Redemption came to Lucas di
Grassi in the shape of a perfectly judged win in the FIA Formula E Faraday
Future Long Beach ePrix on April 2, 2016. The Abt Schaeffler Audi Sport driver
had sprayed the victory champagne at the last race in Mexico City, only for the
disappointment of disqualification to hit home long after the bubbles had
fizzled out. But with a steely determination to take advantage of any
opportunity that would come his way in the fight for the 2016 FIA Formula E
Championship, di Grassi produced a drive of genuine quality.
For India’s own Mahindra
Racing, it was sweet victory of sorts when their two drivers Nick Heidfeld and Bruno
Senna came in fourth and fifth respectively. This is the best ever team result
for Mahindra Racing. Mahindra Racing Formula E Team now leaves Long Beach with
22 Championship Points, the largest combined points haul in the Team’s history.
Starting in P4 & P10 respectively, Nick Heidfeld and Bruno Senna showed
strong energy management and race pace to finish in fourth and fifth position
The result sees the Mahindra Racing Team
significantly closing the gap with the team ahead. With five races remaining,
Mahindra Racing has already surpassed its total points tally from the inaugural
Nick Heidfeld said: "I am happy that we
scored the best finish in the Team’s history today. Most importantly, I think
we are progressing well. A lot of work has been done to achieve this
performance and we will continue to push as a team for better results. This is
a very positive result for us”
“I want to thank the fans for their support in
voting for me to win FanBoost. After the safety car came in I used the FanBoost
to fight for third position but it wasn’t quite enough to complete the move.
I’m grateful to everyone who voted,” he added.
Meanwhile, from pole position,
it was DS Virgin Racing’s Sam Bird who led in the early stages of the race, but
di Grassi kept him in his sights, and when he managed to get a better run down
straight he pulled a great
move on the Brit into Turn 5 to take the lead. Bird managed to keep on di
Grassi’s tail through the mid-race car change, but in his second car he was
caught out by cold brakes and locked up into Turn 5, sending him down the
escape road. He managed to avoid any serious damage, but lost a hat full of
places and any hope of victory.
Di Grassi now had a
comfortable lead over Venturi’s Stephane Sarrazin, only for all of it to be wiped
out when last year’s winner - Nelson Piquet Jr - crashed over the kerbs at the
first chicane and walloped into the wall. The Qualcomm Safety Car was required
to retrieve his stricken NEXTEV TCR machine, handing Sarrazin an unexpected
shot at the win. But di Grassi timed the restart to perfection and cruised home
for his second win of the year.
With Sebastien Buemi suffering
a disastrous race - he collided with Robins Frijns, which not only damaged both
cars so badly they were forced into making an early car change, he then
received a drive-through penalty - di Grassi has taken over the lead in the
points standings he lost along with his Mexico win.
“I’m very happy to show that
if you keep your focus, keep up your work, good results come,” he said. “From
the outside races always look comfortable, this is a tricky track, it’s very
easy to do mistakes, it was an extremely difficult race. Stephane was quick and
was putting pressure on me. It’s an extremely difficult car to drive on the
edge so we had no comfort in winning the race, we just had to focus on making
For Sarrazin second place was
his first podium finish and keeps up his record of scoring points in every race
so far this season. “It’s amazing that since last year we have been quick but
never on the podium,” said Sarrazin. “It was a very good race and we’ve
improved a lot. The team has come from zero - it was completely new - so we are
very happy with the car and the total package, and it was a good result.”
“I love California and I knew
that coming here we would be strong,” said Abt. “I set the overall fastest lap
today in FP2, but it didn’t quite work in qualifying, so I was a bit
disappointed coming into the race. In the race I tried to stay cool while
others around were making a lot of mistakes, and that helped me a lot. This
result was so important for the team and our first double podium is for them.”
Sam Bird was left ruing his
error in sixth. Mexico City race winner Jerome D’Ambrosio received FanBoost for
the first time in his Formula E career (di Grassi and Heidfeld were the other
recipients), but it was a low-key race for the Dragon Racing driver, who finished
seventh, one place ahead of his team-mate Loic Duval.
The final two points places
were filled by maiden top-10 finishers. Simona de Silvestro became the first
female driver to score points in Formula E with a strong drive to ninth place
for Andretti, while Mike Conway opened his account for Venturi by claiming a
single point in 10th. Buemi did manage to salvage something from the race by
setting the Visa Fastest Lap and the two bonus points it brings, but for him
and the Renault e.dams team it was a race to forget.
They will now be re-doubling
their efforts and hoping to get back on the front foot as the series heads to
their home race - the inaugural Visa Paris ePrix - which takes place on April
23.2016 Faraday Future Long Beach ePrix (Rd 6)
1. Lucas di Grassi, Abt
Schaeffler Audi Sport, 45:11.582s (25)
2. Stephane Sarrazin, Venturi,
3. Daniel Abt, Abt Schaeffler
Audi Sport, +1.685s (15)
4. Nick Heidfeld, Mahindra
Racing, +2.343s (12)
5. Bruno Senna, Mahindra
Racing, +4.968s (10)
6. Sam Bird, DS Virgin Racing,
7. Jerome D’Ambrosio, Dragon
Racing, +6.735s (6)
8. Loic Duval, Dragon Racing,
9. Simona de Silvestro,
Andretti Formula E, +10.505s (2)
10. Mike Conway, Venturi,
11. Nico Prost, Renault
12. Oliver Turvey, NEXTEV TCR,
13. Jean-Eric Vergne, DS
Virgin Racing, +1 lap
14. Salvador Duran, Team
Aguri, +1 lap
15. Robin Frijns, Andretti
Formula E, +1 lap
16. Sebastien Buemi, Renault
e.dams, +3 laps (2)
17. Antonio Felix da Costa,
Team Aguri, DNF
18. Nelson Piquet Jr, NEXTEV
Source: FIA FormulaE / Pictures courtesy FIA FormulaE
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