Punta del Este as Formula E fans love it: After a spectacular race, Jean-Eric Vergne celebrated his third victory ahead of Lucas di Grassi and Sam Bird.
It was an intense qualifying session earlier on in the day and the final starting grid looked very different from the provisional results right after the hunt for the fastest time. Current championship leader Jean-Eric Vergne (TECHEETAH) – who made it to Super Pole but went around the track more than two seconds slower than provisional pole setter Lucas di Grassi (Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler) – was the man in the most promising position on the grid, also collecting valuable extra points for the championship.
The other Super Pole candidates, namely di Grassi, Oliver Turvey (NIO Formula E) and Alex Lynn (DS Virgin Racing), were all found to have strayed over the track limits, dropping them a position on the gird after a final decision from the FIA. Mitch Evans (Panasonic Jaguar Racing) meanwhile did not exceed track limits, but was dropped to the back of the grid nevertheless due to discrepancies with the weight distribution. All of this meant, di Grassi would start from P2, follwed by Lynn, Turvey and teammate Daniel Abt (Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler).
Once the red lights went out, Vergne was able to defend his lead while di Grassi started fairly weakly into the race, nevertheless keeping his second position ahead of Lynn and Turvey. The Brazilian made up for it though and quickly closed the gap to the French race leader, something Turvey could not manage to do. The Brit lost touch with the top three drivers and found himself under a lot of pressure from Abt. Meanwhile, it got close between Andre Lotterer (TECHEETAH) and Sam Bird (DS Virgin Racing) who were battling for P6.
On lap 2, Nick Heidfeld’s (Mahindra Racing) weekend in Punta del Este got even worse: After already hitting the wall in qualifying, his struggles continued during the race. Just one whole lap into the race, the German stranded on track due to technical difficulties. This brought out the Safety Car just moments later. Following two laps behind the Safety Car, the drivers continued to battle each other for positions. Two drivers though could not join the others in the wild fighting as they were obviously suffering from technical gremlins: First, Nelson Piquet JR (Panasonic Jaguar Racing) dropped to P19 and a few laps later Lotterer also had to give up his pursuit of the top-5, even falling out of the top ten. Sebastien Buemi (Renault e.dams) joined the club of unfortunate drivers as a broken suspension forced him to change into his second car.
The majority of drivers went into the pits to follow Buemi’s example on lap 20 and rejoined the track without any big position changes. Vergne was still leading ahead of di Grassi and Abt, who overtook Lynn for P3 just a few seconds before making the change to his second car. The big winner of the stops was Bird who rejoined the track in P4, right ahead of teammate Lynn whom he nearly collided with in the pit lane.While the British duo was putting pressure on Abt right in front of them, things also got more heated during the top two drivers. Di Grassi tried to find a way past the Frenchman in the TECHETAH but had to abandon his pursuit for the lead to avoid a collision. Nevertheless, the reigning Formula E champion quickly closed the gap again and was continuing to pressure Vergne.
Teammate Abt was not as luckily: Following a close battle with Bird, the German went straight into the pits and had to refasten his seatbelt. Thus he lost his third place to Bird and found himself back on track in P15. In front, Vergne and di Grassi were still showing an intense battle for the lead which allowed Bird to catch up with the leading duo. Nevertheless, the Brazilian could not find a way past the Frenchman and crossed the line in P2, followed by Bird, Evans and Felix Rosenqvist (Mahindra Racing).
Following the exciting Punta del Este ePrix, Vergne is still leading the championship with 109 points, followed by Rosenvist (79 points) and Bird (76) points. Di Grassi also made a big jump in the standings, adding 18 valuable points to his total. Jose-Maria Loperz (Dragon Racing) meanwhile took home a point for the fastest lap after a fairly invisible race.