Lucas di Grassi takes victory whilst Buemi struggles


2015/2016 FIA Formula E Championship. Long Beach ePrix, Long Beach, California, United States of America. Saturday 2 April 2016. Lucas Di Grassi (BRA), ABT Audi Sport FE01 celebrates in Parc Ferme Photo: Zak Mauger/LAT/Formula E ref: Digital Image _79P6646

Lucas di Grassi has retaken the lead of the FIA Formula E Championship after a spectacular victory around the Long Beach circuit at the weekend, whilst his closest rival Sebastien Buemi suffered from a terrible ePrix.

Sam Bird lead the field from pole position, after he was granted the position when Antonio Felix da Costa was stripped of his pole following his tyre pressures being too low after the session. Bird was hounded by di Grassi in the opening laps, whilst Buemi did his best to work his way up from his starting position of seventh.

Buemi made a clean move on Daniel Abt for sixth in the opening laps but misjudged a move for fifth on Robin Frijns just a few laps later, when he hit the read of the Andretti Autosport car and clambered over the rear wing of Frijns car.

A lap after the disastrous move from the Renault e.dams driver, di Grassi made a swift move of Bird to take the lead of the race, at Turn 5. A little further back, both Buemi and Frijns received Mechanical Failure Flags, which ruined their race.

Bird remained close to the rear of di Grassi before the pitstops and tried his best to get past the leading car, but struggled to do so and made light contact with the tyre barrier at Turn 5. The Brit rejoined the race in seventh position but moved swiftly back into sixth when Nicolas Prost had to serve a driver through after his pitstop, for being 0.1s under the minimum pitstop time.

Di Grassi remained untouched at the front of the pack and looked to be cruising his way to victory until the NEXTEV TCR car of Nelson Piquet Jr brought out a late safety car after the Brazilian crashed at the first turn.

There was a three lap sprint to the line for di Grassi but he held off his rivals to take victory, the perfect response to having his win stripped from him at the Meixco ePrix last time out. Stephane Sarrazin was second whilst the car of Abt came home third, rewarding Abt Schaeffler Audi Sport with a double podium finish.

“I’m very happy to show that if you keep your focus, keep up your work, good results come,” claimed di Grassi following the race. “From the outside races always look comfortable, this is a tricky track, it’s very easy to do mistakes, it was an extremely difficult race. Stephane was quick and was putting pressure on me.

It’s an extremely difficult car to drive on the edge so we had no comfort in winning the race, we just had to focus on making no mistakes.”

Mahindra Racing Formula E drivers Nick Heidfeld and Bruno Senna kept themselves out of any trouble in order to come home just behind the podium finishers. Dragon Racing pair, Jerome d’Ambrosio and Loic Duval crossed the line behind both Mahindra Racing cars to gain points in seventh and eighth behind Sam Bird.

Simona de Silvestro grabbed her first ever Formula E points when she crossed the line in ninth, ahead of Mike Conway, who also managed to grab his first set of points in the series.

Lucas di Grassi now leads the championship by just a single point, but will be hoping to make the gap wider when the series flies out to Paris for their first ePrix in a few weeks’ time.