Frijns reigns at Paris ePrix

by Nathan Hine
Robin Frijns - Envision Virgin Racing - Circuit Des Invalides

Envision Virgin Racing driver Robin Frijns won the 2019 Paris ePrix after an enthralling wet-dry race around the Circuit des Invalides to seize the lead of the championship over Andre Lotterer by a single point after the German finished second, with his fellow countryman Daniel Abt completing the podium in third.

The race started behind the Safety Car with Oliver Rowland leading a Nissan 1-2 over his team-mate Sebastien Buemi ahead of eventual race winner Robin Frijns in third. That was until Rowland crashed his Nissan e. dams at turn three after just three minutes of the 45-minutes plus one lap race.

It was but a lap later that the Attack Mode period began with Frijns and Venturi Formula E driver Felipe Massa who took on the extra 25 KW of power and then after Buemi got out of shape at turn nine, Frijns tried to pass the Swiss racer, but caught the rear of the Nissan which slightly dislodged his front wing as Buemi armed Attack Mode himself.

In the early stages, it was Lotterer who was the man on the move, working his way up from sixth to third place after making clean moves on both the GEOX Dragon Racing car of Maxmillian Gunther and Massa as he made his way through the order.

Then at the end of the first Attack Mode period, after anchoring the race lead over Frijns, Buemi suffered a puncture and was forced to pull into the pits to seek repairs to his wounded Nissan e. dams machine, thus gifting Frijns the race lead.

But the Dutchman had no time to relax, as with 30-minutes to go, the rain started to fall in Paris which caused the first Full Course Yellow to be deployed with 27-minutes to go, with hail also falling soon after. The race resumed with 23-minutes to go and after running in ninth place during the opening stages, NIO Formula E driver Tom Dillmann smashed into the wall at turn nine while battling with Sam Bird, Antonio Felix Da Costa and Jerome D’ Ambrosio which ended his afternoon early.

But he was not the only man in strife with Rome ePrix race winner Mitch Evans losing his front wing while battling with his team-mate Alex Lynn and saw him have to pit for repairs as a result.

After his second lap gaffe, Rowland was steadily making his way through the order until, with less than 20-minutes to go, the Nissan driver made contact with his fellow countryman Alexander Sims and saw him muller the BMW I-Andretti Motorsport driver into the wall at turn three. At the same time, Bird and Pascal Wehrlein ran wide at the same corner and lost vital places and therefore dropped to the rear of the field. HWA RaceLab driver Stoffel Vandoorne also picked up damage in the melee and so was forced to retire.

This brought out the second Full Course Yellow of the afternoon with the rain starting to fall even harder than before, with Frijns continuing to lead from Lotterer ahead of Abt, after his beautiful pass on Massa at turn three with the Brazilian locking down fourth. However, when the track went green, the Brazilian span out the final turn all by himself and fell down to eighth place. Meanwhile, his team-mate Edoardo Mortara went nuts and a failed attempt to pass Gunther saw him end in the crash barrier at turn three, although he managed to re-join in a gap in the traffic unscathed.

But it was not long before Mortara instigated another Full Course Yellow which bled into a full-blown Safety Car when he crashed into Alex Lynn’s Jaguar at turn seven which ended Lynn’s afternoon. Meanwhile, Oliver Turvey mullered Massa at turn thirteen which meant the pair ran wide while running inside the points-paying positions.

The race resumed with two minutes to go with Frijns building his advantage once again over Lotterer at the front, while D’ Ambrosio’s attempts to pass Felix Da Costa at turn three ended with the Mahindra Racing driver in the wall with Jose Maria Lopez joining the Belgian driver at the same place. This promoted Massa and Pascal Wehrlein into the points after a turbulent afternoon, with the race all but finishing behind the Full Course Yellow after a chaotic afternoon of racing.

So after winning in Paris, Robin Frijns becomes the eighth different winner in eight races and in doing so takes the lead of championship by a single point over Andre Lotterer who is yet to win a race in the 2018-19 ABB FIA Formula E Championship. But in a season of chaos, drama and unpredictability, who will triumph in Monaco?

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