Di Grassi wins to Extend Championship Lead in Berlin ePrix

by Connor Jackson

The eighth round of the Formula E season saw, Lucas di Grassi, take his second win of the season in his Audi Sport ABT car and extend his championship lead over Nelson Piquet Jr. to 17 points. Di Grassi managed to overtake pole sitter Jarno Trulli after he locked up at the start and proceeded to extend his lead over the competition.

Fanboost: Charles Pic, Sebastien Buemi, Nelson Piquet Jr.

Trulli, who had started on pole, had a good start holding off second placed di Grassi. All cars made it cleanly through turn 1, but the cars struggled on the dusty off line sections of the race track. Daniel Abt, who had started fifth spun into turn 3, dropping the German to the back of the grid, meanwhile, Trulli out braked himself ran wide and allowed di Grassi to sail past into the lead.

Di Grassi immediately started pulling away as there was a queue behind third place Sebastien Buemi grew, holding up Nick Heidfeld who had maintained position and Jerome d’Ambrosio who had gained one position to sixth. However; Trulli couldn’t pull away and soon started holding up the field.

Further back, Nico Prost started dropping positions and fell out of contention as Loic Duval overtook for seventh. However; he was joined by Trulli. After a great qualifying, the Italian started dropping like a stone after lap 6, Buemi first using a fanboost to get past, as Trulli would eventually fall out of the points. The action resulted in di Grassi extending his lead to 10 seconds.

By lap 9, Duval had caught Vitantonio Liuzzi for fifth place as a queue formed behind second place, Buemi again, holding up Heidfeld and d’Ambrosio. The Belgium driver soon used the momentum to take Heidfeld into turn 9 as Piquet Jr. used his efficient driving successfully, managing to keep 7% more energy than his rivals.

By lap 17 Stephane Sarrazin and Trulli were forced to pit as the rest of the field pitted one lap later. A slick pit stop for d’Ambrosio allowed him to leap Buemi in the pits, but no-one was going to get close to race leader di Grassi. Meanwhile the NEXTEV TCR cars pitted a lap later, allowing Piquet to jump up to sixth.

After the stops, di Grassi lead from d’Ambrosio, Buemi, Heidfeld and Duval. While Antonio Felix da Costa‘s race was ruined after he pitted quicker than the required time, forcing a drive through from seventh. By lap 22 Heidfeld lunged for third on Buemi but lost out and found himself under pressure from Duval.

As Buemi drove away, the battle for fourth intensified as Sarrazin and Piquet caught up to the battling pair. Piquet had continued to be efficient on his battery and still managed to set the fastest lap. On lap 28 the Brazilian used his fanboost and launched up the inside of Sarrazin, also taking Heidfeld after the German lost his position to Duval.

On lap 31 with only two remaining, Piquet started to catch Duval as the two fought for fourth place. The poor day for Mahindra Racing continued as Bruno Senna had to serve a drive through for speeding in the pits, while polesitter Trulli retired on the last lap after running out of battery.

This meant di Grassi cruised home to take his second victory of the year in front of the German crowd at his teams, ABT’s home race. He was joined on the podium by d’Ambrosio, who took his first podium of the year and Buemi who was disappointed with third.

Behind them Duval held off Piquet, who finished with the fastest lap, while home favourite Heidfeld managed his best result in sixth in front of team mate Sarrazin, Jean-Eric Vergne, Sam Bird, and Liuzzi who fell off the pace towards the end. While e.Dams-Renault lose ground on Audi Sport Abt in the teams championship.

Di Grassi now leads the championship by 17 points as Formula E moves to the Moscow ePrix on 6th June for the penultimate venue in the calendar.

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