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Home delight for Audi as di Grassi triumphs in Berlin

It was an all-champion podium at the Berlin E-Prix as Lucas di Grassi dominated for a second victory of the season, with pole sitter Sebastien Buemi holding off reigning title holder and series leader Jean-Eric Vergne to take his first podium of the season.

Buemi led away from pole position and held the advantage from Stoffel Vandoorne as the order remained more or less the same through the first few corners, with the exception of Andre Lotterer who rose from 21st to 16th on the opening lap.

Lap three saw the first overtake at the front as di Grassi made his way past Vandoorne at turn six before setting off after Buemi.

Just behind the leading group, Alex Lynn made a move down the inside of Gary Paffett at the penultimate corner and forced the HWA Racelab into the barrier, causing Paffett to drop further positions as he lost momentum.

At the front, di Grassi closed down the gap to Buemi and launched an attack down the inside of turn six, performing a textbook overtake to assume the lead of the race.

Buemi soon came under pressure from Vandoorne, behind whom a train was starting to form as di Grassi leapt off into the distance. Lynn, running in fourth, made a move on Vandoorne at turn nine to take third place but the Belgian immediately took the place at the next corner, forcing Lynn off line and allowing Daniel Abt to pass as well.

A brilliant moment came for Vergne as he went to activate his first attack mode, reentering the racing line and finding a perfect gap between Paffett and Oliver Rowland before slicing his way to the inside line to retake the position.

Further down the field, Sam Bird activated his attack mode and set off after Edoardo Mortara, with the duo side-by-side through three corners before Bird completed the move.

With further attack mode activations throughout the field, the action got fierce as drivers fought for track position. Antonio Felix da Costa made full use of his attack mode to move up to second place, but then had the problem of those behind him yet to use theirs.

With da Costa out of his first attack mode and with an army of racers behind him, di Grassi cleverly took the opportunity to use his first activation and continued to build up his lead further.

In the midfield, the action was kicking off as no fewer than eight cars all fought for the same piece of tarmac. Alexander Sims got a good exit of the final corner to pass Paffett, but Bird followed through around the outside of turn one and put Paffett off line, causing the Brit to lose further places to Pascal Wehrlein and Mortara.

As further battles ensued with Vergne attacking da Costa for third place, the full course yellow was deployed as Lynn came to a stop at the exit of the final corner due to the rear end of his car seizing up.

The majority of the field took the opportunity to arm their final attack modes, but with the marshals taking some time to get Lynn’s sticken Jaguar off the track the four minutes had already elapsed by the time the green flags were waved. This proved to be a masterstroke for Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler as di Grassi and Abt activated theirs moments before the full course yellow ended.

With battle resumed, da Costa set off after Buemi as he targeted second place, but Vergne was also closing in and started to apply pressure to the fighting duo ahead of him.

The Frenchman went for it down the inside of turn six and despite some trading of paint made the move stick on da Costa and elevated himself into a podium position.

Meanwhile, it was disappointment for teammate Lotterer, who after the shock of qualifying was forced to retire with five minutes left on the clock.

Vergne continued to go on the attack as he closed in on Buemi, but behind him another battle was brewing as da Costa kept Vandoorne and Abt at bay for fourth place.

At the front, no one could stop di Grassi from crossing the line to take his tenth career victory, while Buemi held off the advances of Vergne to take second. The battle behind stayed the same as da Costa triumphed over Vandoorne and Abt, while Sims took his first points finish since Santiago.

Rowland and Bird finished eighth and ninth respectively, while Wehrlein rounded out the top ten with a point on home soil.

Vergne maintains his title advantage on 102 points, while di Grassi shoots up to second place six points behind the reigning champion. Lotterer holds onto third despite a no-score, while da Costa moves up to fourth.

DS Techeetah still leads the team’s standings with 188 points, with Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler 25 points behind while Envision Virgin Racing is a further 26 points adrift.

About Topher Smith
Topher is an experienced and passionate Motorsport journalist with Formula E, Formula 1, GP2/F2, GP3 and IndyCar all on his resume. When he isn't at the trackside you can find him furthering his own capabilities and knowledge through his endless search for original ideas and material. Also plays league pool.