Formula E

Lucas Di Grassi Claims London Victory as Stoffel Vandoorne Extends Championship Lead

4 Mins read
Credit: Sam Bloxham courtesy of FIA Formula E

Lucas Di Grassi claimed a staggering victory at the second race of the London E-Prix, with Jake Dennis finishing second and Nyck de Vries in third. The big story of the race was Stoffel Vandoorne finishing in fourth-place, whilst none of his title rivals scored any points. The Belgian driver looks all but certain to win the Drivers’ Championship.

As the lights went out all twenty-two drivers’ managed to get away cleanly, although, Antonio Giovinazzi and António Félix Da Costa almost came together. Only a few corners later and everything got too tight for comfort, as Oliver Rowland was squeezed against the wall by Oliver Askew and launched slightly into the air. The Brit hit Jean-Éric Vergne when his front-wheels made contact back on the ground, yet somehow everyone continued driving.

Turn Sixteen saw absolute carnage on the first lap, with a cutback move by Mitch Evans resulting in bumper cars behind. Rowland pulled into the pits at the end of the opening lap and unfortunately retired from the race. Dan Ticktum retired just a lap later after hitting the wall heavily at Turn Twenty, meaning two Brits were out of their home race by the end of Lap One.

The drama didn’t end there, as Vergne retired on the following lap, potentially due to damage caused by the impact with Rowland on Lap One. The retirement realistically ended the Frenchman’s hopes of claiming another ABB FIA Formula E World Championship. With carbon fibre scattered across the ExCeL Centre, a full Safety Car was deployed.

It wasn’t long until the racing was underway again, with Askew pulling off a huge divebomb on Maximilian Günther at Turn Sixteen. Da Costa fell from fourth to fifth, after Giovinazzi forced the Portuguese driver wide whilst defending his place. De Vries was on hand to overtake Da Costa, and then Giovinazzi on the following lap having activated his first of three attack modes.

At the front, Dennis and Di Grassi stayed as they were, with both remaining first and second even after activating their first attack modes. After a frantic fifteen minutes, Giovinazzi was awarded a drive-through penalty, for overpowering. Interestingly, Giovinazzi was investigated for the same thing in qualifying. Race One podium finisher Nick Cassidy was forced into the pits for a tyre change, having picked up a puncture.

In the championship fight, Mitch Evans made an incredible start to the race. With twenty-six minutes remaining, Evans found himself in fifth, with Vandoorne in seventh having also made a strong start. Edoardo Mortara had also gotten himself into the points, and sat in tenth-place.

Back at the front and Da Costa pulled off a great move on De Vries for third at Turn One, whilst using his second attack mode. However, Da Costa immediately found himself back behind De Vries, after deciding to use his final attack mode. Di Grassi decided to go for a different strategy to race leader Dennis, and used his second attack mode before the Brit. This saw the Brazilian get right onto the rear of Dennis, and ultimately claim the lead when Dennis finally used his second of three attack modes with twenty minutes remaining.

Elsewhere, Vandoorne climbed up to sixth-place by overtaking Sébastian Buemi, the Belgian driver sat behind title rival Evans following the move. Back at the front and Dennis moved back into the race lead with seventeen minutes remaining, after Di Grassi went into the attack mode to activate his final one. At the same time, Evans made his way past Da Costa and unbelievably up to fourth, despite having started in the midfield.

Dennis defended brilliantly from Di Grassi, with the ROKIT Venturi Racing driver urgently trying to retake the lead whilst having the last few minutes of his final attack mode. At the back and Giovinazzi became the fourth retirement of the E-Prix, meaning the Italian’s third-place start failed to result in a points finish. Askew not long after became the fifth retirement of the race.

In the midfield and Mortara’s weekend worsened, as the Swiss driver span at Turn One whilst trying to overtake Sam Bird for ninth-place. Mortara went into the corner way too fast, and locked-up his wheels. The top two in the championship continued to make excellent progress, with Evans and Vandoorne passing Da Costa for fourth and fifth.

With eight minutes remaining, Di Grassi regained the race lead as Dennis activated his final attack mode. Dennis was forced into taking it when he did, as De Vries quickly closed onto the back of the pair. Dennis couldn’t make the most of his final attack mode, though, and failed to overtake Di Grassi whilst having the power advantage.

With five minutes left, Cassidy became the sixth retirement of the race, which was becoming a E-Prix all about survival. At the front and Di Grassi began to pull away, the Brazilian extended his lead to almost three-seconds. Behind him, Dennis had to defend from a rapid late charge by De Vries. The Dutchman had to decide whether to go for second, or to play it safe and maintain third.

With two-minutes left it was heartbreak for Evans, whose car died whilst in fourth-place, making him the seventh retirement of the race. Evans’ retirement meant Vandoorne was suddenly in fourth-place and on the brink of seriously extending his championship lead, with his only other still-running title challenger outside of the points.

There was no more sudden drama in the final minute, meaning Di Grassi claimed his first victory for ROKIT Venturi, with Dennis in second and De Vries in fourth. Crucially, Vandoorne secured fourth to put one hand on the Drivers’ Championship. Sérgio Sette Câmara also claimed his first-ever points in Formula E.

London E-Prix Round 14 Full Race Results:

POS.NO.NAME.NAT.TEAM.TIME/GAP.
111Lucas Di GrassiBRZROKIT Venturi Racing49:28.805
227Jake DennisGBRAvalanche Andretti FE Team+3.191
317Nyck de VriesNEDMercedes-EQ Formula E Team+4.508
45Stoffel VandoorneBELMercedes-EQ Formula E Team+10.358
513António Félix Da CostaPORDS Techeetah+13.946
623Sébastian BuemiCHENissan E.DAMS+20.399
74Robin FrijnsNEDEnvision Racing+20.850
810Sam BirdGBRTCS Jaguar Racing+21.748
97Sérgio Sette CâmaraBRZDragon/Penske Autosport+28.913
1094Pascal WehrleinGERTAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team+29.685
1129Alexander SimsGBRMahindra Racing+30.611
1236André LottererGERTAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team+31.644
1348Edoardo MortaraCHEROKIT Venturi Racing+35.147
143Oliver TurveyGBRNIO 333 FE Team+37.285
1522Maximilian GüntherGERNissan E.DAMS+1:19.833
169Mitch EvansNZLTCS Jaguar RacingDNF
1737Nick CassidyNZLEnvision RacingDNF
1828Oliver AskewUSAAvalanche Andretti FE TeamDNF
1999Antonio GiovinazziITADragon/Penske AutosportDNF
2025Jean-Éric VergneFRADS TecheetahDNF
2133Dan TicktumGBRNIO 333 FE TeamDNF
2230Oliver RowlandGBRMahindra RacingDNF
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