Lucas di Grassi has taken victory at the Mexico City ePrix in a chaotic race that saw the ABT Schaeffler gamble on an alternate strategy following a lap one collision.
With pole-sitter Daniel Abt starting from P18 after being given a penalty prior to the race start, Britain’s Oliver Turvey inherited the pole position on the day of his 30th birthday. The Brit had a good start of the race, defending his position against DS Virgin Racing’s José María López, who looked confident and aggressive in his DSV-02.
A crash on the opening lap caused damage on di Grassi’s rear wing, with the safety car being deployed immediately, as the Brazilian pitted to change his damaged part of the car, coming out of the pits in 19th place.
What looked as a promising race for Turvey became a disappointment as his car slowed down while he was in the lead, later stopping on track. López moved up to P1, where he remained until the car swaps. The safety car was deployed to remove Turvey’s car from the track, but this did not mean action would stop in the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez.
Both Faraday Future Dragon Racing cars touched under the yellow flag period, causing Jerome d’Ambrosio to pit early on. di Grassi pitted as well, meaning the #7 and #11 cars would have to save as much energy as possible in order to finish the race.
López still led by the time most of the drivers pitted. The Argentinian came out of the pit lane just behind d’Ambrosio, who was running second behind di Grassi. d’Ambrosio’s team-mate Loïc Duval stopped on turn six before doing his car swap, causing the safety car to be deployed again. The yellow flag period proved good for di Grassi and d’Ambrosio, who had their chance to save battery as they had a lower percentage than the rest of the drivers.
As the green flags were waved again, López pushed harder than ever trying to get past d’Ambrosio, whilst Vergne did the same with “Pechito”. The Argentinian’s battle got interrupted by a spin at turn one, where Buemi would spin seconds later and almost collect the stricken DS Virgin car. With both drivers at the bottom of the standings, Jean-Eric Vergne positioned himself third, followed by Sam Bird who did not give up on his battle with his former teammate.
Mahindra’s drivers had a strong battle between them and a hit from Nicolas Prost on Nick Heidfeld caused the Mönchenglabdach native to spin and later be collected by his team-mate Felix Rosenqvist, leaving both cars badly damaged after the chaotic incident.
In the last laps of the race, d’Ambrosio faced an alarming low battery that made him drop out of the points on the standings, with Vergne moving up to P2 and Bird P3. As the chequered flag was waved, di Grassi became the 2017 Mexico City ePrix winner, having his revenge after last year’s disqualification on Mexican soil.
The Abt team broke the Mexico City ePrix curse and celebrated another win by the Brazilian, who now breaks Buemi’s winning streak. Daniel Abt finished 7th, after starting the race from P18. Jaguar Racing obtained its first points, with a spectacular drive by Kiwi driver Mitch Evans finishing in P4 and Adam Carroll finally having luck on his side, with a P8 finish.
Andretti had both his drivers struggling during the race, with Antonio Felix da Costa retiring from a net third place and Robin Frijns just out of the points. Local favourite Esteban Gutiérrez saw his chances to move up some places and to the joy of the crowds achieved a point on his debut by finishing in tenth position.
It was a weekend to forget for Renault e.dams after Buemi had his spin at turn one and dropped to P14, and Prost finished in the points in P5 but is being investigated for causing a collision between the two Mahindras.
Formula E now moves to European soil to race in the streets of the Principality of Monaco on May 13th, where the championship will continue and we will be closer to seeing who will take the crown.
Images courtesy of FIA Formula E Media