Di Grassi takes championship lead with Montreal win

Credit: Formula E

Lucas di Grassi became the first driver other than Sebastien Buemi to lead the driver’s championship this season by winning the first race in Montreal.

The Brazilian made the most of his pole position by leading every lap of the race, and in doing so turned a seven point deficit into a six point lead in the championship.

Buemi did a valiant job to finish fourth despite starting in twelfth and moving back at the start of the race.

It wasn’t without controversy though, as he managed to survive a steward’s investigation into an unsafe release to get him front of Daniel Abt, and then got into a close scrap with Stephane Sarrazin over third place on the last lap.

Buemi was also involved in contact at the first corner, as the MS Amlin Andretti car of Robin Frijns clipped his front left wheel.

It caused his steering to be jolted out of position, and at the end of the race he went on a remarkable rampage through the pit lane which started with him wrongly confronting Frijns’ team-mate Antonio Felix da Costa and criticising the move

He shouted at da Costa, “You just dived in like a crazy guy. You broke my steering wheel. It’s either him [Frijns] or you – I’m sure it’s you.”

He then attacked Frijns, with the Dutchman claiming that he had a choice between either hitting Buemi’s rear wing, or diving down the inside, before also having words with Daniel Abt, who had hit the Swiss driver when he slowed exiting the pits.

Di Grassi meanwhile was made to work for his win after a safety car was deployed to pick up the stricken DS Virgin Racing car of Jose Maria Lopez.

It eliminated the Brazilian’s comfortable gap, and meant he had to do some strong defending at the end from second place man Jean-Eric Vergne.

Speaking afterwards di Grassi said, “It was pretty tough with all the pressure, but we managed to get through the race.

“The safety car didn’t help us but in the end we were able to keep JEV [Vergne] behind and we were extremely quick.”

Di Grassi’s Abt Schaeffler Audi team-mate Abt finished just behind Buemi in fifth having pressurised him after the pit stops.

Sam Bird pulled off a remarkable result behind him, overtaking Nico Prost at the very end to finish sixth despite having started way back in eighteenth place.

Mitch Evans converted Panasonic Jaguar Racing’s strong qualifying result into decent points with eighth place, with Frijns behind him.

It was disappointment for Felix Rosenqvist though, who despite running in the top three early on fell behind both Techeetah’s after the pit stops.

While trying to follow Stephane Sarrazin he got a snap of oversteer that damaged his rear right and caused him to drop sharply though the field.

And it wasn’t much better for his Mahindra Racing team-mate Nick Heidfeld, who made a solid start having qualified poorly, but was taken out by Loic Duval despite having drawn up alongside him in an overtaking manoeuvre.

Duval was subsequently given a drive though penalty and finished last, which left FF Dragon Racing pointless after Jerome d’Ambrosio could only manage twelfth.

The race result sets up a fascinating season finale for tomorrow though, with Buemi knowing that pole and a race win will secure him a second, consecutive championship, but with di Grassi having the lead in the standings for the first time.

1Lucas di GrassiBRAAbt Audi Schaeffler
2Jean-Eric VergneFRATecheetah
3Stephane SarrazinFRATecheetah
4Sebastien BuemiSUIRenault e.dams
5Daniel AbtGERAbt Audi Schaeffler
6Sam BirdGBRDS Virgin Racing
7Nico ProstFRARenault e.dams
8Mitch EvansNZLPanasonic Jaguar Racing
9Robin FrijnsNEDMS Amlin Andretti
10Felix RosenqvistSWEMahindra Racing
11Tom DillmanFRAVenturi
12Jerome d'AmbrosioBELFF Dragon Racing
13Maro EngelGERVenturi
14Nelson Piquet JrBRANextEV TIO
15Antonio Felix da CostaPORMS Amlin Andretti
16Oliver TurveyGBRNextEV TIO
17Adam CarrollGBRPanasonic Jaguar Racing
DNFLoic DuvalFRAFF Dragon Racing
DNFJose Maria LopezARGDS Virgin Racing
DNFNick HeidfeldGERMahindra Racing