Prost wins and di Grassi extends championship lead in thrilling London ePrix


2015/2016 FIA Formula E Championship. London ePrix, Battersea Park, London, United Kingdom. Saturday 2 July 2016. Nicolas Prost (FRA), Renault e.Dams Z.E.15 Photo: Zak Mauger/LAT/Formula E ref: Digital Image _A8C9321

Nico Prost won his first race in Formula E since Miami last year after cruising to victory at the London ePrix.

He stormed away from pole and had a lonely race up front, building up a lead of 19 seconds over third place at one point. This was taken away from him after the safety car was brought out following a clash between Daniel Abt and Robin Frijns, but after it went in with ten laps to go he again built a dominant lead.

Behind him there was action throughout as championship contenders Sebastien Buemi and Lucas di Grassi tried to fight their way through the field.

They both made quick work of passing Nick Heidfeld, but Buemi was held up by Daniel Abt after the German had let his Abt Schaeffler Audi team mate through. Abt was given a warning for weaving while blocking, but it was all for nothing when Buemi worked his way past just before the pit stops.

It meant that after the car change the two title rivals were nose to tail, with Bruno Senna, Oliver Turvey, Jean-Eric Vergne and Robin Frijns ahead of them.

Both di Grassi and Buemi made short work of Frijns, but with Abt attempting to follow them through he managed to hit the Dutchman, colliding with the wall and then taking the Andretti car out in the process.

It was a clumsy move, and hugely unfortunate for Frijns who had put in a fantastic defensive drive to keep several faster cars behind him. More importantly it cost Abt important points in the team’s championship, especially with Renault e.dams leading the race.

With the safety car out it was threatening to rain, but when it came in di Grassi and Buemi were still going to overtake.

On lap 26 di Grassi attempted to get by Vergne, but in his attempt to block him it brought both cars to a near standstill, almost allowing Buemi to squeeze by.

Although no places ended up changing hands, di Grassi had front wing damage, meaning he was under threat from receiving a black and orange flag. Thankfully for him the loose endplate soon flew off, and despite the damage he was able to block Buemi and at one stage even set the fastest lap.

There was time for one final twist yet though, as Oliver Turvey lost his hard earned third place to Vergne following contact, and then crashed his damaged car into the wall.

As di Grassi and Buemi approached his crashed car, Sam Bird put in an opportunistic move to pass Buemi and put a car between the championship rivals.

It was unclear whether Bird had pulled it off under yellows, but on the final lap he dramatically slowed, causing a collision and allowing Buemi and Antonio Felix da Costa to get past.

Ahead of them it was a Prost-Senna one-two, with Vergne getting the last podium place. Di Grassi grabbed fourth to extend his lead in the championship to just three points over  Buemi who finished fifth.

Da Costa also managed to get by Bird on the finishing straight to grab sixth ahead of him. Nick Heidfeld then finished eighth ahead of Jerome d’Ambrosio and Mike Conway.

“It’s been an up and down year for me, so this is really nice. I was confident comng here because in the last two races I’ve been really competitive and the team have built a really fantastic car. These are the kinds of races you want to have.”

“I wasn’t very lucky this year. We found something in the car that was a big problem for me but not for Seb, but in the last few races the pace has been good.”

POSDRIVERNATTEAM
1Nico ProstFRARenault e.dams
2Bruno SennaBRAMahindra Racing
3Jean-Eric VergneFRADS Virgin Racing
4Lucas di GrassiBRAAbt Schaeffler Audi
5Sebastien BuemiFRARenault e.dams
6Antonio Felix da CostaPORTeam Aguri
7Sam BirdGBRDS Virgin Racing
8Nick HeidfeldGERMahindra Racing
9Jerome d'AmbrosioBELDragon Racing
10Mike ConwayGBRVenturi
11Simona de SilvestroSWIAndretti
12Stephane SarrazinFRAVenturi
13Ma Qing HuaCHITeam Aguri
14Nelson Piquet JrBRANextEV TCR
DNFOliver TurveyGBRNextEV TCR
DNFLoic DuvalFRADragon Racing
DNFRobin FrijnsNEDAndretti
DNFDaniel AbtGERAbt Schaeffler Audi