Di Grassi claims surprise win in thrilling Mexico City ePrix

2016/2017 FIA Formula E Championship. Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez, Mexico City, Mexico Friday 31 March 2017. Photo: Sam Bloxham/LAT/Formula E ref: Digital Image _J6I6006

Lucas di Grassi claimed an unlikely win in the Mexico City ePrix after starting fifteenth on the grid.

The Brazilian made amends for having last year’s victory at the same track stripped from him for a technical infringement, as he showed superb energy management skills to take the win from Jean-Eric Vergne.

And he had to do it after being demoted to the back of the field having had to complete an extra pit stop for a new rear wing, following a collision with Maro Engel on the first lap.

His Abt Schaeffler Audi team chose to take a gamble on strategy by pitting him early on lap 18 after the safety car came out to pick up the stricken car of Oliver Turvey.

It looked as if it would be too much to ask him to stretch his energy out to the end of the race, but another safety car caused by Loic Duval stopping on track brought him into contention.

He was then helped hugely by Jerome d’Ambrosio, who had taken a similar strategy call, acting as a rear gunner to fend off Jose Maria Lopez.

Lopez had led the race after Turvey’s unfortunate retirement, but span off while trying to outbreak the slower d’Ambrosio into turn one.

Vergne and Sam Bird were then held up for several laps by the Belgian until they managed to get past on lap 43, by which point it was too late to catch di Grassi.

Speaking after the race, di Grassi said, “It was a matter of strategy and a lot of energy consumption. I am so tired mentally, it was so exhausting. It was such a good race.”

Behind the front two there was carnage going into the second last lap.

D’Ambrosio went over his energy limit, and slowed to the extent that he caused a concertina effect behind him.

This led Nico Prost to hit the Mahindra Racing of Nick Heidfeld, whose spinning car then wiped out team-mate Felix Rosenqvist.

The crash led to Mitch Evans collecting an unlikely first points position for Panasonic Jaguar Racing in fourth, with team-mate Adam Carroll grabbing eighth

Lopez recovered to sixth despite his earlier spin, Daniel Abt made up for losing his pole position to finish seventh, and Nelson Piquet Jnr and debutant Esteban Gutierrez finished ninth and tenth respectively.

It was disappointment though for championship leader Sebastien Buemi.

The Frenchman qualified poorly, but a string of grid penalties moved him up to seventh at the start.

Although he made a move early on for sixth his progress was then halted, and a poor pit stop left him in the lower points scoring positions.

An uncharacteristic spin when using the fan boost then demoted him further down the field, and despite the chaos at the end he wasn’t able to capitalise, finishing down in fourteenth.

1Lucas di GrassiBRAAbt Schaeffler Audi
2Jean-Eric VergneFRATecheetah
3Sam BirdGBRDS Virgin Racing
4Mitch EvansNZLPanasonic Jaguar Racing
5Nico ProstFRARenault e.dams
6Jose Maria LopezARGDS Virgin Racing
7Daniel AbtGERAbt Schaeffler Audi
8Adam CarrollGBRPanasonic Jaguar Racing
9Nelson Piquet JrBRANextEV TIO
10Esteban GutierrezMEXTecheetah
11Robin FrijnsNEDAndretti Formula E
12Nick HeidfeldGERMahindra Racing
13Jerome d'AmbrosioBELFF Dragon Racing
14Sebastien BuemiFRARenault e.dams
15Stephane SarrazinFRAVenturi
16Felix RosenqvistSWEMahindra Racing
17Maro EngelGERVenturi
DNFAntonio Felix da CostaPORAndretti Formula E
DNFLoic DuvalFRAFF Dragon Racing
DNFOliver TurveyGBRNextEV TIO