because of the tiniest infringement on the tyre pressure rules must have been heart breaking for him, but Da Costa bounced back in a style that made him contender for driver of the weekend, for me, only for that to be all taken away because of a problem with the car. Da Costa didn’t put a foot wrong this weekend, but the results wouldn’t show that.
Best battery management
LT: This one has to go to both Mahindra drivers. Nick Heidfeld and Bruno Senna managed to squeeze an extra lap out of their machines compared to everyone else in the field, which proved to be crucial in them taking P4 and P5 in the final classification.
BW: Surprisingly, not NEXTEV. This time it was the Mahindra pair putting in the extra lap when it came to the pit stop window. If I remember correctly, it was Heidfeld who was just above Senna in the percentage battery, but don’t hold me on that. And it worked for them, putting the P4 and P5 and giving Mahindra the best points finish of the race.
Best rookie performance
LT: Unfortunately Robin Frijns was punted out of the race early so we will never know how his day would have ended. With a P10 finish and therefore scoring his first points in the series, Mike Conway takes this award. He has not had the best of luck since making his debut with Venturi in Buenos Aires, but in Long Beach the British driver was able to string it all together in the race and was rewarded with a point.
BW: I would have to say De Silvestro. She had a pretty anonymous race, but then so did all the rookies, save Frijns. She was the best finisher of the rookies – though more experienced on the Long Beach track than some of her rivals – and scored her first points finish of the season. De Silvestro deserves a pat on the back for that.
Image courtesy of FIA Formula E Media