The fast and the furious: di Grassi on top in Montreal
A thrilling first Montreal ePrix saw Lucas di Grassi (ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport) taking a well-deserved victory ahead of the Techeetah-duo Jean-Eric Vergne and Stephane Sarrazin. The Brazilian also took over the championship lead as Sebastien Buemi (Renault e.dams) finished in P4 and was quite obviously the most angry person in all of Canada after the race.
The race in words
Following an eventful morning and early afternoon, Formula E dished up an exciting starting which could potentially change the championship order. Lucas di Grassi (ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport) who is fighting Sebastien Buemi (Renault e.dams) for the title was able to secure the pole-position earlier on today while the Swiss’ accident in the second free practice session resulted in a ten-place grid penalty, essentially putting the current championship leader in P12 on the starting grid. The Brazilian pole-sitter managed to get a clean start and was able to secure his lead ahead of Stephane Sarrazin (Venturi Formula E) and Mahindra Racing’s Felix Rosenqvist. Meanwhile, Renault e.dams’ troublesome day continued as both Buemi and Nicolas Prost struggled during the start. While Prost dropped to P6 following an incident with one of the Panasonic Jaguar Racing drivers, Buemi found himself in the middle of the pack and lost four positions in total due to the tightness of turn one.
While di Grassi was able to sovereignly lead the race ahead of Sarrazin and Rosenqvist, the rest of the field entertained the fans well with close yet fair battles. In front, Sarrazin was under pressure from the Mahindra Racing driver but managed to close the door on the Swede. Further down the field, all eyes were on Buemi and his race for redemption after his weak start. Even though the Renault e.dams driver clearly has the best material of any of the Formula E drivers, he seemed to struggle to pass his opponents. Ten laps into the race, the Swiss found himself back in P12 where he started while his main championship rival di Grassi was leading the race comfortably ahead of Sarrazin.
The German drivers Nick Heidfeld (Mahindra Racing) and Daniel Abt (ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport) meanwhile showed a fierce battle just outside of the top-ten, making their way towards P10 together. On lap nine, Abt was able to overtake his fellow countryman but the race should get even worse for the German Mahindra Racing driver.
On lap 14, just after Buemi passed Loic Duval (Faraday Future Dragon Racing) for P10, Heidfeld tried to follow the Swiss’ example yet made unfortunate contact with the Frenchman. While Duval was able to continue, Heidfeld seemingly damaged his car and was forced to retire from the race. His stranded car caused a full course yellow which the majority of the drivers used to complete their mandatory pit stop. Buemi was right behind di Grassi’s teammate Abt whose rather slow speed annoyed the championship leader to no end. The quarrel between the two of them continued when exiting the pit lane as Buemi rejoined the fast lane right in front of the German – a situation that held the potential to be understood as an unsafe release by Renault e.dams. Nevertheless, Abt did not seem to be able to keep his cool as he drove into the rear of the Swiss’ car – an attack that seemed on purpose to many spectators.
The last third of the race saw Buemi gaining a handful of positions as he obviously regained his strength following the stops. He passed Oliver Turvey (NextEV NIO) for P7 on lap 21 and managed to squeeze past Panasonic Jaguar Racing’s Mitch Evans just two laps later. Nevertheless, the Swiss was not able to pull away from Abt who followed him closely. On lap 24, all drivers suddenly got closer to one another as the Safety Car was brought out due to an accident by Jose-Maria Lopez (DS Virgin Racing). The Argentinian lost control of his car and found himself in the wall as a result. Race leader di Grassi lost his rather comfortable three-second lead to Jean Eric Vergne (Techeetah) and Buemi lined up right behind his teammate Prost.With about ten laps to go, the following restart definitely held the potential to change things around once again.
With seven laps to go, the Safety Car left the track and the race was restarted. Di Grassi cleverly used his FanBoost to get away from Vergne who was under pressure from his very own teammate Sarrazin. The Techeetahs kept their respective positions though, while Prost let Buemi fly by, handing the Swiss P5. Abt, clearly still angered by the incident involving the Renault e.dams driver, aggressively moved past Prost as well and continued to follow his pursuit to catch Buemi once again.
The insanely close battle between Buemi and Abt continued in the last few laps of the race. Just after Buemi moved past Rosenqvist for P4, Abt did the same. Nevertheless, it seemed like the Swede was held back by some steering issues following some light contact with one of the walls as he was also past by Prost and Sam Bird (DS Virgin Racing) who showed a fantastic yet rather invisible performance, moving from P18 to P8. In front, things suddenly got more interesting as Vergne was able to close the gap to di Grassi and found himself in the Brazilian’s rear with just two laps to go. In a nail-biting final two laps di Grassi rescue his first place ahead of the Techeetah-duo Vergne and Sarrazin while Buemi finished the race in P4. Nevertheless, the Swiss was anything but happy, commenting on the race with “Merde!” (French: shit; editor’s note) while di Grassi was celebrating taking over the championship lead with just one race to go.
- Lucas di Grassi
- Jean-Eric Vergne
- Stephane Sarrazin
The fastest lap was set by Loic Duval (Faraday Future Dragon Racing) with an impressive 1:24.536.
Several drivers were able to improve their performance between FP1 and qualifying. Tom Dillmann (Venturi Formula E) found 0.794 seconds on the challenging track and Stephane Sarrazin (Techeetah) followed his fellow countryman’s example and improved his time by 0.784 seconds. Sebastien Buemi was also able to better his performance by 0.697 seconds in total.
Lucas di Grassi - 175 points
Sebastien Buemi - 169 points
Sam Bird - 108 points
Renault e.Dams - 277 points
Abt Schaeffler Audi Sport - 232 points
Mahindra Racing - 183 points
Who is your driver of the race? Let us know!
Image courtesy of FIA Formula E Media