Lucas di Grassi will take just a one-point lead into the championship finale in London after Sebastien Buemi steered his Renault e.dams to victory at the Berlin ePrix.
After taking the lead off the start he was soon re-passed by pole sitter Jean-Eric Vergne, but after overtaking him again on lap six he never looked back. The only concern came at the end after Loic Duval’s crash in turn eight brought out the safety car, but he comfortably held his lead over the last two laps.
There was controversy in the Abt Schaeffler Audi team however, as Daniel Abt refused to move over for his team-mate at the end. He was asked to give his second place to di Grassi on the second last lap to help the championship fight, but he refused, citing a misunderstanding between the two as the reason why.
Di Grassi’s final placing is still to be confirmed, after the stewards launched an investigation as to whether he had gone too fast under a full course yellow. As the debris from Vergne’s car was collected, di Grassi closed the gap between him and Nico Prost from 3.2 seconds to around 2 seconds.
Should he be punished it would almost certainly give the championship lead back to Buemi.
Until then it had been a great recovery drive from di Grassi. He looked in trouble after only qualifying in tenth, but received an immediate boost as both Mahindra Racing cars in front of him were demoted to the back of the grid for having incorrect tyre pressures.
He was up to sixth after the start, and after both DS Virgin Racing cars suffered damage he was up to fourth. He then sold Prost a great dummy going into turn one as he made it into third, before his team-mate refused to surrender second in the closing laps.
It did still mean that di Grassi kept his run of finishing on the podium in every race so far, and it looks as if he will hold the narrowest of leads going into the double-header at Battersea Park.
Pole sitter Vergne had a disappointing race. After holding the lead at the start he soon fell to third, and although he withstood massive pressure from Nico Prost, he cracked under pressure and took off his front wing after hitting the bollards at the chicane twice.
He was then lucky to still be in the race after clouting the barrier, but he recovered to finish fifth behind Prost.
Robin Frijns defied the lack of pace in his Andretti Autosport machine to finish in a great sixth place, and Nick Heidfeld completed a great comeback to finish seventh after starting third last on the grid – making some great overtakes along the way.
The two Venturis of Mike Conway and Stephane Sarrazin finished eighth and tenth, and Simona de Silvestro picked up her second points finish of the season with ninth.
All three of them were helped after several cars in front of them were called into the pits under a black and orange flag to repair damage. Firstly the NextEV TCR drivers hit each other in the first corner, leading to both Nelson Piquet Jnr and Oliver Turvey pitting for repairs.
Sam Bird then had his race ruined after he was called in for what looked like minimal damage to his front wing. The unscheduled stop relegated him to the back, effectively ending his slim title hopes there and then.
Bruno Senna and debutant Rene Rast also had to pit for repairs after they hit each other, Senna salvaging his race at the very end with a fastest lap that could have consequences for the title after he took it from Buemi.
The result of the stewards investigation promises to have even bigger influence on the title though, as di Grassi faces a nervous few hours to see if he’ll keep his podium.
Berlin ePrix Race Result
|1||Sebastien Buemi||SWI||Renault e.dams|
|2||Daniel Abt||GER||Abt Schaeffler Audi Sport|
|3||Lucas di Grassi||BRA||Abt Schaeffler Audi Sport|
|4||Nico Prost||FRA||Renault e.dams|
|5||Jean-Eric Vergne||FRA||DS Virgin Racing|
|7||Nick Heidfeld||GER||Mahindra Racing|
|9||Simona de Silvestro||SWI||Andretti|
|11||Sam Bird||GBR||DS Virgin Racing|
|12||Oliver Turvey||GBR||NextEV TCR|
|13||Nelson Piquet Jnr||BRA||NextEV TCR|
|14||Ma Qing Hua||CHI||Team Aguri|
|15||Bruno Senna||BRA||Mahindra Racing|
|16||Jerome d'Ambrosio||BEL||Dragon Racing|
|17||Rene Rast||GER||Team Aguri|
|DNF||Loic Duval||FRA||Dragon Racing|